Dialogue, not Debate

As Christians, we need to step back and let the Spirit of God work.

by Susan Irene Fox

In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? John 14:2

With about 40 major divisions of belief in Christianity (according to Wikipedia), and about 40,000 denominations within those, how do Christians ever hope to agree on the definition of Christianity – and God’s purpose for us here on earth?

OM has graciously agreed to allow me his space on Harsh Reality to ruminate about this over the next couple of weeks. For those of you who are not Christians, or who may be and don’t call yourselves such, I ask you to bear with me. There may be food for thought here for you as well. Or certainly an opinion or two you may want to share.

We as Christians have argued about theology since the Jerusalem Council. We continue to have debates and disagreements about tenets and dogma and doxology. Some of that disagreement is commendable. You cannot worship a God you do not know, or serve a God when you do not know what He requires.

However…how long is your list of non-negotiable items? Does your list fit what Scripture actually says? Have you taken the time to look for yourself? Are you standing outside the box inside which you have put God? Have you puffed yourself up to be bigger than the God who created you?

“I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me that there is quarreling among you. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Peter,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” 1 Corinthians 1:10-13

Are the debatable nuances of your theology truly important enough that they are applicationally relevant to the lives we are called to lead?

When we show ourselves to be mean-spirited and accusatory, closed-minded and judgmental, arrogant and divisive, do we attract people to God? Do we illustrate the love and humility of Jesus?  Do we reveal the Holy Spirit at work in our lives? The best way to evangelize is to create a deep desire in others that the Creator and Christ are real.

“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” John 17:17-18, 20-21

Our call is not to convert people – it is to make disciples. And for most people, discipleship is not a snap decision; it’s lifelong process. We need dialogue, not debate. We need to plant seeds of love and let God harvest the hearts of others.

I’ll end on a note for us all – a quote from the apostle Peter, who Jesus called his rock, and who became the leader of the church in Rome – in effect, the first pope.

“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil with evil or insult for insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit God’s blessing.” (1 Peter 3:8-9)

This post can also be found at www.susanirenefox.com

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About Susan Irene Fox

Jesus follower, peacemaker, unfinished human. Body: over 60; Reborn: August, 2006. Writing devotional workbooks for new believers. Dedicated to using God's grace and unconditional love to bring people into God's embrace.

Posted on January 23, 2014, in On Christianity and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I hope I didn’t offend you by adding a featured image to this post.

  2. Thank you for your wonderful post. I agree, there are too many splits among “denominations”. To many people put to much emphasis in Baptists, Pentecostal, Methodists etc… and not enough emphasis on Jesus Christ. I have close friends and even a sister church where we do not agree on everything but that does not stop us from fellowship, work together, and help others see the Creator and Savior is real. What is important is that we agree on the nonnegotiables. Early in my ministry, I had a long list of those, now my list has shrunk as I studied scripture and prayed. What is my nonnegotiable? John 14:6, Romans 10:9-10 to name a couple. In short my nonnegotiable is the Gospel of Christ. Jesus is the only one who can save, not doctrine on whether one can lose salvation etc… . Certainly, I enjoy discussion on doctrine, but it can not cast Jesus into the shadows.

    Thank you again and God bless.
    Great read!

    • Pastor Rob, you are so right, and it should not stop of from any of that. Excellent point about your nonnegotiables! Please accept my apologies for this late response. I’m just getting used to this co-authorship thing and I’m technology challenged. :-/

  3. A most insightful piece, Susan. There is far too much division in the Church over issues on the level of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. We need to be united, not divided. We need to speak a language of love and acceptance even of those who we disagree with. I still think though that Christians need to keep their own identity and not be apologetic for their faith. Yet, we must also respect people of other faiths or beliefs, and not say we have the only answer.

    A really well-known preacher says,” When we all get to Heaven I think God’s gonna say, “You ALL got it wrong… but I talked to my Son about you, and HE says you’re okay, so come on in.”

    If you oranyone knows who that quote comes from, please let me know. It’s one Karen loves to quote, but she’s not sure who it comes from.

    Kevin

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