Part 1 of a blog series called Misunderstood. This series is about misunderstood Scripture, and Scriptural doctrines.
We believe in the infallible and inerrant nature of scripture. It is without error and is completely trustworthy. We also believe in the doctrine of verbal plenary. This means that God the Holy Spirit supernaturally inspired people to write the Scriptures. He allowed them to use their own literary styles, infuse their own personalities, and reference their own context. However, he guided them in order that there might be a complete and coherent message written to mankind. This message is without error and the very words bear the authorship of the one true God. It is an amazing gift and miracle that we have the scriptures today!
With all that said, we know that sometimes scripture can be used improperly. Over the centuries people have misused scripture, either maliciously or inadvertently. Also, as we study scripture, many will come to different conclusions about what it says. The product of this would be the hundreds of different denominations that all claim to understand the true meanings of scripture. Obviously, we cannot all be correct.
I wholeheartedly believe that Pentecostals, Baptist, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Methodists, many Catholics, and many others are truly our brothers and sisters in Christ. I know that they love and serve the Lord Jesus. They believe in the One true God, the deity of Christ, the substitutionary atonement made by Christ on the cross, and this gracious gift being the only way to salvation.
However, we all have some very different ideas when it comes to interrupting scripture. They are not differences that should divide us beyond fellowship. However, they are differences that tend to define us.
Mark Driscoll put it the best way with an analogy. He said that the Christian world is a lot like the United States. In the U.S. we have national borders and state borders. The national borders are ones that we adamantly fight for. If someone comes and attacks our national border we would fight. We to would not allow this to happen.
In the Christian world, we have similar national borders. These national borders are doctrines that we all agree are essential. Doctrine like there being One true and triune God, the depravity and sinfulness of man, our need for a Savior, the deity of Christ, salvation found only in the work of Christ, and many others. These doctrines define us as a Christian faith. Don’t mess with these!
However, there are also state lines within the U.S. These state lines further define us. We might have disputes over state lines, however, we would never go to war or secede over them. The Churches state lines would be beliefs that are not part of the national border but are instead our interpretation. These state lines would be doctrine such as speaking in tongues, church government, Calvinism vs. Arminism, different methodologies within our churches, and so many others. We have differences of opinion and yet believe in the most important doctrines.
With that said, all of these differences come from different conclusions of the same scripture. This brings me back to my original thought. Scripture is inerrant and infallible, however, we are not. We are not perfect and none of us have all the answers. If we believe that our view, on state lines, are perfect and without error then we are wrong. To look at another brother or sister in Christ and declare them a wolf is sheep’s clothing over a state line is wrong. We can talk about it. We can learn from each other. We can even disagree. However, we can never allow our interpretation of certain Scriptural beliefs to be brought to the level of inerrancy or infallibility.
As we look at the Church of Jesus Christ today, we see so many differences of opinion. These differences have brought so much division among brothers are sisters in Christ. There are those that would rather stick to denominational state line instead of unifying under our national border. I know that I am not the only one that has felt the sting of harsh words from a brother or sister in Christ concerning a state line belief. It can be heartbreaking, infuriating, and disappointing. However, even in those moments we must remember they are our brother and sister. We serve the same Lord and will spend eternity together with Him.
However, despite the division, I have also been encouraged over the last few years at the spirit of unity arising. There is a new spirit of churches and believers coming together for the common goal of making disciples. I have seen denominational distinctives take a backseat to unifying truths. This new spirit of unity must please the God that we all serve. After all, one of the last things Jesus prays before His crucifixion is “Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one” (John 17:11). He also said, “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). He knew that the division was going to happen, but he knows that we are capable of a unifying love for one another.
Lets consider this in the way that we interact and love one another. We must stand firm in truth, but we must find what unifies us as believers.
This series, Misunderstood, will address many different topics. We will look at misunderstood scriptures, misunderstood doctrine, and misunderstood beliefs.
For more from the Misunderstood series, click here