by Matt Slick
There is in the Christian Church a great gifting in the area of pride. It is everywhere, in every Church, in every denomination. It manifests itself in division and polite "Christian" mockery, gossip, and condemnation of other Christians who do not believe as they do. Don't think you are so innocent. The pride that I speak of is that which is anchored in our self-assured opinions about non-essential doctrines. I am not speaking of the central doctrines upon which the Christian faith depends and by which we are able to recognize and refute error. Such central doctrines as the Trinity, the deity of Christ and the Holy Spirit, Jesus' physical resurrection, salvation by grace, etc., are the basics of the Christian faith that unites us all. It is not these that are the problem. Rather, it is the non-essentials of the faith where we draw the dividing line in our hearts and look down upon other Christians who are not as wise as we and then we say, "Lord, I thank you that I am not like that Christian over there."
One Church teaches a pre-tribulation rapture and subtly implies that its doctrine is the true doctrine, rightly divided; other options are systematically looked down upon and indirectly division in the body of Christ is increased. Another church teaches that amillennialism is correct and that anyone not believing in it cannot rightly understand God's word. Another church condemns the Charismatic gifts in such a way that you are left believing that anyone who is charismatic is without maturity in the Lord. It is not an opinion that is offered, but the "truth" that is offered at the expense of humility and love and unity in the body of Christ.
Do these teachers who "knowingly" teach that they have the truth say that their positions are opinions and that they are debatable and that the believer should study for himself and make up his own mind -- even if it is contrary to the teacher's position? Do these teachers leave the listeners believing that the grace of God is also working in others with whom they disagree in the non essentials?
Is not God the God of all Christians. Didn't Jesus shed His blood for all Christians, even the charismatics, even the Calvinists, even the Baptists, even for those steeped in quiet tradition and liturgy, and even for those who weep during worship? Yes, He did.
Where is the humility of teaching about the non-essentials and saying that it is possible that another position on them may be true? When do teachers say that other gifted teachers see things differently...and that that is okay? Unfortunately, those who focus on the non-essentials to the point of division in the body of Christ counter Christ's own words which speak of unity and love. Am I right or am I wrong? Are we prideful in our hearts or not?
Pride, like humility, hides itself in its host so that it cannot be seen except by others. Pride is in the Christian Church. We see it in the denominational divisions that are rampantly scorching the land. Instead of uniting in humility, instead of admitting that our own sinfulness is what has resulted in our inability to come to a unified belief in the non-essentials is simply proof that we all must be humble before God and live according to Romans 14:1-8,
"Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. 2One man has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. 3Let not him who eats regard with contempt him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats, for God has accepted him. 4Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and stand he will, for the Lord is able to make him stand. 5One man regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Let each man be fully convinced in his own mind. 6He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. 7For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; 8for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lords."
Christians who disagree should admit to each other that the reason we disagree is because of our own shortsightedness, our own inability to rightly divide God's word. All of us must and should admit that we can be wrong in these non-essentials. If we can do this, then it is necessarily true that the other person may be correct. This is humility. But, I know, you don't believe the other person is correct. Fine, neither does he about you.
Look into your own heart. Are you so confident about when the rapture will happen, or about predestination or the lack thereof, or baptism for infants or not, or alter calls, or Saturday or Sunday worship, or hymns verses praise music, or the charismatic gifts, that you will look down in your own heart upon a brother or sister in Christ for whom the Lord has shed His precious blood? Or, do you love them instead?
Ask God to examine your heart and see if there be any prideful or hurtful way in it.
"Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; 24And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way," (Psalm 139:23-24).