Jeremiah Johnson of Grace to You asks: Should we or shouldn’t we debate our doctrinal differences?
Many believers argue that our focus should be on what we agree on, and that we must set aside anything we disagree on. So does that mean we should ignore our differences with those who teach universalism? What about those who teach the word-faith prosperity gospel…NAR/dominionist theology…Eastern mysticism…ignore these folks, too? Should we let slide sins such as fornication, adultery, homosexuality and abortion for the sake of unity?
Johnson argues that we must do as Paul instructs us in 2 Timothy 2:14 and hold fast to sound doctrine. He includes the following quote from Dr. John MacArthur:
Paul’s purpose was to motivate and encourage Timothy to keep a firm grasp on that truth himself and to pass it on to others who would do likewise … It is only with a thorough knowledge of God’s truth that falsehood and deceit can be recognized, resisted, and opposed. . . .
So back to the question at hand: Does God condemn debate? Let’s find out…
Think of the division right now in the Body of Christ. We have all these names that don’t exist to God: Baptist, Presbyterian, Nazarene, Pentecostal, Charismatic. God doesn’t have any idea what any of them mean, because He only has one Body. . . . He has one Body—the Body of the Lord Jesus Christ. Evangelical—evangelical doesn’t even exist to God. We’re using words that aren’t in the Bible. We’re thumping the Bible and being unbiblical while we’re thumping it. He only has—there’s one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one Body. And He doesn’t like us dividing up His Body.
In the moment, it struck me as nonsense. Of course God knows what our denominational titles mean; of course He understands where the doctrinal lines have been drawn in the sand.