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When shall we Divide?

March 17, 2009

Andy directed me to the latest 9Marks e-journal. This month it addresses young pastors – I thought this article by Mark Dever was interesting: “What I CAN and CANNOT Live with as a Pastor”

I think through this question frequently and thought it was relevant, as I just finished translating Phil. 1:27-2:11 – the heart of the letter that reveals Paul’s central theme: not joy, but unity for the cause of the Gospel (thanks, Dr. Black!).

But we do not unite for unity’s sake as there are times to divide; but, when is this appropriate? I will not go into detail, but I can say this – the first question we must ask in these situations is whether or not the Gospel is at stake.

Let me present you with two case studies. Which church should a Bible-believing Christian avoid like the plague?

A. a church’s leaders has people that buy their meat from a local grocery store owned by pagans. It’s meat that they sacrificed to their gods.

B. a church has people that don’t directly oppose any teaching of Christ, but encourage its members to be circumcised according to OT law to be sure that they’re saved.

If I was going off my own common sense, I’d say church A. I’d justify it by  giving an overly-spiritual monologue about how food like that must have some sort of demonic presence and to eat it dishonors Jesus. According to Paul, I’d be wrong. (1 Cor. 8:1-13).

The church I should avoid is church B (read Galatians). Why? Because the purity of the Gospel is compromised in this church, as the sufficiency of Christ is undermined by this addition of human works to the Gospel.

So even if church B had AWANAs, Upward Basketball, “expository sermons,” a homeless ministry, and sent missionaries to all seven continents, then I wouldn’t consider joining. They’re teaching a false Gospel. If it’s 99% Jesus and 1% religious ritual then there is a 0% chance I am a member of that church.

Does the issue compromise the Gospel? If so, then I am willing to stand up for truth.

One Comment leave one →
  1. matthewcthomas permalink
    March 22, 2009 12:44 pm

    whew…let’s talk about this one some time

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