This piggyback’s off my article last week. If you have not read that, you will want to do so first.
Some have brought up a concern with the approach I mentioned last week, namely, that I suggest that we accept those brothers into our gatherings who teach another gospel. In other words, I might be suggesting what is known as ecumenicism. Some will point out that Peter told churches to push those out who teach heresy. So, why do I suggest that we accept others despite their beliefs?
People who ask such questions over simplify my point of view. So, allow me distinguish the gospel from other doctrines.
As the heart of the Christian message, the gospel’s importance cannot be understated. And said simply, the gospel means “Good News.” Scriptures teach us that we have all sinned, and fallen short of the God’s Glory. As such, we deserve eternal separation from God, or Hell. Yet, God so loves us that He sent His only son that whoever repents of their sins, and believes on Him, will not parish in such fashion, but have everlasting life by His side. When we do that, the Bible says we become ‘born again.” At that point, Jesus promises that He will finish the work of our faith and that we will one day take our place at His side.
For me, this is a non-negotiable. As I mentioned last week, I do have some concern with some brethren from institutional denominations, churches and religions as they may sometimes not understand, or follow, this simple and true message. When talking to one of my LDS friends, they explained that to be admitted into the proper afterlife, one needed to go through the processes and blessings of the LDS church. That clear distinction from the “Good News” of the Bible would certainly be something I would want to address directly. Eventually, it could lead to a Biblical separation from a church gathering.
Now, compare the doctrine of the Gospel (or “good news”) outlined above with any number of other doctrines, such as baptism, Sabbath day worship, liturgy, predestination, Calvinism, holiday celebration, blessed/profane foods/words, or any other of countless theologies, doctrines, rules and regulations. I describe these, and so much more, as ‘other doctrines.’
I do not deny that these ‘other doctrines’ may have a place of great importance in the life of a Christian. However, I do not believe, ultimately, that if a brother holds an incorrect viewpoint on any of these that he will not be admitted into heaven. When God judges us, He will simply look in the Lamb’s Book of Life to see if we were born again, by accepting the Good News. God will not administer a theology test, and toss us into the flames of Hell because we did not embrace the tenants of the Trinity, or attended a home church instead of a proper denomination.
Outside of the ‘other gospel’ idea, there are reasons I may vote to have someone leave a group of Christians. However, that would probably be a topic for another post. And, I bet that everyone has their opinion on the matter, as well. Regardless, I believe that we should exercise caution when we separate or ostracize our brethren simply because their “other theologies” do not line up with our own. We can certainly discuss these issues, even fervently. However, to kick them out from our midst for things that God Himself would not should give us pause to reconsider our position.
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