[* Background picture - The Keswick congregation : All one in Christ Jesus.]
It may sometimes be divine to disagree. Endowed with the freedom of will and intellect by the Creator, it is almost inevitable that human beings, under different environment, circumstance, education and experience should see matters in different lights. And so there is disagreement. Such disagreement is inevitable in religion. Faith in God must be received with conviction, and in itself creates a body of convictions. These convictions must be declared. One cannot and must not be a secret disciple. For a great body of men always to walk together in perfect harmony either means that they sacrifice personal convictions for a false peace or they are cowards at heart. In truth, to disagree often produces clarification of great questions and prevents stagnation of the mind. But how shall we disagree?
One of the leaders in prayer at a
recent General Conference of the
-The Missionary Review of the World.
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There are little diamonds, or little bits of diamond dust, genuine indeed, but of no further use than to polish the larger diamonds. It is often very difficult to see why the strong, the bold, the uncompromising follower of Christ should be hampered and hindered by such associations, but they will be found at last to be God's most valuable purifying agencies, and we shall find them our greatest blessings. We are not to reject them and try to get away from them. God has a place for them in His Church. We are not to try to get up an elite company congenial, pleasant Christian associates, in every way desirable, but we are to accept all the conditions which God has mingled in this world, and to receive them in His name, counting it as the highest proof of His confidence in us, that He entrusts them to our spiritual care and fellowship. The most profitable church in which one's lot can be cast, and the very best school in which our character can be developed, is just such a combination of various elements and even trying surroundings.
- A. B. Simpson, D.D.
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Paul condemns schism and divisions as works of the flesh (1 Cor. 3: 3), and he exhorts the Corinthians to be perfectly joined together in one mind (1 Cor. 1: 10), and teaches that there should be no schism in the body (1 Cor. 12: 25), and that no spiritual gifts are of any profit without Love (1 Cor. 13: 1-3). He allows no one to separate himself from, or to make schism in, a Church, on the plea of defects in it.
If indeed a Church, in her teaching and practice, not only adulterates truth with falsehood, and corrupts what is holy with what is idolatrous, but also enforces her errors and corruptions on others as terms of communion with her, and thus makes it impossible to communicate with her in what she has that is true and holy, without communicating also with what is erroneous and idolatrous; if she excommunicates all who do not and cannot communicate with her in her errors and corruptions, then a schism there is, and must be; and a sin there is, and a grievous sin. For wherever schism is, there is sin. But the guilt of the schism rests with her, who makes communion in her sins to be essential and indispensable to communion with herself.
- BISHOP WORDSWORTH
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The Christian groups, organized in complete separation from one another, base that separation on various grounds: the Episcopal Churches and the Presbyterians, largely on modes of church government; the Baptists, on a rite; the Congregationalists, on the independence of the local assembly; the Methodists, on a traditional organization; the Brethren on a mode of worship; and the Quakers and the Salvation Army, largely on methods of service, and on a negation of rites. The problem raised by true catholicity is not whether the isolating doctrine or practice - without which membership in the local assembly is forbidden - is right or wrong, but whether that doctrine or practice - true or false - can be made a ground of separation with the approval of God. Believers everywhere would do well to ponder the fact that "factions, divisions, parties"* are set (Gal. 5: 20) in a black catalogue of sins WHICH WILL FORFEIT THE KINGDOM. "Of THE WHICH I FOREWARN YOU [believers], EVEN AS I DID FOREWARN YOU, THAT THEY WHICH PRACTICE SUCH THINGS [whether believers or unbelievers] SHALL NOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD."
[* The Revised Version corrects a
translation so misleading - "strife, seditions,
heresies" - as almost to suggest bias in the Authorized translators. ‘Heresy’ in the sense of ‘error’, is not
the meaning of the word the Apostle uses. Liddell and Scott - "a sect, a school of philosophy": the
"The cause of God now calls for men of steel ; and a foundation fact that needs to be thoroughly mastered is that to leave ‘churches’ which no longer officially hold the Christian fundamentals is not leaving the Church at all: it is merely abandoning an apostasy - a taking to the lifeboat from a rapidly sinking wreck."
- D. M. PANTON.
Faith in a coming Rule of Righteousness
and Peace on this Earth, was a fundamental doctrine of the Church. Isa. ch.11;
2. The doctrine of Resurrection, to occur at Christ’s Second Advent: was a fundamental doctrine of the Church. John 14: 3 ; 1 Thess. 4: 15-16.
3. The intermediate state and place of the dead: was a fundamental doctrine of the Church. Luke 16: 19-31; John 3: 13 ; Acts 2: 27, 34.
4. The necessity of a believer attaining a high standard of practical righteousness, for entrance into the millennial kingdom : was a fundamental doctrine of the Church. Matt. 5: 20; Luke 20: 35; Rev. 19: 7, 8.
5. The practise of Foot Washing in obedience to a divine command: was a fundamental doctrine of the Church. John 13: 15 ; 1 Tim 5: 10.
6. The use of unleavened bread and un-fermented wine (not fruit juice), to commemorate our Lord’s death and coming millennial kingdom: was a fundamental doctrine of the Church. Matt. 26: 17, 26; Acts 12: 3, 5. Matt. 26: 29 ; Luke 22: 18.
7. Selection by the Holy Spirit, from amongst members in the ‘Body’ of Christ for the ministry of His word: was a fundamental doctrine of the Church. Acts 13: 2, 4; Acts 16: 6; 20: 28.
8. Believer’s baptism - (that is, by immersion* in water) - was a fundamental doctrine of the Church. Acts 2: 41; 18: 8 ; * Acts 8: 38, 39.
Any Christian who believes ALL the above Scriptural doctrines today and seeks to teach them to others, will have no need to leave the church - it’s members will throw him out! Why? Simply because he will not fit into their SECT. - Ed.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower
Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.
- William Cowper.