Calvinism. Arminianism. Egalitarianism. Tongues. The Sabbath “Day”. Old Earth. Politics. Evolution. Alcohol. Worship Styles. The Color of the Sanctuary Carpet.
I could go on. There’s an infinite list of things we can disagree on. Especially for Christians. And it’s okay to disagree. We’re opinionated creatures. Disagreeing is not the issue; it’s how we disagree. We have to remember as evangelicals that people are always watching us. 2 Corinthians 5:10 says, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” We are God’s representatives, and we are to represent Him with excellence.
Be mindful. There definitely ARE those things we should always fight for. There are topics where the opposing person should be rebuked if they proclaim to be a follower of Jesus Christ. If someone comes up to you with an argument that Jesus was without divinity, that is wrong. And that will always be wrong. And that person needs to evaluate their salvation.
BUT, things like the topics I wrote up top are different. There are topics in Scripture that are gray. By gray, I mean that they are not revealed to us fully. Listen to me carefully. I do not mean that these topics are not important. If they were meaningless, Scripture would not allude to them or reveal truths about them. But, these pieces of Scripture are not vital to someone’s salvation. We have different Christian denominations because we differ on our translation of certain passages, but they are still believers. I believe that Pentecostals, Methodists, Assembly of God members, etc. will be joining us in Heaven as long as they hold to the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Most disagreements these days takes place by one means: Facebook. It may seem silly to write about how to disagree with one another on social media, but this website has become a powerful tool for ministers. We’re on Facebook now more than we are with people face to face. When treated correctly, social media can be used for more good than we could have ever imagined. But, when abused, can be a breeding ground for corruption and distortion.
The other day a friend from seminary posted a blog that I don’t agree with. I enjoy dialoguing, and I assumed she was looking for feedback. So, I stated my response as tactfully (hopefully) as I could, and she responded well. Most people did. But there were one or two people where you could sense the condescension and pursed lips behind their computer. And this point that she held isn’t even one that would, at all, impact someone’s salvation. I just didn’t get it. I encourage you to read her article. It’s on her disagreement and “breakup” with complementarian theology. I may disagree with her point, but only after doing my own research. We should always be reading views that are different from our own (or that we don’t hold a position on) so that it encourages us to do our own research. Here’s the link to her blog:
So, what does Scripture say about how we should disagree with one another?
- Hold your tongue if your position is not defined.
- Romans 14:5 says, “One person considers one day to be above another day. Someone else considers every day to be the same. Each one must be fully convinced in his own mind.”
- We all know those people. Those people that insert their disagreement without any support to their position. We call those people “pot stirrers.” Pot stirrers want to be included without actually dropping any ingredients into the recipe. If you are this person, stop. Just stop. You are doing more harm to the kingdom of God than good. When people who are not believers, or have chips on their shoulder about the Church, witness you stating your opinion without any backup, it makes you look uneducated and rude. If you are going to participate in some sort of conversation, make sure you have researched Scripture first. And remember, it’s okay to say “I don’t know.”
- State your position in a way that glorifies God and builds the other person up.
- If the first thing you say/write is “you’re wrong” or “why would you think this” or holds some sarcastic tone, then the conversation is going south before it even has a chance. I’ve had to learn that when I disagree with someone, I’m disagreeing with their point, not their heart. If they have a heart for God, then why am I to be condescending to them? And, again this blog is just for believers disagreeing with other believers about third-tier issues.
- Even though that’s the main focus of this blog, I have had the pleasure of watching debates/conversations that are peaceful throughout when it IS a matter of salvation. I’ve watched believers debate with non believers. Nobody called each other names. Nobody was condescending or judgmental. But they definitely were intentional and prepared. I encourage you to watch the Greer Heard Point-Counterpoint Forum at NOBTS. If you can’t attend, I’m pretty sure they live stream it. But this Forum consists of a believer and non believer, both educated in their fields, kindly and passionately stating their positions to each other.
- Remember that at the end of the day our goal is righteousness and unity.
- Later in Romans 14 Paul says, “Therefore, do not let your good be slandered, for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace, joy, and the Holy Spirit. (16-17).” This point has definitely been hammered home, but it’s well worth saying over and over. Third-tier issues are not our goal as Christians. Our goal as believers is not to argue to death over if tongues is the only revelation of the Holy Spirit, if it took God a literal six days to create the world, or who Christians should vote for. Our ultimate goal, according to the Great Command of Jesus is to WIN SOULS. We are to make disciples. We are to show the people of this world that Jesus took on the most horrible form of punishment and conquered death to have a relationship with them! And to do that we have to be a united front. We can’t cut each other down over things that don’t matter. Instead we need to build each other up to make the body stronger.
And what does this have to do with discipleship? Well, everything.
Whoever you mentor/disciple will most likely not agree with everything you say. We all have different opinions and different ways of thinking. The important thing as disciple makers is to teach people to search Scripture for themselves. To always have an open heart and to study God’s word free from presuppositions. To teach them to have open and kind conversations while never losing their passion. Only then will we be making a difference.
One loving disagreement at a time.