Introduction Part 2: The Doctrines That Divide By Erwin Lutzer
September 24, 2018
To continue with another quote fromPastor Lutzer’s book: “Ecumenism is receiving much support in our day, even from the public press. We’ve all read accounts telling us that the Roman Catholic understanding of justification is really much closer to Lutheranism than generally thought. The optimists are predicting a merger of at least some Protestant denominations with the Church of Rome. To quote George Cary in his book “A Tale of Two Churches”, “I have high hopes not only for an increase in mutual understanding but also for the eventual reunion of the two streams of Western Christendom.” He believes that this is necessary to fulfill the prayer of Christ, “that they may be one”.
The “they” spoken of in Christ prayer means you and me, i.e. all Christians. It is no mystery how difficult it is for two Christians with opposing ideas regarding any doctrine of the Bible to dwell harmoniously. Amos 3:3 “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” Which is a valid question we as The Body of Christ should be asking ourselves today. I would suppose that every Believer who reads this post has heard sermons on 1st Corinthians 12. Somehow, the true message of that chapter seems to be lost not only on those who hear it but also on those who preach and teach it. Individual churches whittle it down to one thing; it is all about us, just our church.
We all need to pay very close attention to the real LORD’S prayer in John 17: 20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. 24 “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. 26 And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”
Creeds and mission statements vary from one church to another. However, Christ Words are an eternal constant…they will never change (Ps. 119:89). The LORD said that His Church would be one with Him and The Father by filling us with The Holy Spirit (1st Cor. (6:17). On the other hand, when we get puffed up with our own ideas about what The Church should look like, suddenly we have no need for the rest of The Body. Attitudes shift from loving one another to segregating from one another. The Spirit of God said this through The Apostle Paul:
1st Cor. 12: 20 “But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. 23 And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, 24 but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, 25 that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.”
Since I have been a Born Again Christian, I have heard this is a paraphrased version of how many believers interpret verse 20, which encourages more factions; “It should be obvious to all churches that there should be denominations, Paul said, “there are many members, yet one body.” However, verse 25 in the same chapter nullifies such stupidity. Christ prayed “I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one (John 17:25)”, and Paul concurred by writing under the unction of that same Spirit 1st Cor. 6: 17 “But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him”. After studying these verses in context, it begs the question, which freeway off-ramp did we get off on? That’s a rhetorical question, because I got off on Lutheran Lane., you got off on Methodist Mdwy, and some others got off on Baptist Blvd.
This book looks at the historical accounts of the Doctrines the Church has divided over, and what brought them about. Here is a list of those doctrines: 1. Is Christ truly God? 2. Is Christ Truly Man? 3. Was Mary the Mother of God? 4. Was Peter the First Pope? 5. Justification by Faith, Sacraments, or Both? 6. Why Can’t We Agree about the Lord’s Supper? 7. Why Can’t We Agree about Baptism? 8. How Many Books are in The Bible? 9. Predestination or Free Will: Augustine v. Pelagius 10. Predestination of Free Will: Luther v. Erasmus 11. Predestination of Free Will: Calvin v. Arminius 12. Predestination of Free Will: Whitfield v. Wesley 13. Can A Saved Person Ever Be Lost?
In Conclusion, some of us have no idea about who some of these men are. Sunday after Sunday, and Bible Study after Bible Study we sit under their understanding and teachings of The Word of God. Some of our church leaders are very much aware of who these men are but they will not share that information with us, the congregation either for fear that we might choose another way of thinking. Alternatively, perhaps they must follow the dictates of those above them because if they should make us aware of the various understandings of scripture, they could lose their jobs. I can, and will continue to speak freely about these things because I am committed to One God and the Man who stands between God and man, Christ Jesus (1st Tim. 2:5). Nor do I need to be concerned about losing my job. To be continued…