1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
William Barclay The Letters to the Phillipians, Colossians, and Thessalonians. Rev. ed., [Louisville, KY.: Westminster, 1975], 31
…the one danger which threatened the Philippian church was that of disunity. There is a sense in which that is the danger of every healthy church. It is when people are really in earnest, when their beliefs really matter to them, that they are apt to get up against each other. The greater their enthusiasm, the greater the danger that they may collide. It is against that danger Paul wished to safeguard his friends.”
John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Philippians. [Chicago, IL.: Moody Press, 2001], 101
Paul’s concern here is not about doctrines, ideas, or practices that are clearly unbiblical. It is about interpretations, standards, interests, preferences, and the like that are largely matters of personal choice. Such issues should never be allowed to foment controversy within the body of Christ.”
All three of these passages build upon each other. From the message of God through Paul to the church at Philippi, to the venerable William Barclay to the modern day theologian, John MacArthur, we are warned to not allow the minor to become issues of major division. I would offer caution to my friends who blog (on both sides of this methodological divide) that we move away from the division that many of us are engaging in. I’ve found myself as guilty as anybody else sectioning off sides and hoping for the worst for those who disagree with me. Let’s hope that this sense of “rightness” over non-essential issues can be put down in favor of unity and pursuit of gospel growth. Let us not be the figures which history looks back on as the mice that chewed through the foundation of faith that our convention rests upon. We need each other and to go into San Antonio looking to divide, even for the sake of denominational clarity, is simply not worth it, in my opinion, and I believe God and His word echoes that belief.
If we stubbornly pursue theological “rightness” in areas which simply are not that important at the expense of our ability to “do” ministry; if we insist on getting our way to the detriment of brothers and sisters in Christ who are effectively communicating the message of Christ around the world; if we move in this direction at all, we will simply find ourselves clinging with abandon to the mast of the ship while it sinks and we drown with it. If, however, we recognize our need for humility and we put down our swords in favor of taking up our hands to do the work of the ministry we will find ourselves caught up in the work of God and watching together the growth of the kingdom of God. That, in my opinion, is worth working towards.
That is what I am hoping for in San Antonio. Unfortunately, my hope is not very strong.