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Strategies for Unity?

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Strategies for Unity?

Postby steve » Tue Sep 09, 2014 11:22 am

There is an interesting discussion on my Facebook wall (https://www.facebook.com/steve.gregg.39) about my upcoming lecture on strategies for unity. Ironic!
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Re: Strategies for Unity?

Postby Paidion » Tue Sep 09, 2014 3:14 pm

Steve, I am no longer on facebook (and it wasn't that easy to get off). Your link took me to your page and photos. But I could not read your article. Would you consider posting it to this thread.

Jesus prayed for the unity of all his disciples.

Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. (John 17:11)

To be one as the Father and the Son are one! That's a pretty tall order. The Father and the Son have total unity. The Son is the exact imprint of the Father's essence (Heb 1:3).

I am not sure how Trinitarians would understand becoming one as the Father and the Son are one. Would they become part of a huge "Godhead"?

Then Jesus also prayed for the unity of disciples from all ages. That includes us:

I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 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. (John 17:20,21)

One of the main teachings of the circle of fellowship of which I am part, is that of the coming together of the Body of Christ.

The disunity of Christians has persisted from the second century to the twenty-first. How Christ's prayer will be answered is a mystery to me. Indeed, it seems an impossibility. Yet, I believe it will be answered.

I'm not sure that any strategies for unity will bring about the answer to Christ's prayer; it has been tried for decades—such movements as the World Council of Churches, etc. But such strategies have availed nothing. There have been church unions of sorts. Tie a couple of cats together by their tails and suspend them over a clothes line, and you have union—but not unity.

As I see it all so-called "churches" today who have membership rolls, and give full privileges only to members, seem more like clubs than churches. People didn't join the Church which Christ founded. Rather the Lord added to the Church those who were being saved. (Acts 2:47). A true expression of the Church which Christ founded does not have membership rolls, but recognizes every true disciple of Christ, and every disciple then has full participation in the local assembly.

Until disciples are willing to leave their clubs and come together in the name of Jesus alone, on the basis of discipleship, there can never be unity. Yet I believe that unity will come for which Christ prayed. Man cannot bring it about, and I can't wait to see how God will do it!

Some had the vision for this unity as long ago as 1910. Around that time, this song was written:

Long scattered thy children, O Zion, have been,
But now they are gathering home:
The Spirit is calling, they gladly obey,
With songs of rejoicing they come.

Refrain:
Thy children are gathering home,
With joy they are gathering home;
From all the divisions in which they were scattered,
Thy children are gathering home.

False shepherds divided and scattered the flock,
And hirelings ruled o’er them for gain,
But back to their fold on Mount Zion’s fair height
They come to forever remain.

To unity glorious, rich and complete,
One faith and one body, one Lord,
One way and one Spirit, one hope and one God,
They come at the call of His word.

Sectarian walls shall no longer divide,
False teachers shall lead them no more;
True pastors shall feed them on heavenly food,
Their sorrows and sighings are o’er.
Paidion

Man judges a person by his past deeds, and administers penalties for his wrongdoing. God judges a person by his present character, and disciplines him that he may become righteous.

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Re: Strategies for Unity?

Postby steve » Tue Sep 09, 2014 6:14 pm

Hi Paidion,

It isn't an article—just an announcement about an upcoming lecture. There is a lot of commentary being posted. Much of it is just asking questions about whether it will be recorded, posted, etc. But, early in the conversation, some peaceable Roman Catholics enter the discussion. This does not disrupt anything, although they believe unity is to be found by all Christians joining the Catholic Church. The interesting stuff begins when a Catholic-basher (actually, he is a "Catholic-and-everybody-else-basher"), calling himself "Yeshua Follower" jumps in. At first, he is calm, though critical. Eventually, he goes wild, and makes himself "Exhibit A" of the problem my lecture is seeking to address. I have pasted below the main conversation, leaving out only peripheral posts not related to the discussion.


Steve Gregg
Okay, so this Saturday (September 13th), I am speaking in Temecula on the subject "Strategies for Unity." This is actually a subject that every Christian needs to know about. Divisions among Christians—whether between churches, between factions in the same church, or even between spouses—are a reproach to Christ and are a sin against His purposes. The reason that this is such a persistent problem, and so resistant of solution, is that it is a result of unrecognized spiritual attacks from the devil, who stands the most to lose from the unity of Christians. It seems that Christians have not learned how to fight in this warfare effectively (they fight each other just fine, but that is fighting on the side of the enemy). There are biblical strategies given to us in scripture, but most Christians have not learned them. I welcome you to join us and be an exception.

‪Claude LeBlanc [a Roman Catholic]
Thank you for doing your part for Christian unity! I pray that all Christians will one day be a true Body of Christ. But how is that possible without an authoritative visible head?

Steve J Basaraba
Never have I seen such separation of the body of Christ here Steve.....it amazes my catholic spirit!

‪Claude LeBlanc
That's the problem...what to do when Christians follow the Spirit in different directions...who shepherds them?

‪Renee Mike Peterschmidt
Claude LeBlanc: Jesus shepherds the body, by His Spirit. Obviously, not all who call themselves Christians know Him personally/intimately and follow Him perfectly by His Spirit. Obviously, the works of the flesh and temptation of satan can still take place. But Claude, what do you mean by Christians going in different directions? The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, self-control. The Spirit doesn't result in everyone looking the same, operating in the same gifts, or doing the same things. Maybe I don't understand your question.

‪Steve Gregg
Renee, I think that Claude, as a Roman Catholic, sees the divisions within Protestantism as a fruit of lacking one visible authority, like the Pope and bishops of the RCC. No doubt, organizational disunity (that is, diversity) is too often mistaken for actual disunity. Unity is the result of love and maturity in relationships—even across organizational lines. For example, a wonderful Roman Catholic couple has been coming to my weekly morning Bible studies, and showed up at our little Protestant church this morning (we are directly across the street from tje Catholic Church). They love the Lord and the Scriptures. They sat with us in church and went out with us for lunch afterwards. It would be hard to find a couple more like-minded with us on the things that matter. We had great unity, but we belong to very different religious circles.

Claude LeBlanc
I appreciate the Christ-like dialogue in these posts! I am asking sincere questions because I am very concerned about Christian disunity. I believe that real spiritual maturity would lead those who were following the Spirit to an actual practiced unity; not doing the same thing (many parts), but believing the same thing (one body). I don't have and issue with a Catholic couple gathering with other groups of Christians, but they are still Catholic, and there are differences.

Kris Wharton
If the spirit leads us into all truth and Christians don't agree on the truth, then who is listening to the spirit? The question itself lends to more disunity, but shouldn't it be asked, honestly?

Claude LeBlanc
The Spirit can only lead us to Christ, and Christ wants unity. Can there be any real unity (no matter how spiritual) apart from a physical unity that the world can see as a witness? Think of a family that doesn't spend time together (and could), but claims to love one another. Try to convince others of their real love.

‪Doug Beaumont [another Roman Catholic]
Claude is correct. I think the problem is (also) that the definition of words like "unity" and "one" have been redefined to account for the unbiblical division the Church has suffered in the last 500 years or so.

‪Claude LeBlanc
So...the question is...did Christ already leave us a way to come together..or do we just have to figure it out on our own?

‪Doug Beaumont
Yes he did. Mt. 16:18.

‪Claude LeBlanc
Amen! So...are we (quoting Jesus) part of the Church built upon Peter? And if not, why not? Are we being obedient to the Lord?

‪Doug Beaumont
I guess it depends on who "we" are. I don't want to hijack Steve's post - so here's "my" take:
‪http://souldevice.wordpress.com/.../what-is-full.../

‪Steve Gregg
There were people in Corinth who said "We are of Peter." Others were saying they belonged to other leaders (Apollos, Paul). Paul said that these leaders were not crucified for us, nor were we baptized in their names, so we are not "of" them but "of Christ (1 Cor.1:12-13). Paul told them that no other foundation for the church could be laid but Christ (1 Cor.3:11). The Church is built upon Christ, not Paul, Peter or Apollos.

Those who follow Christ are His. The Church is Christ's body and the metaphor suggests two things: 1) Members of one body share in the same spirit, and 2) members of one body are all guided by the same head. This is also the case with the true Church. Not all members belong to the same organization, but all are "of Christ."

Claude LeBlanc
So what are you saying about Mt. 16:18? Are you denying that Christ could, if he chose to, work with Peter in a unique way such as it reads?

‪Doug Beaumont
The New Testament describes the foundation of the Church in several ways (e.g, Mt. 16:18, 1 Cor. 3:11, Eph. 2:20, 1 Pet. 2:5–6, and Rev. 21:14). If it is agreed that the Bible is consistent, then all must be affirmed. Just as Christ is the head of the Church and yet husbands are the spiritual heads of their families, there is no problem in affirming multiple foundations. Jesus is the ultimate foundation, but what is built on him (the Church) is built on the apostles - with Peter as the chief as Church history points out.

Even disregarding Peter's unique role, the Church is at least built on (and identified by) the Apostles and not a 16th century monk. It is Protestants who broke the unity of the Church by claiming to be "of" Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Wesley, etc. That's just historical fact. One may argue that these men's traditions are to be trusted over against the Church's authority, of course - people have been doing so since Nicea - but I think the fruit of those experiments is also clear from history.

Steve Gregg
Actually, it is apparently possible to interpret history through different lenses. Luther had no interest in breaking fellowship with Rome (neither did Tyndale or Hus). These men sought to follow Christ according to their consciences, and to remain in communion with Rome. Tyndale and Hus were unconscionably betrayed, and martyred, for following their consciences, and Luther was excommunicated. He, too, would have been killed by Rome had he not been "kidnapped" by friends and concealed in the castle of the German king. It was not Luther who left the Church, but the Church that kicked him out and sought to kill him. Is this the fruit of the Catholic experiment?

The fruit of every experiment of institutional churches (Roman Catholic and Protestant) has been bad fruit. The problem lies in the institutionalization of a spiritual fellowship—an institutionalization encouraged by Cyprian and Augustine. Nicea did not create any new heretics. It defined new heretics. Those who had differing views before Nicea were Christian brothers—after Nicea, they were called "heretics." The men themselves had not changed in any way. The church simply defined them out of fellowship. This is the fruit of institutionalization. I believe the fruit is always bad. The Catholic Church had its inquisitions. Luther approved of cracking the skulls of peasants and burning down synagogues. Zwingli authorized the killing of 4,000 Anabaptists. Calvin burned Michael Servetus. What do all of these movements have in common?

I do not recommend following any 16th-century monk (nor any other monk; nor any other man). Christians, by definition, are followers of Christ.

The church is built upon the ministries of the apostles (including Peter) and prophets, but it is built upon Christ Himself, as Paul said. Peter was one of the apostles, and what Jesus said to him (Matthew 16:18-19), he repeated to the rest of the apostles (Matthew 18:18; John 20:23). There is no indication that he was above the others, and, at the Council of Jerusalem, where the apostles gathered, Peter and Paul both gave testimonies, but the decision was made by neither of them, but by James (Acts 15:7, 12, 13). It would appear that both Peter and Paul reported to James in Jerusalem (Acts 12:17; 21:18-26). Where do we find the primacy of Peter?

Claude LeBlanc
Jesus only called Peter "the rock" individually, never James. In Acts 12, Peter reported to James as the head of brothers in Jerusalem, but doesn't mean Peter wasn't the head of the Apostles. Washington DC has a mayor, but he isn't the President. Peter's name is always first among lists of the Apostles, and that seems significant.

Steve Gregg
James isn't even in the lists of the apostles. He was the Lord's brother and not identified with either of the two Jameses in the apostolic lists. If the order in which names are listed corresponds to rank, why are the twelve names listed in different orders in the four lists? Did some of those guys change rank from time to time?

Peter was called the Rock (because that was the meaning of his name), but Peter himself, when describing the "Rock" upon which the church is built mentioned only Jesus, and not himself (1 Peter 2:6-8).

You make claims about Peter's primacy, but (as I asked before) where is it seen in scripture?


‪Claude LeBlanc
I gave two that I see, but you interpret differently.

‪Doug Beaumont
I hear you, no human or human institution has been free from error. Israel and her kings were often horrible, and Peter even denied Christ. However, Israel remained the chosen people of God even when they sinned - the remnant did not go start a new nation and call themselves the true Israel. Israel's kings and prophets were far from perfect, yet they remained Israel's kings and prophets and could, under certain circumstances, produce infallible pronouncements.

Likewise, Peter sinned in both morally and confessionally - but he was still an apostle and could, under certain circumstances, produce infallible pronouncements (BTW - James was the Bishop of Jerusalem, so it makes sense that he would deliver the verdict - but it was Peter's testimony that stopped the discussion!).

Point being - doing bad things is the result of human sinfulness, and that is why it cannot be used to discern the Church or its infallible pronouncements. Granted, that does not, by itself, mean that this has continued - but given that the canon of the Bible as well as standard Christian orthodoxy was determined by the Church centuries after the apostles died, I'd say we better hope God kept his safeguarding up! if he didn't then all bets are off. And if it was not removed, then declaring heretics to be heretics is just as trustworthy as the canon or orthodoxy.


Steve Gregg
"(BTW - James was the Bishop of Jerusalem, so it makes sense that he would deliver the verdict - but it was Peter's testimony that stopped the discussion!)."

Not to be nitpicky, but this is not correct.

In scripture, James is never described as a "bishop" but he is called an "apostle" (Gal.1:19). In the first century, there were not individual bishops of churches (this phenomenon is first found in Ignatius, in the second century). The "Bishops" were the same as "Elders" and there were multiple elders in each church (Titus 1:5-7). (By the way, they had to be married men, too!)

At the Council of Jerusalem, Peter's comments did not stop the discussion. Paul and Barnabas' testimonies followed his, and James announced a verdict. Are you aware how many things you have been taught to read into the text? We all have been taught to do this. We need to examine things without the glasses fitted for us by religious institutions.

The Bible was not given to us by the Roman Catholic Church (the church of the East also has the Bible, but was never associated with Rome). The apostles and prophets gave us the Bible. The churches preserved the documents from earliest times, and later church councils helped to identify which documents were authentic. This was done before the priority of Rome had ever been established. If these councils had failed to make these identifications, later (even modern) scholars could have reached essentially the same results. Therefore, the fact that Catholics recognize the same Bible as the rest of us do is not because they gave us the Bible. They received it just as the rest of us did.


‪Doug Beaumont
Simply because the Bible does not say X, that does not mean X is false.

As to the order of events: "... the brethren determined that Paul and Barnabas and some others of them should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders
[why not settle it themsleves???]
concerning this issue . . . After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, . . All the people kept silent,
[Peter's words stopped the debate]
and they were listening to Barnabas and Paul as they were relating what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. After they had stopped speaking, James answered, saying, “Brethren, listen to me. Simeon
[not Barnabus or Paul]
has related how God first concerned Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name. 15 With this the words of the Prophets agree..."

Well, as is standard among us fallible humans, we disagree over the interpretation of these passages. I'll stick with the teaching of the Church that gave us the biblical canon and orthodoxy (and Preterism!).


‪Steve Gregg
With my blessing!


Yeshua Follower
I am a separatist at heart...keeps me away from error and spiritual BS...Unity for the sake of unity is dangerous IMO.


‪Steve Gregg
Since the Bible commands us to get along without judging Christians who don't share our views (Rom.14:1-7), and to live peaceably with all men, as much as lies on our part to do so (Rom.12:18), a separatist approach may itself be a species of error. It seems like it would be really difficult to fulfill all those "one another" commands while separated from the brethren. To love our opinions more than we love the brethren seems like a departure from Christ's teachings.


Yeshua Follower
Well then....do we not classify who 'the brethren' actually are...Should we be hanging out with Benny Hinn or fellowshipping at Bethel? Are we not to make distinctions of any kind? It is the Lord who builds His Church/Body...Not us just joining to one another arbitrarily IMO...Please show me how this viewpoint is un-biblical.


‪Steve Gregg ...
Yeshua Follower,
I think we should be outspoken for the truth. Our fellowship is with anyone who seeks to follow Jesus and loves the truth. If you speak the truth in love, those who love the truth will either agree with you, or else they will be unpersuaded, but appreciate your sharing your insights nonetheless.

Those who will not endure hearing anything contrary to their opinions are not lovers of the truth. If Benny Hinn would listen to my criticisms of him, I would welcome the opportunity to spend the time with him. I suspect he would not.

In any case, I said nothing about arbitrarily joining just any group. Some groups will be open to growth, and others will not. But, quite apart from joining a group, we must discern the presence of a true disciple even in many with whom we disagree.

Yeshua Follower
Protestants and Catholics together? Catholicism is cultic and it's adherents need salvation. When Catholics truly become born again the first thing they should do is LEAVE the Catholic church/cult IMO...They worship a different Jesus...

Steve Gregg
Perhaps everyone who gets saved should immediately leave their respective churches, because of the errors taught in them. Or maybe they should view them as a mission field. Hard to say. One thing is clear, and that is that not everyone sees things the same, and, while every church may have its errors, not all Christians will agree as to what those errors may be. I don't think Catholics worship a different Jesus (though they certainly venerate a different Mary) than any other Christians do.

Their forms of worship might strike some of us as superstitious, while they would see some of ours in a similarly negative light. However, the Bible never established complete agreement as the basis of fellowship or salvation. Agreement is a desirable goal, but that will not be achieved without respect for another's liberty of conscience and charitable communication.

Doug Beaumont
Yeshua Follower - Other than calling him by the name recorded in the New Testament, what is so "different" about the Jesus of the Catholics from yours?

‪Yeshua Follower
If blatant Idolatry is OK to overlook, then anything goes and unity is achieved. You speak as if Jesus has nothing negative to say about any of the causes of doctrinal differences, in fact, that He allows it, or even establishes it through the various church and religious leaders...No big deal to Him...let's just all just get along! God divides those things that differ and does not try to breed sheep with goats. Truth and error do not mix...unless there is no such thing as an absolute. I respect your teaching Steve, but I think you are drifting for the sake of ecumenism. There is one head of the body, Jesus...and He would not say what is truth for one part is not truth for all parts. We do not use our own understanding to establish truth, God reveals it to us via revelation through the Holy Spirit. He would not tell one part one thing and one part another, otherwise there would be no continuity at all, which is what you see in the church system today...trying all manner of ways to unify.

“Other than calling him by the name recorded in the New Testament, what is so ‘different’ about the Jesus of the Catholics from yours?”...My Jesus does not promote or condone Mary worship, praying to saints (so-called), Idolatry, Icons, repetitious prayers, Priestcraft...etc...etc...


‪Yeshua Follower (pasting in an article by A.W. Tozer)

When to unite and when to divide, that is the question, and a right answer requires the wisdom of a Solomon.

Some settle the problem by rule of thumb: All union is good and all division bad. It's that easy. But obviously this effortless way of dealing with the matter ignores the lessons of history and overlooks some of the deep spiritual laws by which men live.

If good men were all for union and bad men for division, or vice versa, that would simplify things for us. Or if it could be shown that God always unites and the devil always divides it would be easy to find our way around in this confused and confusing world. But that is not how things are.

To divide what should be divided and unite what should be united is the part of wisdom. Unions of dissimilar elements is never good even where it is possible, nor is the arbitrary division of elements that are alike; and this is as certainly true of things moral and religious as of things political or scientific.

The First Divider

The first divider was God who at the creation divided the light from the darkness. This division set the direction for all God's dealings in nature and in grace. Light and darkness are incompatible; to try to have both in the same place at once is to try the impossible and end by havng neither the one nor the other, but dimness rather, and obscurity.

In the world of men there are at present scarcely any sharp outlines. The race is fallen. Sin has brought confusion. The wheat grows with the tares, the sheep and the goats coexist, the farms of the just and the unjust lie side by side in the landscape, the mission is next door to the saloon.

But things will not always be so. The hour is coming when the sheep with be divided from the goats and the tares separated from the wheat. God will again divide the light from the darkness and all things will run to their kind. Tares will go into the fire with tares and wheat into the garner with wheat. The dimness will lift like a fog and all outlines will appear. Hell will be seen to be hell all the way through, and heaven revealed as the one home of all who bear the nature of the one God.

For that time we with patience wait. In the meanwhile for each of us, and for the church wherever she appears in human society, the constantly recurring question must be: What shall we unite with and from what shall we separate? The question of coexistence does not enter here, but the question of union and fellowship does. The wheat grows in the same field with the tares, but shall the two cross-polinate? The sheep graze near the goats, but shall they seek to interbreed? The unjust and the just enjoy the same rain and sunshine, but shall they forget their deep moral differences and intermarry?

To these questions the popular answer is yes. Union for union's sake, and men shall be brothers be for a' that. Unity is so devoutly to be desired that no price is too high to pay for it and nothing is important enough to keep us apart. Truth is slain to provide a feast to celebrate the marriage of heaven and hell, and all to support a concept of unity which has no basis in the Word of God.

The Spirit-illuminated Church

The Spirit-illuminated church will have none of this. In a fallen world like ours unity is no treasure to be purchased at the price of compromise. Loyalty to God, faithfulness and truth and the preservation of a good conscience are jewels more precious than gold of Ophir or diamonds from the mine. For these jewels men have suffered the loss of property, imprisonment and even death; for them, even in recent times, behind the various curtains, followers of Christ have paid the last full measure of devotion and quietly died, unknown to and unsung by the great world, but known to God and dear to His Father heart.

In the day that shall declare the secrets of all souls these shall come forth to receive the deeds done in the body. Surely such as these are wiser philosophers than the religious camp followers of meaningless unity who have not the courage to stand against the vogues and who bleat for brotherhood only because it happens to be for the time popular.

Wise Sheep

"Divide and conquer" is the cynical slogan of Machiavellian political leaders, but Satan knows how to unite and conquer. To bring a nation to its knees the aspiring dictator must unite it. By repeated appeals to national pride or to the need to avenge some past or present wrong the demagogue succeeds in uniting the populace behind him. It is easy after that to take control of the military and to beat the legislature into submission. Then follows almost perfect unity indeed, but it is the unity of the stockyards and the concentration camp. We have seen this happen several times in this century, and the world will see it at least once more when the nations of the earth are united under Antichrist.

When confused sheep start over a cliff the individual sheep can save himself only be separating from the flock. Perfect unity at such a time can only mean total destruction for all. The wise sheep to save his own hide disaffiliates.

Power lies in the union of things similar and the division of things dissimilar. Maybe what we need in religious circles today is not more union but some wise and courageous division. Everyone desires peace but it could be that revival will follow the sword..
.AW Tozer


Curtis Lee Hall
Is Protestantism really that much different than Catholicism? I believe both have serious problems. Martin Luther brought about a partial reformation, being saved by grace instead of works. But the rest? They replaced the priest with a pastor or reverend. They still build temples made with hands, sit in pews, think and call their songs of praise 'worship' to God. Is that the worship Jesus spoke about to the woman at the well? A man-made structure or institution where they have a hireling (John 10) mediating between the temple worshippers and their God. Where is the NT ecclesia where all believers are priests? Where they minister to each other as the Spirit leads each believer. When you see the epistle writers admonishing an ecclesia for getting off track, where does the epistle admonish the so-called pastor of that ecclesia? There was no such thing as a pastor leading a local ecclesia. Paul left Titus in Crete to appoint elders in every city. Why didn't Paul tell Titus to appoint any pastors? My point being that Protestantism isn't really that much different then Catholicism. They are both very different than the ecclesia we read about in the NT. Jesus said to call no man father. Don't you think we are saying the same thing in spirit when we call someone our pastor? Most people are afraid to call their pastor by his first name. Idolatry? Where does any disciple in the NT ever have a title in front of his name? There is no such thing as a title for a believer in the NT. Only Jesus has a title. We are all priest, and Jesus is the ONLY High Priest (Heb 3:1). 2000 years ago almost nobody had it right. Jesus was constantly correcting their wrong beliefs. His disciples had a very hard time understanding Him. So, how far are we off in our teachings and doctrines today? What is it that God really cares about?

Yeshua Follower
I agree Curtis Lee Hall...I do not follow or accept ANY religious institution as viably Biblical...Therefore, to unify them is ridiculous to me...a judging between goats and goats...I was only using protestantism as a backboard against Catholicism. All religious institutions are errant IMO so the fact that there are 30,000 denominations comes as no surprise...I say "come out and be ye separate"...not "lets seek unity". It all stands or falls on one's definition of the church, a definition that Steve and I apparently do not agree on...

‪Steve Gregg ...
Yeshua Follower,
I think we actually do have very different ideas (or maybe just different spirits). But I wonder what you think my idea of the church is? I reject institutionalism and I think it funny that you are reacting to my announced topic as if I believe in uniting institutional churches. If you object simply to the word "unity" then you have serious problems with David, Jesus and Paul, who placed that very word at a very high premium.

‪Yeshua Follower
Very subtle dig Steve...I would expect such from James White but I never thought you would resort to the tactic of misconstrued definitions and that now I have a 'different' spirit against unity. Your opening announcement says your viewpoint, I would hope, regarding churches and what defines church, to you. Seems cut and dry to me as to where you are going and what you mean. The absolutism in your advertisement stands out very well. If you are not referring to institutional churchianity, then you are you referring to? Seems to me that institutional chuchianity is the only group that would have this problem.

‪Steve Gregg ...
Yeshua Follower

You wrote: "If you are not referring to institutional churchianity, then you are you referring to?"

Maybe you should find out before speaking out. "He that answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him." (Prov.18:13—One of the first lessons in strategies for unity)!

And then, with great irony, you write: "Seems to me that institutional chuchianity is the only group that would have this problem."

Can't you see that you, who reject institutional church, are writing in a more divisive way against your brethren than even the Catholic contributors whom you decry?

I reject institutional church as you do, but I don't reject people. That is where we differ. Like Paul, I intend to "follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart." (2 Tim.2:22). There are people in every communion of Christians who seek Him out of a pure heart.

‪Yeshua Follower
Rhetorical question Steve..."If you are not referring to institutional churchianity, then you are you referring to?"...I withdraw from the debate...I do not change my viewpoint though...Your followers will rally to your aid. I used to respect you...I think you have missed the boat Steve...Perhaps pride has caused you to fall overboard...

Steve Gregg
Yeshua Follower,
I noticed that you put nothing on your Facebook page to give any indication of who you are or where you live. This speaks to me of a person who lacks the courage of his convictions and likes to take pot shots anonymously. You are the second person with your spirit that I have had dealings with this week (unless you are the same person). He was one of the reasons I saw the need to speak on this subject. Since you see no need for unity with Christians other than those who see things your way, I wonder what you think the prayers and exhortations for unity in scripture were talking about. The irony is that my Catholic friends have less of a religious spirit, and more of the Spirit of Christ than you have exhibited here.

‪Yeshua Follower
There goes your unity Steve...division over whether one keeps anonymity or not and then the accusations fly...coward, no convictions, religious spirit...clandestine attacks via multiple personalities...You have just proven my point...You have dodged even AW Tozer's viewpoint...and now you seek to destroy the message by discrediting the messenger...I care about people and I care about the truth...and will not compromise for the sake of either...

Steve Gregg
And you have proven my point as well.

Yeshua Follower
So let it be written...so let it be done...

Joseph Matthew
Steve, the irony of your willingness to claim a "different spirit" against a brother that does not share your view on unity and your seeming unwillingness to do so towards the member of a religious institution that has persecuted the true church of Christ for centuries and perpetuates teachings that are contrary to what Christ teaches has not escaped my notice. I also, respect you quite a bit but I would offer that if someone is truly a Christian, that is a disciple of Christ, the pagan nature of the Catholic Church will be among the first errors noted by a true follower of Jesus. How can one participate in an organization that is in opposition on so many points to the scripture?

‪Steve Gregg ...
It is amazing how many blind spots a disciple may retain after conversion. If you have any experience in the churches, you will know what I mean. A man is not judged for his blind spots, in my opinion. His heart is what determines his status with God. Most Catholics have never persecuted a single Christian (though I have been involved in another discussion today through email with one Catholic who is particularly accusatory and obnoxious). Most Catholics, if judged by their works (the only basis the scripture gives for the judgment), will fare as well as most Protestants in the judgment. You may tend to underestimate the errors and idolatries of Protestants.

By the way, no one has ever heard any defense of the Catholic institution (or any other) from me. And as far as identifying a nasty spirit in another professed Christian—well, I call them like I see them. He will be fortunate if God disagrees with my assessment, which He might. However, judging from Jesus' rebuke of His disciples, "You know not what spirit you are of," I wouldn't have my hopes up. A spirit of religious pride and self-righteousness is not hard to spot.

It is a cheap criticism to say that the Catholic institution has perpetuated wrong doctrines, since every denomination I know of would justly face similar criticism. The fact that you think God condemns people for having wrong opinions shows to what degree we have fallen to the very spirit that led to the Inquisitions and to the excommunication of Luther. Catholics killed dissidents for having "wrong doctrines" and there seems to be a similar antagonism on the part of some here toward the Catholics for having "wrong doctrines." Maybe another Thirty Year War between Catholics and Protestants is needed to get as many of us possible dead sooner, rather than later, so that we can the sooner find out for sure who was more "right". Jesus never said people would be saved by being right about everything. He said disciples would be known by their love.


Joseph Matthew
I know Yeshua Follower quite well, and have my entire life for that matter. I hope you do not view my comments as me simply "coming to his defense" as he and I share some different theological views ourselves. I only say that because I can attest that he does in fact, have the Spirit of Christ within him.

I agree with your assessment of blind spots in the new believer and was not intending to imply you are in defense of Catholics, I only used that particular religious system as a way to express my meaning. I do not hold to Protestantism either. Many religious organizations have committed many crimes, all in the name of Jesus and no doubt God will call out his ecclesia as He always has. I would state further that if a Catholic or a Protestant or a satanist, for that matter, is shown the error of their ways and willfully chooses to continue to participate in a system that denies the teachings of Jesus, then they are not lovers of the Truth.


Steve Gregg
I agree completely with this last comment. If a person of any belief system refuses the truth when convinced of it, that person is no lover of truth, and probably no Christian. But we may think that, as soon as we have critiqued another's beliefs, he has now seen the truth and is responsible to change. We may be flattering our own abilities to persuade others. If I tell a man he is wrong, that does not mean he now knows he is wrong.


Joseph Matthew
I agree. One plants and one waters but God gives the increase.


Christina Kolstad
Steve, you are wrong and don't even know it, but we can't make a man see when he is wrong now can we.... may the Lord have mercy on you...


‪Yeshua Follower
It would be best Steve if you changed your ministries name to 'The Broad Path'. You resort to character assassination and accusation against someone who disagrees with you...even implying I am not even a Christian...Such a farce you put on... I think YOU have crossed the line buddy...The very thing you accuse me of you are guilty of. I have NO respect for you anymore...I repent for having bought and read your books...I suspected something was wrong when you used Rob Bell (a heretic) as an example for Christian thought on universalism in your book on Hell. This discussion was not about Catholics entirely, you made it that so you could avoid focusing on the entirety of my comments. You supposedly received the baptism of the Holy Spirit when Lonnie Frisbee laid hands on you, and yet many of us know of what spirit he was and how he ended up. "Can two walk together unless they be in agreement?"...You eliminated or soften distinctions so that you are able to walk with anybody, regardless of whether they are involved in a idolatrous cult such as Catholicism or not. Kiss the Popes ring for me will you...say a few 'Hail Mary's' on my behalf...or even continue on in the protestant hierarchy that provides venues for your 'speaking' engagements...It matters not to me. But I will say this, you are dangerous Steve...dangerous TO the Body of Christ. You make yourself the discerner and arbitrator of Biblical truth...a teacher who has no need of instruction and who crushes those who would say otherwise with accusation and slander...That sounds like Satan to me...The greatest debater of all time... I suggest you read the Tozer post and comment on that...He would be easier for you to slander as he is not here to defend his statements...Goodbye

‪Steve Gregg
So, Joseph Matthew, this is an example of the Spirit of Christ that you are sure your friend possesses? I know he is your friend, but do you or any of his friends point out the bitterness and arrogance that spews out of him? No wonder the Gospel languishes when its preachers mistake this venom for the Spirit of Jesus.

Christina, I am not aware of what you may be referring to. What comment of mine is it with which you are in disagreement? And how do you know that I am wrong? Do you have an argument to present? If you'd like to help me out in this, please be specific enough for me to know the subject matter you are discussing. If you could look back over every post of mine in this thread, let me know which one contains an error, and I'll check it out.


‪Steve Gregg ....
Tozer would roll over in his grave to think that the above tirade somehow appealed to him for support. I read everything in print by Tozer (repreatedly) when I was in my twenties, and considered myself something of a disciple of his. He often complained about people who think they are like Paul, because they agree with his statements, but do not notice they entirely lack the spirit of Paul. Tozer would grieve to find people today who, because they agree with his statements, think themselves to be on the same page with him, when they know nothing of his spirit. I might recommend you read Tozer's editorial entitled "God is Easy to Live With." You can find it here: ‪http://www.neve-family.com/books/tozer/root/03.html

It is interesting that my quoting Rob Bell would be objected to, when I was writing a chapter presenting the restorationist position, and quoting advocates of that position. Perhaps you didn't know that he was one of the advocates of restorationism? In citing the spokesmen for a position, I do not profess personal agreement with them in all their doctrinal positions (nor even in the statement being quoted).

Sandy Robert
‪Steve Gregg: I thank you for a great many things in my life, truly I do, and I am not alone in my gratitude. While reading through this thread it struck me how patient and gracious you were being towards the 'chief dissenter.' Regardless of the content (which, by the way, I wholeheartedly agree with you), you have given myself, and many others, an important lesson on fb debate etiquette. Good on ya, and I hope your upcoming teaching on unity is fruitful.


Curtis Lee Hall
Great article by Tozer Steve. Also, I wish everyone, even non-believers, would read the book by Phillip Yancey, The Jesus I Never Knew. What an eye opener for everyone who is curious about the heart of God, and may need to be washed and cleansed from the church culture they might have grown up with. Sad, that a post to promote unity has degraded to this point. But I also know very well how hard it is to let something go that I have a response to, especially when I feel the need to correct a wrong view. I'm am also curious by what Christiana meant by her very vague statement? Wrong? How? I'm the curious type.


Joseph Matthew
Steve, I stand by my statement. I would point out also that you exhibited some arrogance in some of your statements. You also went so far as to imply, or maybe said outright, I can't be sure, that Yeshua Follower is not a Christian. You also have resorted to personal attacks upon the character of a man, the only interaction with which being had through the medium of Facebook. I do not approve of these tactics by either party, as any fruitful discussion was certainly abandoned long ago. Who was more right? Who was wrong first? I have my opinions on these issues but will refrain from expressing them as it would only lead to more fruitless discussion. Every man is accountable to God and his own conscience and I, no doubt, am neither.

Sandy Robert
There was a clear aggressor in the issue, and that was YF. Whether he/she is a Christian or not, who knows? And frankly, I don't even care. The fact of the matter with regards to your statement is that Steve acted quite admirably (I, for one, would have banished him from the thread, and not for disagreeing, but for being polemical). If YF wants to act the way he/she does and live out his/her faith that way, then fine; but YF should not get so belligerent when others don't follow suit. My final thought on this: YF is going to be mighty surprised to see so many people at the Wedding Feast. I'll bring my camera to capture the moment.

Joseph Matthew
And you are free to hold those opinions Sandy. My statement was plain in its meaning and it is not my intention to defend one party or another, they are both grown men and are fully capable of doing that themselves. I am simply offering the opinion of one that has a high level of respect for both Steve and Yeshua Follower and trying as best I can, to do so in an unbiased manner.

Gabriel Aletheias McKay
I echo sandy in this thread. I would feel frustrated myself if I had I been the target of YF's statements. Steve you handled it well regardless that your frustration showed. Those that have ears to hear will want to hear, and those who don't will resort to other methods to arm wrestle their points across.

Joseph Matthew your friend may be a Christ follower but the spirit in which he spoke showed no evidence of it. Even Christians behave in un-christ like manners but they need to check their hearts and motives when they are made aware of their failings in attitude and fall to their knees and ask the spirit of God to renew them.

I find it interesting that you have admonished Steve and yet have given no rebuke to your other friend, even though you state in no uncertain words that you are not defending one against the other. It seems to me that YF's comments are belligerent, antagonistic, prideful, spiteful, and childish. I can't see how Steve's words can fall into any of these categories. If you truly feel the need to bring gentle rebuke it is misdirected.


Joseph Matthew
I will quickly address the statement made by Gabriel as to him "not seeing me rebuke my other friend" though. I have a real and personal relationship with Yeshua Follower and have spoken to him on the phone.


‪Steve Gregg
I had assumed as much. Good for you.
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Re: Strategies for Unity?

Postby dizerner » Tue Sep 09, 2014 7:17 pm

Thanks for posting that, I also don't have facebook.

Unity is a complicated topic, I think, and you have to sympathize with people that are worried about "eating and drinking with sinners" as a form of, what they see, both condoning the sin and perhaps being influenced by it. Yet we know we are all sinners, yet not all striving to the same to degree to purify ourselves, and purity we might speculate should come before unity. Indeed, we might see fleshly efforts at unity to be misguided since by our efforts we cannot accomplish so supernatural a task as Christ indicated when saying "I will build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail upon it"; yet we know we are commanded to do our part to pursue unity, however, a unity as described by Scripture as "in the Spirit," which might make one question whether there is a unity in that word the Bible likes to use so much, flesh. I feel I have a very personal interest and calling towards promoting unity so it's something I've taken seriously and contemplated deeply; I personally think that a Christian with a deep walk with God can see some people in most labels of Christianity who actually do have a real and living relationship with Christ, even if they are beset with a lot of odd beliefs. Then again one might think that one's own beliefs also may not be quite as accurate as one feels they are. There have been people I have had to cut off relationship with, because although they had the label of Christian, I felt they were not really listening or walking with the Spirit nor open to any new revelation from him. And that's a very tough call to make, one that should never be taken lightly.
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Re: Strategies for Unity?

Postby Paidion » Tue Sep 09, 2014 8:53 pm

Thank you, Steve, for taking the time to post this exchange. I appreciate it very much.
Paidion

Man judges a person by his past deeds, and administers penalties for his wrongdoing. God judges a person by his present character, and disciplines him that he may become righteous.

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Re: Strategies for Unity?

Postby Douglas » Wed Sep 10, 2014 12:28 am

wow, very interesting.

Thanks for sharing.
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Re: Strategies for Unity?

Postby Singalphile » Wed Sep 10, 2014 1:01 am

Dependency injection, inversion of control, loose-coupling, modularity and all of that. ... or are we talking about different strategies? (Ha, ha. That was a joke.) Either way, unity shouldn't be so complicated. I found that discussion pretty disheartening.
Last edited by Singalphile on Thu Sep 11, 2014 7:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
... that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. John 5:23
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Re: Strategies for Unity?

Postby steve » Wed Sep 10, 2014 5:53 pm

Additional posts from the Facebook thread (see earlier conversation by scrolling above):


Donald McKay
I hope a video will be later available on-line. Schismatics will not inherit the Kingdom, as I recall, so thanks, Steve! This is vital. Our life-goal has been clear: to remind all that Jesus prayed for our unity, that the Holy Spirit is continually moving in response to that prayer to tear down the walls we built to separate us, and that it's all of Self when any of us resist Him and work to retain these walls "in the name of doctrinal purity" - right? Any insights you have are appreciated.The ironic part is that the watching world sees these walls a whole lot more clearly than the church does. Just finished chatting with an elderly gentleman who long ago lost interest in Jesus because of all the divisions among us. They've deeply confused him and he wants no part of what we call the church.

Steve Gregg
Those who exclude and judge others as unworthy of fellowship because of different doctrinal viewpoints are simply perpetuating the same errors that began when the Church became institutionalized. They are the modern institutionalists, par excellence, while decrying the institutional churches!

Once we decide that we cannot fellowship with someone because their doctrines are "too wrong" for our tastes, we become just like those who directed the move toward creeds and councils to define who was and who was not a "brother." In the time of Christ and the apostles, a person was a brother if he was a committed follower of Christ, which was demonstrated (according to Jesus and Paul) by one thing: Love for one another (John 13:35; 1 Cor.13:1-3).

Even then, there were differences of opinion among them. Some still kept kosher diets, while others did not; some kept holy days while some did not; some knew that the Gentiles could be saved without circumcision, others did not; some favored Paul's style of church, while others favored Apollos' style. There were differences, and the apostolic counsel given to them was, "Do not judge...do not despise...Let everyone be fully persuaded in his own mind" (Rom.14:1-5), and "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" (2 Cor.3:17). The test of brotherhood was love, not conformity of opinions.

After Constantine's conversion, the ecumenical councils, beginning in the fourth century, turned the basis of fellowship on its head. It was no longer the brotherhood of the "loving," but the brotherhood of the "agreeing." The church was no longer a family, wherein differing members had to learn to get along with each other. It was now defined as a religious institution, in which those who disagreed were excluded (and, eventually, hunted down, tortured and killed). This new basis for acceptance/exclusion continued to be dominant from the fourth century to the present. The most common thing in carnal religion is the spirit of exclusion on the basis of disagreement (Paul called this a proof of carnality in 1 Cor.3:1-2).

Ironically, the spirit of exclusiveness is less dominant today in the Catholic Church, and in Protestant denominations, than it was a century ago. It is found today, almost exclusively, in the small-minded folk who want to retain this evil spirit of division—such as we have even seen demonstrated in a few posts in this thread.

The improvement of which I speak has not taken the form of mergers between denominations (the kind of thing that terrifies the likes of Yeshua Follower), but, rather, a less condemning attitude toward people of other groups. The Catholics, since Vatican II, regard Protestants to be "separated brethren" rather than damned heretics (does anyone not see this as an improvement?). Even people like Baptists are more inclined, today, to see Presbyterians (or even Catholics) as possible Christians who simply need a better grasp of scripture. Some may see this trend as dangerous—but those who do should realize that their attitude is one of the remnants of the institutionalistic attitude of "fellowship by agreement."

Here's why. Suppose we say that we cannot fellowship with people who do not share our views. Which views? Certainly, the first to go would be the Catholics and Eastern Orthodox, and any other group that "worships abominable idols" (though they themselves deny that they do so). But then, what about the Protestants who despise idolatry, but who still baptize infants? Certainly baptism is an important Christian doctrine. Should we exclude them too? Okay, they're out! But wait! Even in the remaining group, there are Calvinists and Arminians. Do those who stand across the aisle from us on this matter belong to the true Body of Christ? How can we tell? How confusing this becomes! Dang! (Oops! I forgot about those who think it is a sin to say "Dang!" I guess they're out too!)

Once we are now safely isolated and enjoying fellowship with our Arminian companions, someone in the group is likely to spoil it all by having a different opinion from us about eschatology, or women wearing head coverings, or whether man is bi-partite or tri-partite, or exactly how the trinity is to be conceived and described, or whether children should be spanked with the hand, with a rod, or not at all. Since we are committed to only fellowship with those who agree with us, we must continually narrow the circle of those whom we regard as "really" saved. There is no end to the process until it is just me and my two friends—and I am even suspicious, on some points, about them!

Those who adopt this odious attitude make a project of hacking limbs off the Body of Christ just for having the audacity to think for themselves, and to not agree with us! They commit the sin of Peter, whom Jesus rebuked for calling unclean those whom Christ (unbeknown to Peter) had cleansed.

Of course, they will not say they are dividing over "opinion." In their mind, they are always dividing over the interests of "the Truth." Their arrogance, apparently, prevents them from recognizing that what they call "the Truth" is really only their opinion of what is true, on every issue. It never crosses their mind for a moment that someone who disagrees with them could be half so intelligent, or half so sincere, or love the Truth (Jesus) half so much as themselves.

Humility is the key to their deliverance, but they are not even humble enough to recognize that they need humility. They are captives of satanic deception—not so much about doctrine as about themselves. They will keep dividing from others until they are alone. Sadly, those who are alone are, by definition, not in the Body of Christ. They are the product of carnal religious institutionalism carried to its logical conclusion.

From such may God deliver us.
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Re: Strategies for Unity?

Postby dizerner » Wed Sep 10, 2014 10:09 pm

Reminds me of this:

You may have heard this story, or read it in Max Lucado’s book, “A Gentle Thunder.” In either case, pretend you are hearing it for the 1st time.

“Some time ago I came upon a fellow ona trip who was carrying a bible. ‘Are you a believer?’ I asked him. “Yes,” he said excitedly. I have learned however that you can’t be too careful…so I probed. “Virgin birth?” I asked. “I accept it,” was his reply. “Deity of Jesus,” “Absolutely.” “Death of Christ on the cross?” “He died for all people.” Could it be that I was face to face with a Christian? Perhaps. Nonetheless, I continued my checklist.”Status of mankind?” “Sinners in need of grace.” “Definition of grace?” “God doing for mankind what mankind can’t do.” “Return of Christ?” “Imminent.” “Bible?” “Inspired.” “The church?” “The body of Christ.” I started getting excited. “Conservative or Liberal?” He was getting interested too. “Conservative.” My heart begain to beat faster. “Heritage?” “Southern Congregationalist Holy Son of God Dispensationalist Triune Convention.” That was mine too. “Branch?” “Pre-millennial, post-tribulation, noncharismatic, King James version, one-cup communion.” My eyes began to get teary. I had only one more question. “Is your pulpit wooden or fiberglass?” “Fiberglass,” he responded. I withdrew my hand and stiffened my neck. “Heretic!” I said and walked away.”
~ Classical Arminian Christian Mystic ~
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Re: Strategies for Unity?

Postby steve » Wed Sep 10, 2014 11:38 pm

Good anecdote!
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