Monday, June 05, 2006

Handling Denominational Distinctives and Differences




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There are distinctives and differences amongst people in life and in the Church. There are proper ways and means to study, communicate and work with differences between assemblies in the Church of God around the world. Now I cannot find where the Church is to part with one another and be exclusive unless there is doctrinal heresey or sin. Yet there are "faith groups" that part from all others when the distinctives are not of a nature to cause ecclesiastical seperation. My observation is that they fight for fightings sake. They state they are "Christian" and call themselves the "Church" yet they are continually sinning in their exclusivity and seperation from God's glorious Church. Now if a person who continues remaining in sin they show themselves to be one not of the Lord. Therefore the behavior of these groups also begs the question if these groups / organizations are Christian? So then how are they to respond to distinctives and differences? An overview is given in this posting for instruction to help these organizations repent and seek the unity of god's people in His glorious Church.


The distinctives should be studied at the Church court level. But the unity and fellowship of the Church is to be promoted by the elders as they teach the people in the congregations the essentials of the faith, lead them into worship and administer the sacraments. Some of the denominational distinctive difference discussions may take years to resolve. Some may never be resolved but the connectionalism of the Bride of Christ should not be destroyed. If the differences in the distinctives cannot be resolved there is no biblical directive to separate. The unity of the Church is to guarded by the elders in these matters. Differences that are not essential doctrinal issues are not to be tools of separation and disunity.

Examples:

When the essentials of the faith are compromised and are not being held to then the Churches should make decrees and proclamations with creedal and confessional statements instructing the Church in the truth and in the need and practice of standing against heresy. This should be done so the members in the church can be on guard and defend the faith.Here area a couple of examples of what can and should happen. One is an example showing when unity should be guarded and maintained by the elders even when there are some differences. The other example will show when there is a need to be a dividing line of separation between two groups where the faith has been discarded.

NOTE: NO PARTICULAR CHURCH GROUP IS IN MIND THESE EXAMPLES ARE FICTICIOUS.

Example A:

Church of the Messiah

a. Holds the unity of the faith and solid Bible theology.
b. They ordain deaconesses for special work with the women based on Rom. 16..
c. The Church as a strong discipleship, missions, and evangelizism program..

First Church Of His Glory.

a. Holds the unity of the faith and solid Bible theology.
b. They ordain deacons (men only based on (1 Tim. 3).
c. The Church as a strong discipleship, missions, and evangelizism program..
In Example A for one group to totally exclude or to seperate from the other because of the difference in point "b" when all the essentials of the faith are adhered to would not be proper. Love and unity should be guarded in both groups by the elders and any statement of difference must be communicated in such a manner so as to help the members continue to be "adhesive" in their love care and fellowship..

Example B:
The Church of the Good Shepherd.
a. Holds the unity of the faith and solid Bible theology.
b. Ordains men as elders to rule. Also ordains both men and women in the deacon roles to serve the physical needs of the church..
c. The Church as a strong discipleship, missions, and evangelizism program..

First Church of the Open Door
a. Teaches that the Bible contains Gods words. There is nothing definite concerning man in sin but that men only have problems not being positive in their thinking and actions. Jesus came to show men how to live even when you may have terrible disasters in your life. After all His love, care and positive approach to life brought him to death and even in this he was full of positive love. This is the essence of what the Bible teaches and we are yo have Jesus as our example. This was His mission in life..
b. The leaders in the church are people with the ability to motivate and lead. They are progressive and open to a diversity of beliefs and lifestyles. They can get things done!.
c. The mission and teaching of the church is that God is love and He or She is the God of all people. So the mission is to teach all to live in love and acceptance..

In this example the First Church of the Open Door is apostate and has left the faith. The Church of the good Shepherd is not apostate and is in the kingdom of God. She is connected to all Christian Churches around the world and is useful to God and His people for fellowship and the exercising of the gifts of her members for the advancement of the Church and her people.In all of this discussion it is implied and supported that the Church is universal, cannot be independent, and must be connected to all other Bible believing Churches. All of the Church is to work together for the furtherance of the gospel and kingdom advancement..
If the Church in the United States and around the globe dropped its independent , sectarian spirit (even in their own denomination and groups) and learned to work with each other in searching the scriptures and judging matters according to the Bible there would be a great consistent testimony before the world. I am concerned that as long as there is a failure to conform to the biblical form of Church government there will never be unity amongst the church or faith groups. Those outside looking at the Church will continue to see the weaknesses. And the cause of many of the weaknesses are due in part to ecclesiastical disunity..
I have not said in any way that the Church is to compromise and mix with groups that have left the faith. God forbid! What is being said is that that there is not one good reason those who hold to the fundamentals of the faith cannot come together on common grounds and defend the essentials of the faith. The denominational "great wall" distinctives that are disrupting fellowship and unity must be torn down. This tearing down must begin with serving Christ in ecclesiastical unity through the biblical government of elders.

Prayer: May the Church unite for the good of all and the unity of the body in doctrine and practice. Lead on oh King eternal!

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