|Balance Between Unity & Defending Against Heresy|
Addendum 1 to "Unity & The Body"
(by Chris Long)
While I discussed the subject of balance in "Unity & The Body", that article was admittedly more focussed on the "unity" side of the "strive for unity but watch out for heresy" equation (on purpose). It did not take long, less than 30 minutes from the time I sent that article in fact, until I received an email implying I was leading people astray. I think with many of the articles I've written that I have been told that in some fashion, so you'd think I would expect it. I've been told how people's "blood is on my hands", etc. But it still always somehow manages to take me a bit by surprise.
This time though, I confess, I found it profoundly ironic that with an article about love & unity and the need to be careful about what we say towards others in the Body, in less than 30 minutes, I was being accused of leading people astray, not teaching correctly from God's Word, and being given a "reminder" that as a leader I "will be held to a higher accountability by God."
Why was I told this? Well because there is so much error and heresy within the "church" that I should be calling out as such. That I should be teaching people to "defend the faith" in these last days and watch out for heresy which is so common. I should be giving people Scriptures such as 2 Timothy chapters 3 and 4, and 2 Peter chapter 3, which provide clear instruction on watching out for false teachers and false teachings.
Not only can I not argue against those arguments, but I am in support of them. There is definitely heresy and nonsense that has infiltrated the church. Those types of Scriptures ARE a part of the Bible for a reason, and we would be wise to heed them. Indeed, I have written (albeit somewhat indirectly) along those lines before and for some time have had articles swirling in my head along those lines, which I'm sure will come out at some point. Scriptures such as those, the book of Jude, Matthew 24, and others are in the Bible for a reason.
But so are Scriptures such as John 17, Romans 14, and 1 Corinthians 12, all of which were major foundational Scriptures to the "Unity & The Body" article.
My personal observation has been that those that are super "gung ho" on watching out against error, calling out heresy whereever they think they see it, being quick to point out where they think others are making mistakes, seem to be some of the most "loveless Christians" I've ever seen. And of course "loveless Christians" should be an oxymoron, since "love" and "Christian" should be synonymous.
By all means, be on guard against false teaching. But by all means, also strive for unity in the Body.
Be careful not to be taken in by false teachers, yes. But also be careful that you're walking in (and speaking forth) love.
Those that focus only on the need to be ultra-careful in these last days and watch out for error, yet miss the other side of the coin are out of balance.
The Pharisee Spirit lives on today. That was one of the things that struck me not that long ago. I used to read of the Pharisees and the Teachers of the Law and what Jesus said about them (both of whom He reserved some very strong rebukes for) and just see them as "back in Bible days." Then one day the lightbulb went on, and I realized that the exact same people exist today - and they are just as prevalent in our churches as they were in the days of Jesus. Just as the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law thought they were "defending the TRUE faith" in their day, such people exist today. Jesus spoke often of their blindness, hypocrisy, pride, lack of love, and much more.
The thing is they THOUGHT they were representing God. They THOUGHT they were doing God's Work. They THOUGHT they were defending what was right and true. But they THOUGHT wrong!! I'm afraid there are many who might just fit the same category today and be absolutely deceiving themselves!
With that said, on the other side, there are those that are willing to let go of or minimize the Word of God, all in the name of "unity" and "loving others." They are also very wrong, and there are some very strong Scriptures along these lines as well.
There are indeed quite a number of churches that are getting very "wishy washy" these days - very "ambivilent" about things - playing "fast and loose" with the Scriptures even on major fundamental issues of the Christian faith. This is usually because they don't ascribe the proper place to the Word of God to begin with. Although unity is important, sometimes division is sadly necessary when such people will not align themselves with the clear truth in Scripture. If it comes down to standing with a pastor or standing with God, I want to be with God. If you want to see this whole thing in action "in real life", I would encourage a read through of the "'Rationalizing Sin' Follow-Up" article which actually shows a letter from a pastor that seemed to have a faulty foundation, and my response where you will see that I do believe division is sometimes sadly necessary. (I personally believe it to be a very "eye opening" article as the pastor's letter is so representative of how many think - you can find it at the link given above at the start of this one).
In addition, the Bible says a lot about sin, the need for repentance, hell, the importance of making sure you're not on the "broad road", watching out against deception, etc. There are a lot of churches and pastors that have seriously downplayed these themes. In other words, they've gone out of balance, instead placing most or all of their emphasis on things such as God's love for us, how God's always with us & for us & wants to bless us, and how we're just to love others.
This, incidentally, is why I believe God has had many of my personal articles in the past focus on these oft-neglected themes. If the church as a whole is generally "out of balance" one direction (and I do believe it has been), the way to correct that isn't necessarily to just teach generically in the middle, but to teach (at least initially) strongly on those "out of balance" areas. That's where articles of mine such as "Rationalizing Sin", "How to Get to Hell", "What is Truth?", "The Importance of Repentance", etc. have sprung out of in the last few years.
But I realized that I myself was perhaps getting a bit too out of balance. Those topics are important. Standing on the truth of God's Word is important. Defending truth is important. But so is loving others, and not just in word, but in deed. So is treating the Body of Christ as the FAMILY in Christ that it is. So is watching out for a critical, judgmental spirit. So is looking out for pride - especially "religious pride" - one of the most insidious kinds!
The truth is that there is a balance to all of this stuff and we all need to strive to find that balance.
I'm trying to do so as best I can, albeit probably making some mistakes in the process.
I hope you're striving for the same.
This is version 1.1 of this document (May 29, 2012).