Hurting Ourselves: Needless Controversy and Dissention

Stay away from those who have foolish arguments, who talk about useless family histories, or who make trouble and fight about what the Law of Moses teaches. These things are useless and will not help anyone. Give a warning to all those who cause arguments. If they continue to cause trouble after a second warning, then don’t associate with them.  (Titus 3. 9-10, ERV)

Surely you’ve heard the old aphorism, “Divide and conquer?” Of course, it’s an effective tactic that stretches back to (probably) before recorded history. If one can manage to divide an army, then one has an excellent chance of winning the battle. If one can divide an entire kingdom — creating factions to fight other factions, forgetting about the necessity of unity — then one has set that kingdom up quite nicely for conquest.

This is, and has been, an effective tactic used by the Adversary against the Kingdom of God for ages upon ages, and this is as true today in my own country (the United States) as ever it has been! And how very sad and frustrating … sometimes nearly infuriating. There is seemingly no end to the foolish arguments, trouble-making and frivolous fights within the Church, the whole Body of Christ!

This was again brought to my attention yesterday when I decided to play an innocent, challenging game, simply called “Bible Trivia,” offered via Facebook. Yes, I downloaded the app and played and, horror of all horrors (hear the sarcasm in my voice), I had fun. For some reason, I then decided to read some of the comments beneath the Bible Trivia offer  on Facebook … and that was, perhaps, an idiotic mistake on my part!

Believe it or not, folks were actually arguing about the good and bad, positives and negatives, and possible inappropriateness of this game! Arguing … debating … fighting! For example, one man point-blank said the game was not only wrong but harmful. Why? Because, he said, it trivialized the Word of God. Unbelievable! Has he ever stopped to think that parents have used trivia — i.e. questions and answer “games” — to teach their children the contents of Scripture, and important life lessons in general, for eons!

Of course, one such comment from one individual wouldn’t have been that bad (however asinine), but his comment kicked off dozens upon dozens of reactions either against his position, or for it, or somewhere in between! This one individual with merely one negative comment managed to begin an ongoing, foolish argument among professing Christians while (spiritual) war is raging all around us! So … who do you think was really at the root of that man’s unnecessarily critical comment? 

My God! I get so tired, so weary, so discouraged by this sort of rubbish… Have mercy on us, Lord; have mercy on us! And until recently I didn’t realize that there are still Christians arguing that the King James Version (more appropriately called the Authorized Version) is the most accurate English translation of the holy Scriptures and, thus, the only translation that ought to be used by Christians. And they literally condemn all other translations!

You know, it’s perfectly alright to have an opinion. If someone believes that the Authorized Version (KJV) is the best English translation, then I’m willing to say, “Alright, very well. By all means, use that translation … read it, study from it, memorize it.” However, I’m not going to capitulate by throwing away all other translations I possess and begin using that (really very beautiful) translation only. And, really, there’s no need to argue about it. Point in fact, this should not still be an issue! 

And so many other minutia comes to mind, such as: length of hair, high heels and jewelry, old hymns versus contemporary praise and worship, formal or informal, whether or not to recite the Apostles’ Creed (which I happen to believe is an excellent practice!), and so much more. Should churches have padded pews or unpadded, or individual theater-type seats, or whatever? Are you dishonoring the Word of God if you do not stand when Scripture is read? Is a woman sinning if she trims her hedges on a nice Sunday afternoon?

Of course, there are important issues, and I’m not dismissing this truth … at all. Also, I’m not setting myself up as someone with the authority to judge what constitutes an important issue and what does not; however, sometimes it’s just obvious, as plain as the nose on your face. The Apostle St. Paul realized this, which is precisely why he warned against foolish arguments, trouble-making, and “things (that) are useless and will not help anyone.” 

In this country, we are not only entering into but already are in the midst of spiritual warfare of the kind and degree we have not witnessed in a long, long time. Tragically, the Church (in this country) is to blame for much of this, but that’s another topic for another time. Right now, as Christians, we need unity among the ranks! We need to stand together and stand tall under the same one banner of Christ our Lord. We need to pray together, praise and worship together … march together!

Now is definitely not the time for petty arguments about Bible Trivia! Instead, we need to be “of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind,” (Philippians 2.2 ESV) “having unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” (I Peter 3. 8 NRSV)  We need to remember:

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4. 4-6 NRSV)

Enough of the foolish arguments and senseless disputes! And as for those who constantly engage in such, remember and follow the admonition of the Apostle: “If they continue to cause trouble after a second warning, then don’t associate with them.” Does this seem radical? Well, what would you do to, or with, an individual trouble-maker in an army … especially after repeated warnings? Because this is what we are talking about: Real war in real time in this very real world. Period.

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