Over the years I have had the unfortunate privilege to receive a number of accusations of ‘squabbling’, or ‘nit-picking’, over this or that Bible issue, or point of behaviour, doctrine, etc. Some who make these accusations are just ignorant of what is being done. Some want to protect a particular favoured denomination or theory. Some wish to simply hit out at anyone who says something different. And some think that opposition they call ‘squabbling’ is somehow laughable or divisive. But, are such arguments ‘just squabbling’?
I have no doubt there are squabbles between denominations and individuals. These concentrate on unessential issues or personalised factors. They drag people down into a mire of nasty words and counter-accusations. However, there are also times - and those times are increasing - when genuine believers must stand against false doctrine or bad behaviour. In particular, those called to be theologians must firmly denounce whatever is false or heretical.
In this way there certainly are ‘divisions’, but they are essential divisions, where false ministers and their false arguments are split away from the genuine word of God, so that they do not lead others astray or corrupt the purity of the Lord’s teachings. Sadly, few modern Christians understand why this should be so, which says a lot about their understanding. They would prefer to follow a particular teacher than follow the truth. They are willing to allow error to slip by rather than stop and get away.
Every teacher can make mistakes. I am not talking about that. I am talking about a teacher spreading malicious, inept or heretical matter in the guise of truth. If people stay with these long enough they will imbibe error themselves, seeing no reason to delve more deeply into what they are taking in.
These good folks, who are mainly genuine, seem not to realise how important the various true splits in churches and denominations are. Without them, we would never have had a Protestant movement, a Reformation, or any activity that took Christians back to real Christianity. Would we call the hard work and conscience of the Reformers, often backed by their deaths at the hands of Catholic murderers, mere ‘squabbling’?
We can go back much farther than that! The letters of Paul, Peter,
et al – would you call those ‘squabbling’? After all, they were mostly aimed at Christians who were not acting or believing rightly! And before that, would you call God’s arguments against the ancient Hebrews, ‘squabbling’? On many occasions God had to argue against them to put them back on the right path. Is this not exactly what a genuine teacher does? So, why call it ‘squabbling’? Whenever I hear this accusation, when the teacher is putting right an important matter, I know that the person saying it has no idea what is at stake… and in the Reformers’ days, it literally was ‘at stake’.
Not to understand why there have been, and continue to be, sharp divisions, is to admit to ignorance, not just of the issues involved, but also of God’s holiness and character. Look at what God demands! He does not allow anyone to mingle His words with their own ideas; He does not allow anyone to taint His commands with their watered-down versions. He expects 100% obedience to His word, as He has delivered it. The genuine Christian teacher follows this through by insisting that mistaken or erroneous Christians must return to what God says. It is our task given by God, and is unremitting. If we do not do this task we are ourselves guilty of the same sins.
In most cases, the point being argued is vital. For example, I keep talking about ‘Arminianism’. But, how many understand why I keep talking about it? It is because this particular error is like a cancer; churches are riddled with it. Why is it vital to get rid of? Because, basically, it denies the salvation given by God; it denies predestination; it drives people along am heretical path that leads to hell. When I hear people say they do not wish to get involved, I wonder about their hearts! Why is it not important to sort out this riddle, first presented as a theory by Romanism as part of their counter-reformation? To avoid ‘divisions’ when such may be utterly and urgently needed, is not just futile, it is unthinking and beyond comprehension. What some may call ‘squabbles’ are vital battles against Satan’s inroads and deceptions.
During the acute time of the evil Toronto Blessing, few of us stood against the mass deception. Most thought it would just ‘blow over’, so they refused to oppose it. As a result this deception is now predominant throughout the churches! Those of us who were accused of ‘division’ are proved to be right. I am not surprised we were right – our opposition was a command of God, though it harmed us personally. I prefer to be injured in the line of duty than to stay unharmed as I hide in the rear! The same error is now rampant. As an Arminian movement it drew, and continues to draw, thousands after itself along a ruinous path. By now millions have followed and have ended up in hell, not knowing that what they followed was a Satanic deception. In which way is it ‘squabbling’ to argue against such heinousness?
To stand up publicly against the growing apostasy in the churches is a duty given to all who are called of God. It is the duty of every Christian. It is part of witness and a part of the building of true doctrinal teaching and theology. We do not have the luxury of letting it all slip by us! If we do that, we condone what Satan is doing, and condone what false teachers are saying. Some of us lose our jobs, income and homes for standing by the truth. So please, do not tell me I am just ‘squabbling’.
It is often said that Satan laughs every time Christians ‘fall out’ over silly issues, and I agree. But, he also laughs when he deludes many into thinking that opposing solidly deceptive teachings is just ‘squabbling’! Tell that to Peter, Paul and the other Apostles. Tell that to the Reformers who were burned at the stake. Frankly, I find such accusations to be offensive and unwarranted, if not untaught.
© July 1993
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