Why Are There So Many Churches Teaching Differently?
by Tony Warren
It's a Good Question! But the answer is not as complicated as some would have us believe. Allow me to re-phrase the answer. The reason we have so many people who call themselves Christian, and yet hold to so many different views of scripture, is primarily because everyone who says that they are a Christian, aren't Christians! That's the simple truth of the matter. It is not because God hasn't provided us with everything we need to know in order to make a decision on what is right, or because it cannot be understood by us.
2nd Timothy 3:15-17
- "And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
- All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
- That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works."
So it's not that we are not furnished thoroughly enough to make a correct determination what is true, the division is because of the will of man, not the will of God. Mind you, I'm not saying that Christians never disagree. Of course they do. But the word Christian today is used to describe everyone from Homosexuals to Moonies, to the KKK, and everything in between. And that is the main reason for this perceived great gulf of division. i.e., anyone can argue that they are Christian, and thus Christianity divided.
We should be aware that taking the name of Christ does not make one a Christian. Those who burned people at the stake claimed that they were Christian, but does that mean that they actually were? Not at all. For a Christian is prescribed by their wearing of the spiritual cloth. i.e., Christianity consists of more than an individual merely saying they are Christian. It's a way of life which is pervasive and prescribed by The Word of God, not simply a label one takes hold of.
- "And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach".
A true Christian eats the bread which is the Word of God (matt. 4:4), not their own bread, they wear the cloth which is the righteousness of Christ (Isa. 61:10), not their own apparel. Just being called by His name will never take away the reproach of anyone. And this is how many calling themselves Christian in our day have deceived themselves. For they have not considered the most fundamental of Biblical principles. A tree is known by it's fruits.
- "For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.
- A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
- And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?"
Doctrines can vary widely from Church to Church in the same denomination, so it's not necessarily a denominational problem. It's more of a doctrinal problem. For man is vain and sinful by nature. Therefore his very nature is to desire that his desires be perceived as Godly, and that his beliefs not be shown to be wrong. It is this desire, rather than a desire to get it right that is at the root of false doctrines. In other words, his Church tradition, what he has been taught, ego, pride and vanity play a major role in this. And let us not discount simple unrighteousness where he just refuses to "receive" what is written.
Yes, in a perfect world, all true Christians after discussing, and comparing scriptures together for a while, would sooner or later have to come to the truth of it. Because they (presumably) all accept every verse of scripture as true, and none to be ignored. And so comparing scripture with scripture, they would soon reconcile all of them to come to the proper understanding. But in reality this is not a perfect world and we still dwell in the body of this flesh. Therefore do men's own bias work against them in their consideration of scripture. It is only God who can intervene and direct our steps that we walk the correct paths.
- "A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps."
Unfortunately, some Christians (and those who simply call themselves Christians) aren't really as interested in coming to real truth as they are in attempting to find a verse that might appear to support a view that they already hold. And so finding one, they will merely present it saying "..See, you are wrong". Then, feeling justified in themselves, they will proceed to ignore any verse you present relegating it to being insignificant to the discussion. This is the ego and pride of man, not the humbleness/meekness that scripture speaks about. We all have it to some degree, but wisdom is in recognizing it and bringing it into submission. The Spirit is willing, yet the flesh is weak.
Let me give you a practical example. There are verses in scripture which "seem" to indicate that we are saved by works. There are Theologians who read those verses, come to this conclusion, and then stick to it like it was their security blanket. No verse that you present to them which qualifies the verse will change their mind. ..Why not? Because they become indoctrinated! So when you say, "what about this verse, or that verse," they will completely ignore or trample upon the verse given, and retort saying something like, "you've misinterpreted the verse" (even though you quoted it word for word), or they'll redirect the subject saying, "No, what about this other verse?" In other words, they won't reconcile all the verses honestly to come to truth, they'll completely ignore or dismiss the ones which show their doctrine in error, and will present another one they think supports their view. It then is become a battle of futility or a test of "who can give most verses without really answering the questions", contest! It has deteriorated into a contest of theological egos, not a search for the truth.
Some refer to this tactic as presenting "dueling scriptures". But truth is, scriptures do not duel with each other. Men do. Therefore do these men war with themselves. No scripture passage contradicts another, and so all scriptures must first be recognized as true, and then reconciled with all others. We understanding that in such situations as seeming contradictions, one scripture must qualify another. For example when Satan tried Christ in the desert saying:
- "And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone."
The scripture satan presented was true (all scripture is). But he deceitfully used it "as if" it was an island which stood alone. many Theologians use that exact same tactic today. Satan was taking the scripture out of context and without considering that other scriptures "qualified" the scripture which said that. And what was Christ's response? It wasn't to say, "You're right my scripture contradicts yours so we don't know what is true!" Jesus replied:
- "...It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."
In other words, there is more to it than that verse Satan referenced. Jesus says, look also at this scripture where we are not to tempt the Lord Our God. i.e., One scripture qualifies another. They both must be reconciled in order to get to the real meat of the matter. The unfaithful of the Churches will never do this because they don't want to change their Church tradition. Therefore are these different views held even in the light of scriptures which the more noble will read and adjust their doctrines thereby.
On the Other hand, the Faithful steward or caretaker of scripture, when presented with God's witness which does not support his view will not ignore it, but will receive it as truth (after all, it too is God's Word), and will reconcile it with the scripture he has. Because he starts out with the most basic of fundamental biblical hermeneutics. He agrees both are true and he studies them to see if it is true what was witnessed. In the case of Salvation by works, he would agree:
- YES, the Bible says, he that does not Keep the Word of God will not be Saved. That's true, But it "also" says that by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. So then, it cannot mean that you can keep the law in working for your Salvation, rather careful consideration of all relevant scriptures indicates works are the evidence of your salvation, so that anyone without this evidence, cannot be Saved. And then he would present testimony to the scripture which proves that.
You see the difference between the faithful steward of God that receives scripture with all readiness of mind, and the unfaithful who merely rejects verses which contradicts him? One agrees both scriptures are true, and reconciles them together with scripture following. The other simply ignores or wrests the passage given (as if it doesn't exist or is insignificant), and throws you another verse "as if" that negates your witness to the first. That's not a search for truth, that is a search for self justification. That's an example of a lack of nobility or integrity to consider all scriptures honestly. God gives us the perfect example of this Christian nobility in the Bereans.
- "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
- Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few".
This is the integrity or nobleness of true Christianity. An honesty where when they heard these teachings which were different, they didn't dig up scriptures to try and make Paul's witness to God's Word a lie. Rather they with an open mind searched the scriptures Paul bore witness of, to see if what He said was true. Not many Churches today do this.
2nd Corinthians 4:2
- "But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God."
The hidden things of dishonesty. The exact opposite of the bereans who were noble (honest) in their integrity to handle the Word of God not deceitfully following the jewish traditions, but honestly. This is what is sorely lacking in the Churches today. Honesty in dealing with scriptures that our Church tradition doesn't cloud the mind or blind the eye. The Bereans knew something which the Churches today has forgotten. That all scriptures must be received with all readiness of mind (an open mind), taken in context, and reconciled with all other scriptures that speak on the subject. The faithful Church does this and this is how he knows that what is being taught is the truth, or is error. Therefore, he is assured that the bible says all these things and he cannot be deceived by false gospels. He tries the spirits by the Word of God.
In theory, all faithful Christians should "in time" come to the truth of scripture, but in reality we are flesh, and as such we sometimes sin in thought as well as deed. To the Glory of God, many of us do recognize our sin and turn away from traditional things to what is actually written. But we must not be high minded but realize that even this is by the Grace of God, and we can take no credit for it.
Sadly, many have grown comfortable in their error and consider anyone bringing scriptures which contradict their teachings as "attacking them". They are uncomfortable with scriptures which prove their Church wrong. For all their speaking about the errors of the catholics concerning tradition, many Protestants are clinging to that exact form of tradition in holding to their denominational teachings over the Biblical mandates. Nevertheless, the Spirit works mightily in many to overcome this Church error.
We can be sure of one thing, scripture tells us that the Lord resisteth the proud, but giveth Grace to the humble. The ability to ignore scriptures in order to hold onto doctrines is the root of pride. It's not our job to condemn them. In Love, we can but pray that many will come out of false teachings and receive the truth of the Word. We can but witness to that truth, and ask that the Lord would reveal it to them. Let us not forget the power of Prayer.
- "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man, availeth much."
Our prayers are carried to God as a sweet savor because Christ is the burnt offering! In truth He is the righteous man who takes our prayers before God perfectly. And let us not be puffed up or proud in our understanding, knowing full well that it is only by the Grace of God that any of us know what we do! But also knowing full well that the Church both can and must discern truth of doctrines. there is no grey area. There is no lukewarm. There is Black and white, hot and cold. Scripture is not wishy-washy.
Our job is to bear faithful witness to the truth, and God will show the increase. Judge not, but do not shy away from correcting with scripture that others may come to know the truth of what is written. God's word is not our enemy, unless we fight against it. Many do, and that is the primary reason we have so many different doctrines. Denominations are not the end all in salvation! Salvation is a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. When we truly have it, we will be guided into the truth of the Word. As 2nd Timothy 2:15 says, we must study to show ourselves approved unto God, workmen who need not be ashamed. Which of course means that those who don't, may very well have need to be ashamed. For though the Holy Spirit teaches, it is through the scriptures that it teaches, and without the study thereof, we will hold any old doctrine.
1st John 2:27-28
- "But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.
- And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming."
We can know and must abide in these teachings. But the fact is, few there are who travel the narrow way, and many there be that travel the wide road. As it was in Israel that there was a remnant, so there is a remnant in the Church today. A faithful remnant out of the whole. In this time of falling from the faith, we shouldn't be surprised that there are so many different teachings, so much running to and fro, so much deceitful handling of the Word of God by individual Churches. Even within relatively faithful denominations Churches are falling away in droves. But the Church is not a denomination. It is a chosen "called out" of many nations unto service to the Lord. To be sure, God knows who are His. There being many denominations doesn't mean no one has the truth, it means the truth is not subject to denominations. Is Christ divided? No, and neither is His Church. That's the key words. His Church!
Copyright 1998 Tony Warren
For other studies free for the Receiving, Visit our web Site
The Mountain Retreat! http://members.aol.com/twarren10/