There seems to be a lot of confusion among those who profess to be Christian.
Basically, a Christian is someone who believes that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God, and they strive to life their life in accordance to that belief. Unfortunately, it seems that many Christians are unable to agree on what they should (and should not) believe. As a result, they have divided over their differences. This divisiveness results in a counterproductive message and lifestyle. Instead of being Christ-like, they have become anti-Christ. (See 1 John 2:18-27)
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. –James 3:1 ESV
I cannot help but wonder if those who uphold doctrines that divide (passages in the Bible that are difficult to understand), in their heart-of-hearts, do so for personal gain. I am sure that they have justified and rationalized their actions to their own satisfaction; being fully convinced that they are upholding the truth and exposing false teachings (doctrines). They will stack verse upon verse, passage upon passage, in a way that seemingly upholds their respective doctrine; but they often take things out of context, do not balance their proof-texts with other (seemingly contrary) passages of the Bible and they frequently read into the text that which is not clearly stated and/or meant (eisegesis).
What doctrinal differences, you may ask, am I alluding to?
- To be saved, all you have to do is profess with your lips that Jesus Christ is Lord. See Romans 10:9
- Once Saved Always Saved (OSAS) See John 4:14, 10:27-29, Ephesians 1:13-14
- You must be baptized with water or you are not saved (and some hold that you are not baptized unless you have been fully immersed). See Acts 8:36-39; 10:47
- Pre-destination / ordination / election (irresistible grace vs. free will to choose or reject God’s grace). See Romans 8:29-30, 9:8-11, Ephesians 1:3-5,11
- Universal Salvation (Universalism): Everyone will be “saved” (whether they want to be or not). See John 1:29; 4:42; 12:32; 1 John 2:2; 4:14; Titus 2:11
- Believers go to heaven right after they die on earth. See Luke 23:39-43
- A pre, mid, or post tribulation rapture in addition to the first and second Resurrection. See 1 Corinthians 15:51-55; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 4:16,17
- The Triunity of God: One God in three persons. See Matthew 3:13-17; 28:19; 1 Corinthians 12:4-6
Those are but a handful of examples. There are other doctrines (teachings) that go deeper and are much more involved (technical / theological).
The problem lies in the fact that the verses used to ‘proof-text’ the respective doctrines, are taken and used out of context, and are used with indifference as regards other biblical text.
Regardless of the depth and/or importance given to each of the divisive doctrines, these denominational (and non-denominational) “distinctives” not only affect the body of believers, but they also give pause to those outside the body as to the veracity of yet one more religion among a world of competing religions/belief systems.
Now that I have knocked others for “proof-texting” their divisive doctrine by “stacking verses” to prove a point, I will close this blog entry in a similar manner. I leave it to the reader as to whether or not I am being hypocritical in so doing.