Unity in Disagreement

1 Thessalonians 5:12-19 (NLT) – “Dear brothers and sisters, honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance. Show them great respect and wholehearted love because of their work. And live peacefully with each other. Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people. Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil."

I want to give a shout-out to Alisa Childers. I just listened to her podcast #19 with Holly Pivec and Michael Brown.

I was made aware of Michael Brown through friends of Shelli's, and was thoroughly impressed at his sound Biblical approach, specifically regarding his Jewish heritage and how Jesus is the fulfillment of all the prophecies in the Old Testament. As I listened to his podcast, I was surprised to learn that he embraced the charismatic traditions, especially considering how Biblically sound he was – being a Messianic Jew made sense to me, yet speaking in tongues in today’s world only fits into my understanding in the realm of frontier missions.

I was made aware of Alisa Childers through her calling out Progressive 'Christianity', as she was able to bring clarity to what I was in the thick of. I hadn't listened to her backlog of episodes, but knew I would get there in time.

Her recent episode #129 touched on the New Apostolic Reformation, without it being the focus, and other things started to click into place for me – especially regarding the Passion ‘Translation’.  And I flipped back to episode #16, which brought me to #19, and my present-day thoughts: 

My take-away, front and center -- this episode is everything I love about the Body of Christ.  Maybe it’s the counselor in me, but disagreements are not the problem. Defense of Christ and His Word are bound to bring about honest struggles over doctrine, and such a strong desire to be living out of His Spirit, together as the Bride of Christ. We are to love what He loves, to hate what He hates, and to work out what differences we can; even though it doesn’t always mean ease or agreement.

Alisa brought Godly people together, who love Christ yet disagree with each other. Michael stepped into the difficulty with grace, and Holly made every effort to honor truth. Both of them wanted to call out bad fruit and error – out of their love for the Lord. This was Ephesians 4:3 in motion: making every effort to keep united in the Spirit, while being bound together with peace.

Now, I found during this conversation that I didn't agree with Michael Brown as much as I expected to. There were places where I thought he needed to improve the awareness of his own biases. No big deal, all in all, as he offered more than enough grace and kindness as he brought serious challenges to Holly.

There were more than a couple places where I found Holly lacked skill in debating, but she stood by her assertions and backed them with examples, so mad props there. Both of them were abiding in the Spirit, allowing our Lord be front and center – and Alisa offered a beautiful space to do just that. 

I say all that to highlight where it all led me: Unity in the Spirit. And a willingness to confront sin, for the purpose of calling people back to the faith; back to the Body. There is a difference between sheep and goats; healthy cells and cancer. We are not to put up with shit in the name of Christ – there is true heresy coming from the pulpit.

* The Prosperity Gospel itself is a heresy of health, wealth and God-is-your-sugar-daddy. Some behind that pulpit are Joel Osteen, Kenneth Copeland, Robert Tilton, and up-until-recently Benny Hinn who has publicly repented.

* Progressive Christianity cuts the heart out of the Gospel, and Richard Rohr, William Paul Young, Brian McLaren, Glennon Doyle Melton, Rachel Hollis, and Rachel Held-Evans are very vocal advocates for do-whatever-you-want-in-the-name-of-Jesus.

** The question during this episode was focused on the New Apostolic Reformation where the concern is about unchecked power and influence in the name of the Spirit, through offices long-since retired.  Those who support this view come from the International House of Prayer in Kansas City and Bethel Redding:  Lou Engle, Bill Johnson, and Brian Simmons who wrote the Passion Translation.

There is a difference between false teachings and sinful behavior.  The former is taught as godly, while the latter is known as sinful.

We all know about the abuses that happen from individual people who occupy the pulpit, notably Mark Driscoll, and the pastor who is the subject of Alisa’s episode #129. Additionally there there are the personal failings of well-known people of faith that cut at the integrity of the Gospel as a result, as the names of Bill Hybels and Ravi Zacharias come quickly to mind. 

Individual people and whole denominations can be wrong and leave the faith, in the name of the faith – which should be the definition of heresy, if it's not already. We don’t expect non-Christians to be orthodox, yet even they can be, because the Law of God is written on all of our hearts. It’s all so easily confused. Heretics are not every person with a different perspective than us, and I’m not the only one in all of history to get everything right (insert chuckle here). 

We need personal humility and we need corporate worship. We need faith in the Word of God and reliance upon the Spirit of God to enlighten us. We need each other, and we discernment to strengthen each other. We need to rely on Christ as we enter those hard conversations, and we need to fall on the mercy of God always. 

If we are not stepping directly into the fray, if we aren't standing and abiding, then it is going to be hard to prove that we are His. He said it was a battle, and that we would suffer for being His. And when we perceive that something is grievously wrong, we need to walk right into those difficulties and ask questions – we are not to call down slurs from a distance in a blogging road-rage – rather, we are to build each other up. 

And if the answers don't jive with the Word, then we are to say so. It's not our fight, after all. It's His, so it's not personal to you or me. But we do need to recognize that it is personal to Him.  It's not about being 'right'; it's about being His. And he calls us to abide in Him, and we are to judge those who claim to be His. That requires wisdom, and He offers it in full measure to those who ask.

Final Thoughts:

Gavin Ortlund has a book out called, Finding the Right Hills to Die On: The Case for Theological Triage. I have it in the house somewhere; time to read it.

*Ephesians 4:15,16 (ESV) – “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”

* 1 Corinthians 5:12 (NLT) – “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?”

*Proverbs 4:7 (ESV) – “Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do! And whatever else you do, develop good judgment.” 

The conversation that Alisa facilitated was out of concern for cancer in the Body, and although it was not ruled out, they all kept going back to the Great Physician, confident in His Word.  Hallelujah!