What about controversy in the Church?
What can we learn from these Controversies?
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. –Galatians 1:8
Divisions are everywhere. In fact, some may argue that our world today is more divided and polarized than ever – or at least that our country is more divided than it ever has been in our history. People have differing opinions and viewpoints on religion, politics, the global pandemic, economic practices, parenting styles, education, and just about everything else.
However, these divisions are not always thought of as existing within the Christian church as well. Sure, there is division outside the church, but aren’t Christians to simply get along with each other, always and continually loving each other, united in perfect community?
Sure, this would be ideal. But any and every true Christian realizes that this is not reality, even within the true Church of Christ. We have arguments. Sometimes these arguments and divisions are over the smallest of things – like the type of doughnuts to offer on Sunday mornings or the color of the sanctuary carpet. Other times, these divisions are over much more serious matters of theology and Christian practice.
In this week’s Question of the week, I discussed a major controversy that took place in our church body (The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod) that caused many congregations to leave the LCMS and form their own denomination. Although we lament over the loss of unity, we must also recognize that false teachings should not be allowed to exist in the church alongside true Christian teaching.
In Galatians 1:8, St. Paul warns the church in Galatia that anyone who proclaims a “Good news” that is different from the one He had told them, should not be allowed to continue teaching. In fact, Paul goes so far as to say that they should be cursed by God and by the congregation. We too, must realize that true and right teaching of God’s word is vital for our church body and for our congregation. This is why we continue to preach from God’s word, teach from the catechism and other tried and true confessions of the Christian faith, and uphold and hear the instruction of those who have passed the faith on to us. In this way, we guard against false teachings, that ultimately could lead us away from the God who has loved us so dearly in Christ Jesus!
We realize that divisions in the church are not healthy or good, but we also continue to proclaim Christ Jesus, and His word revealed to us through the Bible. His authority must be confessed over and above any word from our world. We must be willing to divide on this topic – even if it means splitting the church. If we must be polarized in this divided and dualistic world, may we stand firmly on the foundation of the teaching of Christ!
We know true unity will come when Christ returns in glory. However, for now, we wait. We wait for unity. We wait for peace. Come quickly Christ Jesus.
Prayer: O Holy Spirit, protect your church and the saints who are in Christ Jesus from every attack of the evil one, and keep them safe from all false teaching and strife that would lead them away from the Son of God. In the name of that same Jesus, Amen.