Showing posts with label Division. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Division. Show all posts

Monday, May 06, 2024

Anonymous Asks (301)

“What causes church splits?”

Let’s start with this proposition: God is gracious, and may continue to bless the efforts of his people even when they make mistakes, often in spite of them. But I think we can safely say the Lord is never behind factionalism. Even Martin Luther worked to reform Roman Catholicism from within for fifteen years before settling for the alternative.

In short, there is no such thing as a good church split. Some other outcome is always preferable, and something irreplaceable is lost in every fracture of a local testimony.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Not Peace but a Sword

The popular notion that lemmings in the wild commit mass suicide by leaping off cliffs is a sixty-five-year-old lie that has attained the status of myth. So says the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The perpetrators were employees of the Disney Corporation in a 1950s documentary called White Wilderness. They staged the fake lemming migration with a combination of tight camera angles, judicious editing and a turntable, of all things. For the legendary cliff scene, they hurled lemmings into an Alberta river from off camera and captured them on film thrashing and drowning.

The reason? It made for good TV. Seriously.

Friday, June 23, 2023

Too Hot to Handle: The United Method

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

A few weeks back, the United Methodist Church voted to maintain its traditional stance against same-sex marriage and non-celibate gay clergy.

Tom: Now I’m not big on tradition for tradition’s sake, but I think this decision is probably worth remarking on just because it is so unusual for a large denomination these days. The progressives in every sizable group of Christians are always hard at work moving the window of acceptable discourse, faith and practice to the left, and have experienced great success over the last century or so. By way of contrast, “conservative” Christians have reliably failed to conserve very much at all. You’ve seen it, Immanuel Can, and I’ve seen it too.

Did you notice what made the difference this time?

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Wheat and Weeds

I was talking to a close friend last week. He’s serving as an elder in a local congregation of believers. A man of their gathering has raised an issue; he feels very strongly that certain forms of worship are simply out of court for Christians. But the form he most particularly dislikes is one that scripture never even really talks about one way or the other. In fact, if I told you what it was, you’d likely be very surprised; it’s something that Christians have done routinely for a long time now.

My pal was struggling with how to handle this guy.

The objector is pretty strong on his beliefs, and he’s not at all happy that the elders are not jumping to his side instantly. But my friend is more thoughtful and scriptural in his convictions; and I think he senses that the objection is more a matter of personal preference than of principle.

Tuesday, November 01, 2022

The Jumping-Off Point

Many years ago, long before they were woke, crazy and depraved, I was a big superhero comic book fan. I owned shelves full of them. In my early twenties while still in college, I wrote and drew a few published comic books to see if I could make a career out of it. (I probably could have been passable if I had persisted with it, but I would never have been a top-drawer industry professional.)

Superhero comic books are like soap operas in that they tell multiple small stories within larger story arcs that overlap and never really end. The idea is to get the reader invested in the characters and coming back month after month to see what happens next.

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Mining the Minors: Hosea (14)

I grew up with two brothers. In their teens, one was good natured, pleasant to be around and (at least outwardly) compliant with the house rules. The other was perpetually contentious and surly, constantly butting heads with our father and any other authority figures with the great misfortune to cross his path.

It is no surprise to find that the latter brother spent more time in my father’s office than the former. No particular prejudice was involved in that.

We’ll come back to that thought shortly. Meanwhile, let’s finish Hosea chapter 4 …

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Division and the Preservation of the Bible

People often complain that Christians are divided. Denominationally, intellectually, interpretationally, geographically and/or racially divided. Some even take this as evidence the claims of Christ are untrue.

I take a little different tack on that subject. In 2014, I wrote about the reasons Christians are divided. In 2015, I even wrote about the good that occasionally results from these divisions.

If I keep coming back to the subject, it’s not because I want to repeat myself but because so many people see it as a major problem.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Too Hot to Handle: Abandoning Evangelicalism

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Rachel Held Evans, who is post-evangelical herself, documents dissatisfaction among those she calls “defenders of the marginalized” in U.S. evangelical churches. In some quarters, it appears, the fact that so many of their fellow pew-occupiers voted for Donald Trump is not going down well.

Brandi Miller tweets, “I drafted my divorce papers with evangelicalism a long time ago. Tonight I serve them.” Glennon Melton asks, “Does a Love Warrior Go? YES. If that’s what her deepest wisdom tells her to do.”

Tom: What do you think, Immanuel Can? Imagine your fellow churchgoers voted for an immoral, bigoted incompetent with no regard for the dignity of women, as Rachel so delicately puts it. Something worth leaving your church over?

Friday, March 15, 2019

Too Hot to Handle: The United Method

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Dueling Diotrephes

“I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church.”

John’s third epistle is thought to date from around AD65, and to be one of the last books of the Bible written. When the beloved apostle wrote it, local churches had been planted all over the Roman empire, had named elders or had them named for them, and many of these had had a decade or more to mature and to benefit from and share significant portions of what we now call the New Testament.

That’s when the wolves started coming out in force.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Bad Idea Revisited

Here’s yet another post about the need to reunite the visible Church. They’re a dime a dozen at the moment, a fact which might set off alarm bells in the heads of our premillennialist readers.

As is usually (but not always) the case, well-intentioned folks are convinced the Church cannot be effective on the world stage until it is politically unified:

“The first step in [retaking our culture and rebuilding our civilization] is UnSchisming the Church. And the first step in UnSchisming the Church is to agree that the Body of Christ needs to be whole again. The 3 segments of the Church [Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant] are going to have to agree to that before we can make any movement on resolving this issue.”

Color me a bit cynical on that front, but I appreciate the thought.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

False Unities and Lines of Division

As Christians living in a day in which we have every possible advantage in understanding what God has revealed of himself to mankind down through the centuries, the importance of having our hearts and heads thoroughly marinated in the word of God cannot be overstated.

There is no area of human investigation that matters more. None.

But in a fallen world, the word of God divides. The more we read it and follow it, the more we will find ourselves separated from those who don’t.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Falling Down Together

The Battle of Gibeon is a perplexing episode in Israel’s history.

Let me set the stage: Saul, the first king of Israel, is dead. The nation has not formally acknowledged a new king but instead is slipping back into tribalism. David has the anointing of God, but lacks a unanimous mandate from the people. His kinsmen in Judah formally recognize David as rightful king, but that probably says less about their spirituality than it does about their sense of family loyalty.

Of course you’d want your guy at the top of the heap. Everybody does.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Division and the Preservation of the Bible

The most recent version of this post is available here.