Detrimental Distinctives

It is truly sad how fallen man has taken the simple gift of God’s grace and distorted it into a deleterious theology.

So tell me… are you a follower of Christ or are you a Lutheran? Or are you a Calvinist? A Methodist? Episcopalian perhaps?

No? You say you’re non-denominational? Really? Are you sure? Do you believe in a triune godhead, dispensationalism, the rapture? And would that be pre-trib, mid-trib, or post-trib? How do you feel about speaking in tongues?

Do you believe those who do not hold to the same doctrinal theology as you have got it all wrong and are in danger of going to hell?

Did you get all this from reading the Bible on your own, or did you learn it from some extra-biblical book and/or teacher?

Who do you really follow? The teachings of the Christ or the traditional teachings (doctrines) of men?

 Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying,  “Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.”  He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?  For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’  But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God”–  then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.  Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:  ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.  And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
Matthew 15:1-9 (NKJV)

[emphasis added]

In his first letter to the church in Corinth, the Apostle Paul brings home a point about how wrong it is for those who claim to be “in Christ”, to divide into camps that follow specific teachings and/or teachers.

 I beg you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that all of you agree with each other and not be split into groups. I beg that you be completely joined together by having the same kind of thinking and the same purpose.  My brothers and sisters, some people from Chloe’s family have told me quite plainly that there are quarrels among you.  This is what I mean: One of you says, “I follow Paul“; another says, “I follow Apollos“; another says, “I follow Peter“; and another says, “I follow Christ.“  Christ has been divided up into different groups! Did Paul die on the cross for you? No! Were you baptized in the name of Paul? No!  I thank God I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius  so that now no one can say you were baptized in my name.  (I also baptized the family of Stephanas, but I do not remember that I baptized anyone else.)  Christ did not send me to baptize people but to preach the Good News. And he sent me to preach the Good News without using words of human wisdom so that the cross of Christ would not lose its power.  The teaching about the cross is foolishness to those who are being lost, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  It is written in the Scriptures: “I will cause the wise men to lose their wisdom; I will make the wise men unable to understand.“  Where is the wise person? Where is the educated person? Where is the skilled talker of this world? God has made the wisdom of the world foolish.  In the wisdom of God the world did not know God through its own wisdom. So God chose to use the message that sounds foolish to save those who believe.  The Jews ask for miracles, and the Greeks want wisdom.  But we preach a crucified Christ. This is a big problem to the Jews, and it is foolishness to those who are not Jews.  But Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God to those people God has called—Jews and Greeks.  Even the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.  Brothers and sisters, look at what you were when God called you. Not many of you were wise in the way the world judges wisdom. Not many of you had great influence. Not many of you came from important families.  But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and he chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  He chose what the world thinks is unimportant and what the world looks down on and thinks is nothing in order to destroy what the world thinks is important.  God did this so that no one can brag in his presence.  Because of God you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God. In Christ we are put right with God, and have been made holy, and have been set free from sin.  So, as the Scripture says, “If someone wants to brag, he should brag only about the Lord.“
1 Corinthians 1:10-31 (NCV)

 Dear brothers and sisters, when I came to you, I did not come preaching God’s secret with fancy words or a show of human wisdom.  I decided that while I was with you I would forget about everything except Jesus Christ and his death on the cross.  So when I came to you, I was weak and fearful and trembling.  My teaching and preaching were not with words of human wisdom that persuade people but with proof of the power that the Spirit gives.  This was so that your faith would be in God’s power and not in human wisdom.
1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (NCV)

 Brothers and sisters, in the past I could not talk to you as I talk to spiritual people. I had to talk to you as I would to people without the Spirit—babies in Christ.  The teaching I gave you was like milk, not solid food, because you were not able to take solid food. And even now you are not ready.  You are still not spiritual, because there is jealousy and quarreling among you, and this shows that you are not spiritual. You are acting like people of the world.  One of you says, “I belong to Paul,“ and another says, “I belong to Apollos.“ When you say things like this, you are acting like people of the world.  Is Apollos important? No! Is Paul important? No! We are only servants of God who helped you believe. Each one of us did the work God gave us to do.  I planted the seed, and Apollos watered it. But God is the One who made it grow.  So the one who plants is not important, and the one who waters is not important. Only God, who makes things grow, is important.  The one who plants and the one who waters have the same purpose, and each will be rewarded for his own work.  We are God’s workers, working together; you are like God’s farm, God’s house.  Using the gift God gave me, I laid the foundation of that house like an expert builder. Others are building on that foundation, but all people should be careful how they build on it.  The foundation that has already been laid is Jesus Christ, and no one can lay down any other foundation.  But if people build on that foundation, using gold, silver, jewels, wood, grass, or straw,  their work will be clearly seen, because the Day of Judgment will make it visible. That Day will appear with fire, and the fire will test everyone’s work to show what sort of work it was.  If the building that has been put on the foundation still stands, the builder will get a reward.  But if the building is burned up, the builder will suffer loss. The builder will be saved, but it will be as one who escaped from a fire.  Don’t you know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?  If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person, because God’s temple is holy and you are that temple.  Do not fool yourselves. If you think you are wise in this world, you should become a fool so that you can become truly wise,  because the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. It is written in the Scriptures, “He catches those who are wise in their own clever traps.“  It is also written in the Scriptures, “The Lord knows what wise people think. He knows their thoughts are just a puff of wind.“  So you should not brag about human leaders. All things belong to you:  Paul, Apollos, and Peter; the world, life, death, the present, and the future—all these belong to you.  And you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.
1 Corinthians 3:1-23 (NCV)

[emphasis added]

How sad that even today, we are still practicing the very thing that Paul taught against. Such thinking is simply indulging our sinful nature and does not honor God. What is worse, those who have yet to come to a saving faith in Christ, see us behave as if we really do not know Christ and think, “Really?!? What’s so special about being a Christian?!? They are no different than anyone else! What makes them think they are so special? They are no different from the way they were before they declared themselves Christian!”

Every time a group of people point out that which makes their group beliefs distinctive from any other group’s beliefs, it is nothing more than pridefulness at its worst. There is absolutely no humility involved whatsoever.

If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.  And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.
Mark 3:24-25 (NKJV)

For by the grace given to me I bid every one among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith which God has assigned him.
Romans 12:3 (RSV)

 What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you?  You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.  And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.  You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.  What do you think the Scriptures mean when they say that the spirit God has placed within us is filled with envy?  But he gives us even more grace to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but favors the humble.”  So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.  Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.  Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you.  God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?
James 4:1-12 (NLT)

There is to be no division within the body of Christ.

If this article has upset you, then perhaps that is a good thing. For we all tend to follow what pleases us, what tickles our ears, what lines up with what we want to believe. And we do so at our own peril. We need to take the blinders off and be like those in Berea when Paul was teaching there.

 That very night the believers sent Paul and Silas to Berea. When they arrived there, they went to the Jewish synagogue.  And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.  As a result, many Jews believed, as did many of the prominent Greek women and men.
Acts 17:10-12 (NLT)

[emphasis added]

Author: Karl D Rhoads

I am a Married, Forgiven, Imperfect Follower of Christ. I am a recovered alcoholic (since July 12, 1999) and an ordained minister of the Gospel of Christ (since July 6, 2002). I have been saved from the grave (more then a few times) by the loving hand of the God and Father of our Lord, Christ Jesus. My heart's desire is to meet the needs of others with the love of Christ as he directs and enables me to do so.

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