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Sectarianism in the church

Sectarianism Division Strifechirbit_audio_jpg LISTEN TO AUDIO

“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God”. – Galatians 5:19-21

In the above passage, God’s Word calls sectarianism a sin. Sedition is listed as one of the works of the flesh. Anytime we call ourselves Baptist, Lutheran, Messianic, Methodist, Pentecostal, and so on, we are committing the sin of sedition (i.e. sectarianism).

Sectarianism leads to bigotry, discrimination, or even hatred among fellow Christians by attaching non-existent importance to differences between other members of the church of Jesus Christ – such as church denominations or factions.

The apostle Paul exhorts us to “grow up.”

Sectarianism is not only a sin, it is also a sign of immaturity. Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God we are still not mature (Ephesians 4:13-14). The ideological underpinnings of sectarian attitudes and behaviors today are extraordinarily varied. Oftentimes, members of a particular religious group believe that their theological or denominational emphasis is superior to others, or even necessary for salvation. Therefore, they will aggressively seek converts from other Christian groups in order to persuade them to believe as they do. Strife exists continually between churches. Also, theological wars will be declared against adherents of opposing factions because they believe that their opponents are dangerous and heretical, and must be purged from the church. History proves that even torture and murder have been committed in the name Christ. In the not-too-distant past, the Roman Catholic Church actually burned people alive for believing them to being “heretics,” (i.e. holding opinions different than what the Catholic church believed to be the truth).

John Calvin, an influential French theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation, did likewise to Michael Servetus, the Spanish physician, because of his contradictory beliefs. “John Calvin had a prolonged, murderous hate in his heart for Servetus,” writes Dan Conner, “and was willing to violate Scripture to put another to death and in a most cruel way.” (1)

Should the various members of the Body of Christ be divided and operate independently of one another?

Not if we’re preaching the same Jesus and the same gospel message. For instance, in a real human body, what would happen if one foot said to the other, “I’m going in one direction while you go in another.” Or, the lungs would say to the heart, “I’m going to keep on breathing without your help.” What a mess that would be! Well, that’s what internal division has done to the Body of Christ among Protestants since the Reformation period. According to the latest statistics, there are over 200 Protestant denominations in the world today. Just about every town has a variety of Protestant churches dotting the landscaping. One church is for white Christians, another is for blacks, another is for those who believe in baptismal sprinkling, another for complete dunking. Some churches believe the King James Bible is the only true Bible to use, while others teach that any translation is the Word of God, and so on.

Is all this division over race, petty arguments, or trivial theological matters really necessary? Of course not. Why can’t we agree to disagree on the minor points and concentrate on promoting the major points of sound Christian doctrine?  Why can’t we simply call ourselves “Christians” or “Followers of Jesus Christ” and stop labeling ourselves according to denominational lines? Wouldn’t we be wiser to pool our evangelistic efforts and financial resources and just have one church for the entire city or town to worship in?

If all fundamental Christian churches would learn to work together in unity. just think of how much confusion and duplicated efforts we could eliminate, and how much more effective we could be in spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ and furthering the kingdom of God?

– Luis Josephus

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COMMENTS:

From Pierre Andre Ferguson: “Amen brother, my religious views state that I am a disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ (John 13:34-35). This phrase is mentioned more times in the New Covenant than the word, Christian. On top of that, the “disciples” were first called Christians in Acts 11:25-30 in Antioch by those who probably were not disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ. You know how the world loves to label people and things according to their understanding. When you use the word, Christian, people tend to ask , What denomination are you?” And there is nothing wrong with saying that you are a Christian (1 Peter 4:16). But personally, from my experience people marvel when you specify by saying that “I am a disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ. “ Variance means the fact, quality, or state of being variable or variant: difference, deviation, the fact or state of being in disagreement, dissension, dispute, a disagreement between two parts of the same legal proceeding that must be consonant, a license to do some act contrary to the usual rule, the square of the standard deviation, discord – at variance, not in harmony or agreement (Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary).”

From Alex Ander: “1 Corinthians 3 whole chapter, I want to emphasize verse,16-17 and verses 21-23.”


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Alleged Prophet Rebukes Pastor John MacArthur

John-MacArthurOn August 16, 2015, a self-proclaimed prophet with a Scottish accent rudely interrupted a church service at Grace Community Church in Panorama City, California. He shouted charges against Pastor John MacArthur until he was escorted out of the church by deacons.

He accused John MacArthur, of the popular TV and radio program, “Grace To You,” of teaching Cessationism, considered by some Pentecostals and Charismatics to be a false doctrine. Among other things the alleged prophet shouted, “You have grieved the Holy Spirit. Your doctrine of cessation is in error, John MacArthur. If you don’t believe in prophets, you’re looking at one…”

Afterward, John MacArthur explained that “this uninvited guest claimed that it is heresy to say that spiritual gifts like tongues and prophecy have ceased and he added that, according to 1 Corinthians 14, the spirits of prophets are subject to the prophets and if this man were a real prophet, he wouldn’t have behaved that way.”

Although I don’t completely agree with everything that Pastor MacArthur has taught in the past, I believe He is a man of God and a gifted expositor of the Bible. This incident is typical of squabbles over trivial differences in doctrines that have kept the Christian church divided for thousands of years. These divisive arguments have given birth to so many church splits, hundreds of denominations and much confusion among believers. It’s time Christians stopped fighting among themselves and took a united stand to preach the gospel light of Jesus Christ to a world living in darkness.

What do you think?

Did this alleged prophet do the right thing? Is it proper for someone to rudely interrupt an orderly church service and shout accusations against a respected pastor or preacher?

Email us your comments below…

– Luis Josephus

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See video below documenting recent incident on 8/16/15


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What was the original church like?

Today, there are many churches with many names, different traditions and even different ideas of Christianity. I have often thought to myself, “Is this really what Jesus had in mind when he was preaching to his followers?” I’m sure the all-knowing God knew that one day the church would take on identity that is completely different from its original form, and it begs me to ask the question, “What was the church like back then?”

Pastor Yosefus may be better at answering this question than me, but from my readings, I have come to imagine that the original followers of Christ were not well-organized and were dispersed amongst individual villages and homes. I also believe that they were forced to hide their worship for fear of persecution. These two things seem to deduce that the church was not a designated building, as so many believe it is today, but rather a group of people who had been spiritually changed by Jesus’ teachings.

The Called-Out Ones

From my studies, I have found that the original version of the New Testament (which was
written in Koine Greek) actually used the term “ecclesia” when referring to “the church.” When translated, “ecclesia” literally means “called-out ones.”

Once Jesus was crucified, it was up to the disciples, mainly Peter and Paul, to continue spreading the message of Jesus Christ. When I read all the letters that were written to the churches, I get the idea that “church” was not about a denomination, tradition or ceremony that took place in a building but about a new standard of living that was guided by Jesus’ teachings of love, peace, understanding and equality.

There are some verses, however, that instructs “the called out ones” to be baptized for the washing away of sins, to rejoice in song, pray for thanksgiving and to gather to
remember Jesus and to take in communion. Other than these things, I haven’t read anything else that makes me think we must gather as a titled group in a designated building to worship the Lord.

For me, Christianity is a simple religion that is about living by example. It’s not about being pushy or commanding others to be a certain way. Jesus preached that we should not judge others unless we wish to be judged, and I feel that many church-goers judge those who do not attend traditional churches. I don’t think this is what Jesus had in mind when he called out for us to follow him.

Even with all these findings, I am still quite concerned as to what Jesus really had in mind when he established his church. Perhaps he just wanted in to be a loose gathering where people were instructed and fellowshipped around the ideals of Jesus Christ and where people also testified of the blessings given to us by God. I’m not sure if we really need stained glass windows, musical entertainment and beautiful architecture. In fact, these things may actually distract us from the truth.

This guest post was written by Whitney Reed

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Whitney Reed owns and manages www.ChristianColleges.org. A stay-at-home mom, Whitney is also involved in volunteer and charity work. In her spare time, she enjoys reading books and writing guest blog posts on several different topics of interest.

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