Gracism and Bridging the Divide

Proverbs 6:16-19 says:

There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him;

haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.

Searching the Scriptures offers no alternative view; God hates division–division among believers is not of God. And yet, there are entire ministries built around proclaiming the rightness of their particular creed or theological distinctives over all other believing groups. Not heretical differences, mind you. Differences in man made constructs that they proclaim to the “the gospel” and that cause them to divide fellowship among believers based upon their need to defend these creeds to the death. One wonders why there is not as much time spent in this passage as there is defending Romans 9 or Acts 2.

Pastor Anderson continues his call to Gracism among believers by confronting us further with Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 12 where he uses the analogy of the body to describe the proper integration of the Church. Paul writes “God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.” As with the other sayings of the Gracist, Anderson simply gives us the simple call: No Division. No division based on ethnicity, race, socio-economic status, genders or ministries. None.

Praying together holds the keys to this and every other issue facing the Church. Anderson points us helpfully to three passages that guide our prayers in this new light. Each brings us humbly to the realization of our need for inclusiveness and togetherness. The first is the Lord’s Prayer in Mat 6:9-13 which begins Our Father. It identifies our familial relationships and the common bonds created by the Holy Spirit. No one with the Holy Spirit indwelling them stands alone or apart, we must all be as one. In John 17, Jesus’ lengthiest prayer, he prays that there might be unity among believers in the same degree to which there is unity among the Trinity. Finally, in an interesting perspective on the brief, intense prayers in Gethsemane before His crucifixion, Jesus maintains his unity of will for the Father’s purpose despite being divided in His human emotions about the upcoming agony that faced Him.

You and I must commit to standing with those who are not being included in the Body. We must commit to saying “I will stand with you.” This may mean that we sometimes take the hard road and Stand Up for people in order to stand with them. Our goal is not to simply protect them, though that may be necessary, but to lift them up and make them equal and better in our company. As David says “The principle is the smae. Stand up for the needy. Speak up for the voiceless. Rise up for those whose wings are clipped. Stand!”

2 thoughts on “Gracism and Bridging the Divide”

  1. Pastor Warren:
    You state that “there are entire ministries built around proclaiming the rightness of their particular creed or theological distinctives over all other believing groups.”

    Are you willing to give an example? Also, do you think it is appropriate for someone to proclaim their “doctrinal distinctives” when they belong to a particular denomination, etc.? Do you think this is necessarily wrong? Or only when they present “their position” as “THE Gospel”?

    As for myself, I am uncomfortable with Dispensationalists who refer to non-Dispensationalists as “Liberals” who “deny the literal teaching of the Scriptures”; Calvinists who declare that “Calvinism is the gospel”; and Arminians who maintain that Calvinists do not believe “For God so loved the world…” (e.g., that they deny the gospel). I have no problem, however, affirming the historic Christian creeds and declaring that anyone who denies them denies the Christian faith. I am also willing to stand for the doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone on account of Christ alone.

  2. Brother James – Always good to hear from you. I could provide many examples by name but I will be more cautious since I’v recently encountered the ire of an apologist whose personal reputation seemed to be more important than addressing an important theological question in which he was quoted. In reading your last paragraph, I find that we are of similar mind. I agree that we stand by our theological distinctives in essentials (Christ) while refusing to divide fellowship on non-essentials (women in ministry.)

    Many ministries have hijacked the word “Reformed” as applicable only to their form of Calvinism. Their proclamation, as you mentioned, that “Calvinism is the gospel” is often issued at the expense of any mention of Christ. The entire Wesleyian parts of the Body are dismissed by those who divide fellowship based on not being, in their eyes, “Reformed.”

    The Pentecostal traditions are often not much better. I have heard preaching that those who fail to demonstrate glossolalia should question their salvation since the Holy Spirit (Ghost) is obviously not in them.

    I am blessed by you brother. The pieces that I write here often lack the editing that I do (or others do for me) for a print piece. Your questions call me to support positions that I often have settled in my mind but not on paper.

    Peace to you and yours.

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