Division

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. (1 Corinthians 1:10 ESV)

Anybody who has spent time in discussion about religion, politics or any other subject will be acutely aware that division boils down to an individual’s frame of reference being polar opposite to another position. The Jewish tradition of interpretation (PaRDeS) for example, is helpful in this respect in avoiding division.

One way of avoiding division and conflict is to agree a ‘frame of reference’ then stick to it. This website is a reflection of orthodox creedal themes that identify key elements of the Judeo-Christian faith. The 'frame of reference' is rooted in a Jewish hermeneutical approach to the interpretation of the scriptures: which in the first instance is a plain simple reading. Only afterwhich can deeper meanings be read on the condition that they do not conflict with the surface meaning.

Beyond using the simple hermeneutic (interpretive approach) above division can occur for the following six reasons:

1. Pride

If pride lives in the life of the church it ultimately leads to division. If you have church members who ‘delight’ in providing opinions or expect to be consulted about church decisions and get angry when their ideas are not obeyed, then you probably have a pride situation emerging.

2. Heresy

“Heresy” is quite a claim to make of another person or group of people, granted heretics exist today as they have always existed. Be mindful of disagreements about small, nonessential details. This is not heresy just a lot of fuss that probably comes out of pride or hermeneutic error. 

As we grow in Christ a believer may stumble in and out of heresy concerning personal ideas about the Bible. However, a true heretic is someone who activley opposes Christian orthodoxy. The primary concern for the church has been people who do not believe that Jesus Christ is God, or that there is one God expressed in three processions; or that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead.

If you are a leader be mindful that you may have people in your congregation who are great students of the Bible and true defenders of orthodoxy. If you have conflicting questions being asked after a meeting about the content of a sermon, it is important to seek understaing about a given response, as it may save your church!

3. Legalism

Legalists love making rules and use them as weapons to divide the church body into separate parts, it is like they are playing God. Instead of bringing glory to Jesus, their 'personal convictions' and ‘judgements’ simply overwhelm sanity. (Rom. 14:1–12).

4. Distrust

Distrust is the seed of division both among the people and especially among leaders. Leaders have a God-ordained responsibility to be trustworthy and above reproach (1 Tim. 3:2, 10; Titus 1:6). Church members have a God-ordained duty to honour and submit to their leaders (1 Thess. 5:12–13; 1 Tim. 5:17; Heb. 13:7, 17).

Leaders and members must work in unity to ensure that they are trusting one another for the hope we have in Christ. Any disagreements should be fully resolved, and no-one should engage in discussion about another person without their presence, so that they can defend themselves.

5. Traditionalism

Tradition is a good thing when it is used for its intended purpose, for reliable religious practice (1 Cor. 11:2; 2 Thess. 2:15; 3:6). When it is taken over and above its intended functionality it becomes an idol and a barrier to the work of the Holy Spirit, the end will be division.

6. Flesh and Spirit

In 1 Corinthians concerning the distinction of spiritual status among Christians we find a curious discussion about the dynamic tension between the 'flesh nature' and the 'spiritual nature’. It is an ongoing conflict in our hearts; the Greek words are Pneumatikos and Psychikos, which can be very loosely interpreted to mean ’spirit' and ‘mind' (of the flesh). This dynamic boils down to the fact that 'spirit and flesh' are of two different and incompatible fabrics, herein lays the principle battle ground and cause of division. This understanding shows us that thoughts from the mind are at war with revelation from the Spirit in the congregational soup we call church.

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