Dealing with Controversy (Part 1)

There’s a lot of weird stuff going around these days. Beliefs affected by wrongly handling the Word of God, practices established over opinions instead of Scripture, human viewpoints being preached as the ultimate authority. I’m sure you can think of at least one example, in almost any area of life, of some erroneous doctrine or opinion that is being proclaimed as the “only way” to live or to be a “good Christian.”

Some that immediately come to my mind are the KJV Only controversy, the question of using CCM or pop-music styles in church worship, the use of special effects to “aid” the worship experience, the question of so-called social drinking, the rejection of all medicine in favor of holistic remedies, the question of whether spanking children is helpful or harmful….

Mankind’s opinions abound in every area of our lives. But there is really only one opinion that matters. There is only one opinion that has true and ultimate authority, an attribute defined as:

the power to determine,
adjudicate, or otherwise settle issues or disputes; jurisdiction;
the right to control, command, or determine

Of course, only the one true God has that power and that right. His Word is the ultimate, the final say-so, the end of the line. What He says, goes. What He decrees must be obeyed. What He promises must be believed.

So then why is there so much squabbling within the body of Christ? Why is there so much tension, if we have the very words of our Authority recorded for all time? Why are there so many factions and divisions being made all the time over these differences of opinion?

First of all, I submit that we do not study the Scriptures as we ought. We are people of opinions, not people of the Book. Consider the example of the Bereans, to whom Paul and Silas were sent for protection. The Gospel of Jesus Christ, of His death and resurrection and His saving power, was new to them. But they did not just take Paul’s words and discuss it among themselves, debating its merits and its credibility. No, rather, we are told that “they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11).

When those Berean believers heard something knew, they studied what they knew to be the final authority on all things: the Scriptures. They checked everything against the Word; as it says, they examined the Scriptures daily. Do we do the same, whenever we come across a new opinion or a different viewpoint? Or do we look to man’s wisdom and what “makes sense” in our minds?

Second, we fail to accurately handle the Word of God. Of course, we must fail at this if we do not first study the Word. But even when we do study, do we take it and interpret it according to our own instincts, our own “common sense” or the way we’ve always heard it? Or do we take the time and effort to truly study it out?

Do you own a study Bible, a commentary, a basic theology book? These are invaluable resources for learning the basic doctrines of our faith! Yes, they are written by men; but these men have had much more education and experience then you or I. Sure, I took five semesters of Greek in college, but that doesn’t make me an expert. Yes, I have studied and read theology for hours upon end, but that doesn’t mean I have all the answers. I need these higher resources to help me accurately understand God’s Word.

Remember Paul’s admonition to Timothy, when he told him to “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

Read “Dealing with Controversy, Part 2”

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5 thoughts on “Dealing with Controversy (Part 1)

  1. […] we looked at how to deal with controversies that arise within the body of Christ. We saw the need to study out Scripture for ourselves, and the […]

    1. I’m wondering a little about the reference to “the rejection of all medicine in favor of holistic remedies.” I’ve gotten into lively discussions with others, because the more I learn, the less I feel that I need prescription medicine. I love the idea of having herbalists because while they can’t cure everything, I don’t think that herbs will “interact” or cause many side effects. I think it’s extremely rare for them to kill you.
      I definitely agree that we need doctors for surgery–there are times when nothing else works. A woman needs a C-section; someone has an incurable infection in a toe and needs to have it removed (or, perish the thought, a leg). However, I think that sometimes as we learn more, we can prevent some of these tragedies with better lifestyles.
      Medicine also implies drugs, at least for me and maybe for many people. And since so many can be mind-altering, I think more of us have become uncomfortable with them if there is any other way.
      Finally, the insurance crises have probably pushed people to look into alternatives because sometimes they just feel they can’t handle one more bill.
      Anyway, I’ve heard about people who “don’t go to doctors” and so on, but I don’t know if I’ve ever met someone who actually practiced that. I wonder if views like mine are ever exaggerated, or if we just don’t present them well?

  2. P.S. I do agree that we need to search what is in God’s Word, and so often we do not do that! However, there are issues that God’s Word simply does not speak to (i.e., NON abortive birth control–which is a post in itself), and that makes for lively and sometimes loud discussion. I think people can both be mature Christians and still vehemently disagree on some points, because they aren’t really biblical issues. They just have to still keep Christ at the center.

    1. I don’t have anything against holistic medicine, in general.

      But I hate seeing people who go all out with that, to the detriment of their bodies. For example, I have a chronic illness that is fatal without medicine. As much as I love the idea of treating it with herbs & holistic methods, nobody has figured out treatments that work. So I have to rely on prescription drugs to keep me alive.

      I think people also need to realize that what’s good for them might not be the best for someone else. Like I said in the first paragraph – it’s when it’s proclaimed as the “only” or “best” way for EVERYONE to live, that it starts causing division and strife. Yet God tells us to live peaceably with all men, if at all possible.

      No problems with simply disagreeing about things (that are not clear in Scripture), although I shy away from arguing for the sake of arguing (ie, “loud” discussion). 🙂

      Like you said, it all comes down to keeping Christ at the center. Of everything.

  3. Yes, I think sometimes I can be of help with something that has worked for *me,* but I don’t presume to know everyone else’s physical condition or situation. I think there’s an important difference. I think it’s hard for people to stay calm about because so often it really IS a matter of life and death–it’s just guesswork as to which way is truly, truly right.

    It is tricky because sometimes people do gain information that not everyone has (or accepts); I believe that as with any business, you have to double and triple check because no one else has purely *your* best interest at heart as much. But there’s a fine line because the decisions are so personal that it’s easy for people to get upset.

    But for people to just say “Don’t take ____” when they know of no alternative is useless, and it shows that they haven’t had a chance to look into *your* situation. There are cases (again, I am not familiar with yours) where I will ask people to please be careful and do some extra research; however, I do not presume to give medical advice. Often it becomes clear when people do their own reading.

    Thanks for the response!

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