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HomeSpiritual GrowthJesus said love each other, so why are we arguing?

Jesus said love each other, so why are we arguing?

The real motive behind theological debates may not be what you think.

Christian love

I enjoy a good theology discussion, or even a debate, as much as anyone. It can be a good experience, but it can go off the rails into an argument.

There is something in our nature that makes us want to be right, and even to win a debate. We may feel threatened when someone has a different opinion than we have. Some say they are trying to help those in error, but that’s always sounded suspect to me.

There are many verses in the Bible about loving each other, for example, Luke 10:27. I have found much less saying we should be focused on correcting each other’s theology.

Jesus told his disciples that the world would know they were His by the love they had for each other. He did not say the world would know us by our correct doctrine or theology.

It is a good thing to have correct theology, and that is something we should always be striving toward. We should also be humble enough to understand that we could be wrong. We should accept that there are other points of view.

There will be no theology exam when we get to heaven. We will find out where we were wrong, and by then it won’t matter. We will discover we were right about some things, and that won’t matter either.

There are few essentials to the faith. Christ Jesus, God in the Flesh, crucified, dead and buried, and raised again for the remission of our sins. Most everything else is commentary and instructions for our earthly life.

Some concepts are not clear in Scripture. We all bring our biases and past experiences to the table that influence how we see reality.

Several examples of non-core theology:

  • Calvinism vs. Arminianism
  • Law vs. Grace
  • Age of the Earth — 6k years or billions.
  • The creation story – Six 24-hour periods or not.
  • End times — pre-mill, post-mill etc.
  • Abortion (most see it as wrong, but differ on the details)
  • Which major Bible translation to use

Those are a few examples, and there are many others. Many have no impact on one’s salvation which is core theology.

Photo by Richard Lee on Unsplash

Paul addresses this in Romans 14. In Bible times, pagans sacrificed animals to their gods and later sold that meat in the market. Some Christians thought it was wrong to eat that meat, while others ate it freely. He saw neither decision as wrong because the idol was not a real god. Paul did not force his views on others in this instance.

Instead of “correcting” the errant one, Paul’s approach was to accept the weaker brother. There was nothing in the entire chapter about trying to convince the “weaker brother” needed correction.

Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. 2 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand. Romans 14:1–4.

Debate or discussion

There’s nothing wrong with talking about “disputable matters.” It is the motive that matters. Are you trying to convince someone to see it your way? The focus instead should be mutual edification and searching for truth. It’s ok to have different opinions. It’s ok to not agree. It has been said that if you don’t understand your “opponent’s” point of view, you don’t understand your own.

Biblical Christians believe in absolute truth that comes from God. We believe the Bible is our ultimate authority on the matter of truth.

That sounds pretty simple, but it is not always easy to put into practice.

There are things the Bible is less than clear on. It can get very challenging when you try to discuss deep questions with seekers in the faith. Context is everything, and even the context has a context. We also bring our own biases to the text no matter how hard we try to avoid it.

There are “tensions” in the Bible. The idea of law vs. grace is a great example. The “law folks” claim the “grace folks” want a license to sin. The “grace folks” say the “law folks” are too rigid and are adding to the work of Christ. Both are true. We are not saved by obeying the law, but we are still supposed to obey what God says as His children.

Often it’s easier to default to one side, than it is to stay in that tension, between the two theological viewpoints.

In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, In All Things Charity.

There is nothing wrong with being firm in your convictions. Still, the New Testament is more about love than being “right.” There’s nothing wrong with being confident in our theology. We do need to be careful that our opinions do not damage our testimony in talking with seekers. 

The Bible speaks more about building each other up in Christ than about correcting your brother’s theology.

The bulk of Romans 14 is about accepting each other when we have conflicting views.

Romans 14:19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification.

Salvation – Eternal Life in Less Than 150 Words

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AuthorJames Jordan | BCWorldview.org 


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