Should We Continue to Fellowship Ourselves?

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Some peoples’ standard for fellowship is that if someone is in error, in any matter whether big or small, they need to be disfellowshipped. If we are supposed to disfellowship people who have any error in any doctrine, would it stand to reason that in some point in time we should no longer have fellowship with ourselves? I know there are things I don’t have nailed down. I have constantly changed my mind over some matters in scripture…so that means I have been wrong a whole bunch of times in the past and am certainly wrong about something even as I type this.

In the same church pew sit people who are amillenial, premillenial, and all kinds of other millenial…there are those who believe instruments are okay and others believe they are sinful. There are some who believe the contribution is separate and apart and others who don’t even think about whether it is separate or not. Some sing praise to the Spirit while others don’t sing those songs as there is no biblical example of worshiping the Holy Spirit. There are those who think we should have three songs and a prayer and others who have never even considered the order of worship. Some lift their hands, some clap, and some just sing. Is it wrong that people who all believe in Jesus Christ should be able to worship in the same room even though they hold differing beliefs on a variety of doctrines? I am not saying anything goes here when it comes to doctrine but I am saying we have to learn how to keep the main thing the main thing and learn which things are negotiable.

One problem Christianity has had in the past is our love for a good debate, a good fight…a knock down, drag out with other Christians to prove our brand of Christianity is superior to their brand. I am glad to see our young people are tired of that and won’t have much at all to do with it. We are going to see some major changes in the church in the next 25 years. I am glad to say that many of the lines of fellowship we have arbitrarily made are going to be erased. Sure others will probably crop up here and there but for the most part our young people don’t care how you think Jesus will return as long as you believe He is Lord. So I guess I can continue to fellowship myself even though I have failings, frailties and I am sure error on some things. I am glad you are patient with me and I am glad God is still working on me.

If we are going to follow the example of Christ we must be willing to extend a hand to those who don’t yet have it all together [which includes each and every one of us!] but who are willing to work on it.

0 Responses

  1. Matt, this is excellent. I really do admire the way you approach things. And you have stated it well. Obviously I don’t believe, as you indicated, that just anything goes. But I also have to admit that the BIble doesn’t outline things in the way we have tended to do so in the past. To draw these lines and expect everyone to toe just it as we do, is insane and leads us to pastures we don’t want to go. As a result, I am afraid there is no one left to turn out the lights because will have all disfellowshiped each other.

    This is what I wonder: When the NT charges us with unity, is it saying to “believe everything perfectly the same?” Or is it perhaps saying “get along in spite of your differences?” I believe it is a lot more of the latter than I have been willing to admit in the past.

    Thanks again!

  2. Even Peter and Paul had their tense moments. I doubt Paul even considered thinking Peter was no longer a Christian. We cannot believe everything perfectly the same. What is more, we never see in scripture that getting every doctrine correct is the grounds for salvation. Salvation is a gift from God by his own grace through reconciliation that is brought by His Son Jesus Christ to those who did not deserve it. Thinking we have to get all the jots and tittles right means we no longer think salvation is a free gift but that it comes by our own merits, right thinking, and logic. It is the difference that Paul talks about in Romans between a wage and a gift. The only wage we have earned, according to Paul is God’s wrath due to our sin. The gift is salvation that comes not by works (which to me includes the work of trying to perfect our doctrine). People have made this a salvation issue where it is never put that way in scripture.

  3. I wonder how many congregations today would fellowship the church in Corinth. Some of them didn’t understand that there was only one God! Add to that their mistaken views, disorderly assemblies, immorality problems, etc.… maybe we shouldn’t even fellowship Paul since he obviously accepted them.

    Grace and peace,

  4. While Paul never considered thinking Peter was no longer a Christian, he nevertheless, “withstood him to the face” (Although Peter’s problem had to do with hypocrisy rather than believing/teaching an incorrect doctrine).

    I totally agree with and realize that our salvation does not depend upon our getting every teaching of the bible down pat and that if we refused to fellowship anybody “espousing” anything untrue — that we would indeed need to disfellowship our own selves. Therefore, to oppose having fellowship with anyone/everyone holding differing beliefs and/or opinions than ourselves is rediculous. But we all have our own takes regarding a myriad of subjects, be it the millenium, the use of instruments, whether children are born sinners, or whatever. What I’m still trying to figure out is this — While I don’t think God wants me disfellowshipping every well intioned brother who has been taught (and believes) that babies are born sinners estranged from God, neither does he want me to act as if such were true for the sake of “unity.” So what are we to do? When in a bible class someone says that Jesus didn’t die for everyone, or that the physical temple of God will be rebuilt in Jerusalem upon the return of Christ, what should be our response? Are we to say, “who knows? One opinion is as good as the next”? Or are we to say, “actually, children are born perfectly innocent as well as free from sin and on the same day Jesus returns the judgment of all will take place” (albeit with love, patience, and understanding).
    I guess my fear is that in trying to avoid “debates” and/or any other type of conflict, people will begin to feel as though it really doesn’t matter what they believe (so long as they genuinely trust Jesus to save them).

    Matt, you wrote:
    “I am glad to say that many of the lines of fellowship we have arbitrarily made are going to be erased. Sure others will probably crop up here and there but for the most part our young people don’t care how you think Jesus will return as long as you believe He is Lord.”

    Unfortunately, I do believe that part of the reason our young people “don’t care how you think Jesus will return” is because they have no idea themselves….

  5. Hank,

    You raise some really good points here. I think you have some valid concerns/fears in this matter. My thought is that mature Christians can have a civil disagreement and walk away better from the discussion. If one party is not so mature then things don’t always go so well. I am not saying I am always the mature one in this. There have been times I have been in arguments that I should have avoided or handled a lot better than I did. But if we love each other we should be free to state what we really think on a matter of doctrine and not be afraid that someone will disagree with us. I guess I am reacting to what I have perceived as arrogance by some who believe they know everything so exactly that if you disagree with them in any matter you are the one who is mistaken/wrong and the one to be chastised for teaching false doctrine.

    So we still stand up for truth. Truth still exists. But we do so in a humble, loving, and mature way.

  6. Disfellowship ourselves?

    I think the Marx Doctrine is applicable here (Groucho, not Karl):

    “I wouldn’t be a member of a club that would have someone like me as a member.”

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