It’s Okay For Christians To Disagree
Having attended a Baptist school, I can frankly tell you that there does exist “beef” among denominations. Baptists generally don’t like Methodists and Catholics. Catholics generally don’t like Protestants, and vice versa. I‘ve been to a church that doesn’t like Baptists, Methodists, Catholics, and every other denomination in existence. It seems like today’s Christians are divided, and this is a problem.
When you research the differences between certain denominations, you can tell that sometimes the differences are very minute. Most denominations agree on the same main tenets. Yet there is still a huge divide between Christians.
So this article will explain why this divide isn’t really necessary, and how all Christians should seek to fix this.
Convictions vs. Preferences
Before we start, we must define two important terms:
- Convictions- These are beliefs in which there can be no compromise. An example would be the belief that Jesus paid for our sins by dying on the cross and rising again the third day. If you are going to be a Christian, you have to believe this. Usually, a conviction is something you would be willing to die for.
- Preference- These are beliefs in which there can be compromise. An example of this would be the subject of alcohol. The Bible warns of the danger of alcohol, but it never forbids the consumption of it. It’s a matter of personal preference. If two Christians have different preferences regarding alcohol, that’s OKAY. There is no need for them to fight over this.
When we look at the some of the reasons why Christians are divided today, we find that a lot of the time it’s over preferences, and not convictions. There is no need for this division. So how can we prevent this?
1. Realize you don’t know everything
No person, no matter how much they know or how educated they are, knows everything. And it’s foolish to believe that you are right on every single theological point. When Christians engage in discussion or debate over certain topics, they should remember that there is a possibility that they may be wrong.
Part of this is about letting go of your pride/ego. You don’t have to be right about everything. Keep an open mind and consider all possibilities.
2. Don’t vilify those who disagree with you.
I have seen many conversations that go like this. Consider two hypothetical people- one named Bob and the other named Tom.
Bob says, “I believe that the Bible says the Rapture will happen before the Tribulation.”
Tom says, “If you actually wanted to know the truth, you would know that the Rapture happens after the Tribulation. You need to stop spreading lies. The Bible CLEARLY SUPPORTS a post-Trib view. People like you are just trying to intentionally deceive other people, and God’s going to make you give an account of why you believed such things.”
The problem with Tom is that he vilifies Bob’s beliefs simply because they disagree.
Christians need to stop thinking that people who disagree with them MUST either be misguided, ignorant, or willfully deceptive. Stop telling people who disagree with you that they aren‘t actually Christians or that they aren’t genuinely searching for the truth. Instead, make an actual countrrargument in a respectful way.
Realize that on many issues, there can be genuine Christians on BOTH sides. Don’t act like God or the truth is always on your side.
3. It’s Not A Competition
When Christians debate topics, it should be in a way that is consistent with what the Bible teaches. When we witness to nonchristians or go out to evangelize people, we do it out of love. We don’t do it to say “I’m right, you’re wrong.” And it should be the same when Christians of different denominations interact. It’s not a competition. It isn’t about trying to show why your denomination is “better” than someone else‘s.
Too often Christians will separate from another instead of hearing each other out. Listening to something different than what you think is a good thing. There’s a reason why people like the President has advisors. It’s because hearing different options helps everyone to consider all possibilities. And that’s an integral step in the search for the truth.
4. Don’t attach Labels to Beliefs
“I don‘t believe that I should drink.”
Oh you must be a Baptist.
”I think the sacrament of confirmation is nice.”
Oh you must be a Catholic.
“I believe that God still gives people the gift of tongues.”
Oh you must be a Pentecostal.
The problems with all of the above statements is that they attach labels or connotations to beliefs. It does not matter what beliefs mainly belong to a denomination. Each claim should be evaluated on the basis of its evidence and merit. If you disagree with a view that your denomination has because you think the evidence supports a different view, that’s fine. If you believe a view held by a different denomination than the one you belong in, that’s also fine. A belief is either true or false; it does not matter who espouses it, only whether it has sufficient evidence to support it.
5. You can Disagree without Compromising, but don’t Compromise on Christianity’s Main Tenets
And this is my last point. I’m not a member of any particular denomimation. But I’m willing to talk to Christians of all denominations. I don‘t make judgements about people based on the denominations to which they belong.
I have friends who I disagree with on certain things. But I’m still friends with them. We can all be unified in Christ. There‘s no need for us to split up and go and form our own denominations based on small differences. Accepting people as Christians who have different convictions than us IS compromise, and we should never compromise the central tenets of Christianity to appease anyone. But we can disagree on our preferences.
When we let the Church become fractured over preferences, we have already let the enemy win. “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” The Body of Christ needs to be unified, especially as we all live in increasingly dangerous times.