Below is the Bible reading I am doing for the West Side Church. Please feel free to follow along.
Today’s reading (Acts 23) shows one of the core problems with the Sanhedrin during the 1st century. In vs. eight we learn that the ruling body of the Jews is divided among itself. We learn … "The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angles nor spirits, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all.” What separated these two groups was a very sharp disagreement over doctrine. In that day this was one of the main dividing lines between the Jews. It was a dividing line Paul knew he could exploit, and when he did it developed into a mighty war.
Before I go on I want to make a disclaimer: I feel doctrine is very important. I believe it is something we should teach. I believe it is something we should discuss and make sure we are following closely.
Now that my disclaimer is out of the way I want to say this. Disagreements over doctrine should not become test of fellowship. While we must strive to have pure doctrine, and correct doctrine, I believe fellowship shouldn’t halt just because we disagree. If we threw out every argument, every book, every article that sided for a doctrine we disagree with, then our knowledge and growth would be pretty slim.
I have seen some circles draw the doctrine lines as a test of fellowship. On this I would say they are wrong. I have seen other circles that haven’t worried about doctrine at all. On this I would say they are wrong. We must strike a healthy balance. In my Restoration Movement class we learned that one of the shibboleths of the movement was this: We are not the only Christians, but Christians only. Think about that. We should be seeking to just be Christians, not arguing over doctrine, but loving people as we try to win them to Christ. We should not spend time ripping each other apart over difference when a brother or sister is struggling in sin, debt, depression, or the many other things that plague our society.
I know that doctrine is important. So how do we find the healthy balance? How do we discuss our difference in a way that is building up not tearing down? When we figure that out, I believe many churches will see amazing growth.