Lou Tenant writes articles with a focus on mysteries and unexplained phenomen in the search for the truth. Thanks for reading this!
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.
Lou Tenant (author) from Somewhere in America on January 25, 2020:
Hi Mark, thanks for your comment! Your input is always appreciated!
Mark Richardson from Utah on January 25, 2020:
Denominations are fascinating to me. It is best to focus on common beliefs.
I like your point about convictions and preferences.
It can be fun to theorize on the deeper things, but many can disagree in this area.
I agree on not vilifying. I have engaged with some who disagree and it can get very contentious.
One thing to consider is that everyone is different. Some are more logical and love facts. Others are not factual and rely more on faith.
Excellent article and conclusion.
Lou Tenant (author) from Somewhere in America on January 11, 2020:
Hi Jack, nice to see you here again!
Lou Tenant (author) from Somewhere in America on January 11, 2020:
Hi Jay, you’re absolutely correct.
Jack Jenn from Nelson Bay NSW Australia. on January 11, 2020:
No problem with me on that score.
Jay O'Brien on January 11, 2020:
May I suggest that everyone can agree that God is Good, Always Good, and Never Evil? I believe Evil has been defined as being: Jealous, Vengeful or Wrathful. All stories depicting God (The Lord) as being Evil are Blasphame.
What do you think?
Jack Jenn from Nelson Bay NSW Australia. on January 09, 2020:
I see you're still at it Charlie, at your age you really should know better.
MODIFY YOUR APPROACH Charlie.
Not everyone agrees with your particular stance - in some things you are right - in many others you are dead wrong, as I have had other past experiences with you to know your tactics, which is, believe only what I tell you.
Lou's article wasn't derogatory in any way, he was merely stating a point of view which he has every right to do - as do you but your criticism is unwaranted and is why I will say again - at your age you really should know better.
And because of your age you'll get to find out sooner than others.
Is that caustic enough for you.
charlie from From Kingdom of God living on Planet earth in between the oceans on January 09, 2020:
apparently you only read my first line
Lou Tenant (author) from Somewhere in America on January 08, 2020:
Hi Charlie, I must admit I’m a bit confused by your reply. In this article I’m not promoting any false doctrines. In fact, I did not write this article to promote any doctrines.
I would suggest you reread this and try to understand the point I was getting at, because it is evident you do not.
In fact, your first statement - “nice job of promoting false church doctrines”, is an example of why I wrote point #2.
If you disagree with me about this article, that is fine. But give me an actual reason why. The second paragraph of your comment doesn’t seem to pertain to anything I wrote about in this article.
charlie from From Kingdom of God living on Planet earth in between the oceans on January 08, 2020:
nice job of promoting false church doctrines of man that do not know God.
Jesus Christ says that to be HIS DISCIPLE you must become of ONE SPIRIT with Him and God. The liars and thieves that make the doctrines of the false church system are actually apostles of satan, the head of their church system. There is no such thing as a christian, the only people that Christ recognizes as His are are Disciples of Christ and no clergy or money exists in HIS CHURCH. This is Jesus Command and the only way one can enter the eternal kingdom of God. All others are fakes, liars, thieves and many more worse thngs according to CHRIST, the Lord ofthis age