Agonizomai: 1 Cor 1:10-11 - Good and Bad Splits

Thursday, February 28, 2008

1 Cor 1:10-11 - Good and Bad Splits

10-11 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers.

Paul understands that as soon as we become Christians there is never any more disagreement among us. We all think and say and do the same things. We never argue or dispute with our brothers and sisters. He knows that doctrine divides and that we are simply all to love each other and everything will be alright. Yes?...No!

Any one can take a few verses and make a case for most anything. But what would such thinkers make of what Paul says later in this same letter at 1Co 11:18-19? First Paul says here that there ought NOT to be divisions and then he calls factions necessary for the exposure of truth. Which of these statements is true? They both are.

In this context - at the very outset - Paul is addressing not the necessary existence of debate and discussion over the truth and meaning of things, but partisanship based on personalities. There is no room in Christianity for personality cults. All leaders and teachers - all apostles and prophets are saved in exactly the same way and from exactly the same thing as the least high profile of the flock. They are saved entirely by grace and from the wrath of God by the only Person worthy of worship - the Lord, their God and Saviour.

I want to reemphasize the point that these few verses cannot be taken and refashioned into a blanket condemnation of all disagreement in the church, or of any need to both discuss and defend doctrine inside the church. Liberals and postmoderns, offended as they are by even a hint of universal truth or certainty about anything, see any form of dispute as wrong and they hasten (erroneously) to passages like this using a poor hermeneutic to make them say what they do not say in the context.

The unity spoken of here is, as we shall see, unity in Christ, by the Spirit as opposed to an external unity based on loyalty, admiration or devotion to mere men.

My moniker - that's John Hancock to Americans


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