Scott Tibbs

Division, humility and unity in the Church

By Scott Tibbs, March 14, 2022

It is easy for us to gloss over Romans 14 because Christians today do not face the issue of eating meat offered to idols. But there is a reason that God preserved this text for us through the millennia, and every time we read Scripture we should be looking for how whatever we are reading applies to us. Therefore, the principle remains: Where do we judge each other today when Scripture is ambiguous and our choices are a matter of conscience?

One such place is boycotts of specific corporations. Christians regularly pressure each other on this issue, and in some cases push back. Remember the Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 5 that to not associate with wicked people would require us to go out of the world. But there may be good reasons to boycott a specific corporation or institution. Christians should have nothing to do with Planned Parenthood, for example. Making money from directly killing babies should be a disqualification.

Over the last six years, voting has been a source of division among Christians, especially voting for (or against) Donald Trump. There's no point in going through the endless arguments for or against Trump, as that is well-worn ground. But what we should do is understand our Christian brother's conscience may be different from ours, and we can disagree without being judgmental of his motivations. Trump will almost certainly be running again in 2024, and this is where Christians can succeed in being unified where we badly failed in 2016 and 2020.

Of course, the area where the church has failed most over the last two years is pandemic mitigation policy, with one side accusing the other of "statist idolatry" while the other side goes so far as to label dissenters as "murderers." If the online COVID warriors were all in a room hurling invective at each other, what would Jesus say if He walked into that room to see how people are behaving toward each other?

The fact that there are areas where we must follow our conscience and respect others' disagreements in love does not and should never be an excuse to jettison objective truth or allow room for heresy in areas where Biblical doctrine is clear. And the fact that Scripture is ambiguous in certain areas does not mean there is not a right or wrong answer. But we should cultivate humility and tolerance, refusing to fight and divide where there are people with different opinions. A healthy church may well have a wide variety of practices among its members, and yet still be unified on the fundamentals of the Christian faith and uncompromising on essential doctrine.

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