It was unexpected, totally. Last week, I wrote “The Dangers of Biblical Illiteracy: Inspiration or Interpretation?” and to my surprise, it attracted quite a bit of attention. It started making its rounds in Singapore, and over the next days, made its way into USA. To date, the post has been viewed (presumably read) more than 39,000 times.
Comments of all sorts came through too. I must admit that it took a little while getting used to certain types of remarks. I thought I was doing rather well until I received one last night that read, “Stop writing such articles. You’re dividing the church!” You won’t find it in the thread because I didn’t approve it. Today, I thought I’d be fair to the comment (since the person took effort to share his opinion) and write something about it.
By posting about biblical illiteracy and poor hermeneutics, am I dividing the Church? And even if I do, is it necessarily wrong?
I will be the first to admit that I was definitely doing some dividing – the Word, that is. As a servant of God, I am duty bound to rightly divide the word of truth. And according to 2 Tim 2:15, I do not have to be ashamed of it at all. This is expected of me and I will keep on doing it.
I am also very clear that the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than a two-edged sword. Hebrews 4:12 tells us that it divides soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and the thoughts and intents of the heart. Without doubt, the Word of God brings division.
Jesus, the living Word, declared that He came not to bring peace but a sword (Matt 10:34) and division (Luke 12:51). In other words, following and obeying Jesus will test relationships. Simply, if we choose to please Jesus, there will be times it will upset people, Christians included. As a result, there will be division.
So am I bringing division by exposing poor hermeneutics and for sounding a warning against biblical illiteracy? Yes! But is that necessarily wrong? Might I thus be guilty of breaking the unity of the Body of Christ? Humbly, no.
For sure, we are to strive for the unity of the Church. However, I do not believe that we are to do it at the expense of the Word of God! Not at all! I am sorry but we do not get to twist Scripture or ignore sound doctrine for the sake of unity. As a seasoned minister cautioning a younger one, Paul wrote to Timothy, “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.” (1 Tim 4:16)
If doctrine were not important, why would the apostles warn the Church of false apostles, false teachers, deceptions, and doctrines of demons? Is not unity more precious than quibbling over a few words? Does not the size of one’s congregation validate his doctrine? Should we not be allowed a certain latitude to discover truth as we experience or perceive it? After all, in the end, all God requires is a sincere heart, isn’t it? Can’t we just love by tolerating and giving each other space? Dear brothers and sisters, can you hear the postmodern Christian talking? Don’t fall for it!
More than getting upset about the right dividing of the Word of God that might divide the Church, let us be reminded that Scriptures warn of a separation that will take place at the end of the age – wheat and chaff (Matt 3:12), wheat and tares (Matt 13:30), good vessels and bad vessels (Matt 13:48), wise virgins and foolish virgins (Matt 25:1-13), faithful servants and unprofitable servants (Matt 25:14-30), sheep and goats (Matt 25:31-46). Clearly, the Word of God will not only divide, but also separate!
To this end, I will keep dividing the Word of God as best as I know how, learning from others, guided and directed by the Holy Spirit. As a teacher of the Word, I carry an extremely heavy responsibility for which I have to give account (James 3:1). I will preach and stand for unity, but I will not do it by compromising the Word. To this end, if there is division as a result of what I teach, so be it. I will not be ashamed of any division if it helps someone understand the separation that is to come, that he or she, by the Lord’s grace, might be found on the right side. Sola Scriptura.