Christian Disputes

Leon L. Combs, M.A., M.Div., Ph.D.

This era is really a strange one in which to live. The world is beating up Christians for their beliefs while simultaneously “preaching” tolerance. The virgin conception of Jesus and the actual physical resurrection of Jesus are two aspects of the basic belief platform of Christianity that receive the most abuse by the world. The world says that both occurrences are impossible and anyone who believes such is mentally unstable. Someone has said that it is not so strange that non-Christians refuse to believe the basic tenets of Christianity, but what they will believe. They won’t believe that Jesus was/is actually God, but they will believe that they are gods as some religions teach! The same people who want to kill human babies also fight to save the whales! We could go on and on with such insanities, but the strange thing that bothers me the most is what I want to briefly discuss.

The Bible teaches that the real Church has been and will continue to be at war with the world until Jesus comes again, but sometimes it seems that the biggest war is between different Christian denominations. Why do Christians want to beat up on Christians? I presume that the basic reason is the same as many problems and that is human pride. Let me be specific. Recently I heard a PCA pastor say in response to a discussion about some Christians believing that all babies go to heaven when they die (the “age of accountability” principle): “Why don’t the ones who believe such just kill their babies as soon as they are born so that they will then go to heaven for sure? Such would seem the kindest thing that they could do if they really believe that babies go to heaven when they die.” I sat there in stunned silence at such a hateful statement. Some other people there kinda smirked, but nobody else said anything. He tried to clarify his statement by saying “If they believe that everybody has to repent to believe in Jesus and that not everyone will repent, then why not just kill the babies?” So he really seemed serious in his statement and I could hardly hear anything else during the rest of the meeting.

Not long ago, I heard a Baptist pastor say “God so loved the elect that he gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life”. He said this in the pulpit while he was deriding Christians with a Calvinistic belief. What is the matter with our Christian leaders when they will make such awful statements about Christians who don’t have the same beliefs? Both “sides” will agree that Jesus Christ was/is God conceived in a virgin and that Jesus Christ was really physically crucified, died, and was literally raised from the dead. Both “sides” will also say that nobody can go to heaven on their own merits and that salvation is only possible through the life and death of Jesus Christ. Certainly the above points: Jesus is God, He was conceived in a virgin, He really physically died, He was really physically raised from the dead, salvation is only possible through the works and death of Jesus, that Jesus was fully man and fully God are all believed by both “sides”. Yet both “sides” come at each other vehemently on the points of the meaning of “elect”, “called”, “foreknowledge”, and when to baptize.

These hateful attacks are awful to see, and especially awful when they are done by ministers, those set apart to bring the Truth to their congregations. As I said, I believe that such attacks are born in pride of such people who believe that they have all of the details of Christianity perfectly understood. Yet I also believe that God addressed this problem (and I think that it is a severe problem) in the following Scripture:

Gal 5:25 “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Gal 5:26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.”

Such attacks as mentioned above are certainly boastful, challenging one another, and envying one another. So the problem of pride within the church leading to Christian bashing by Christians is a very old problem. Christians’ pride informs them that they have some aspect of the Christian walk perfectly deciphered and they then become boastful. Some Christians covet another Christian’s role in the visible Church and so he/she challenges the person occupying that role as deacon/elder/Sunday School teacher/minister or whatever. One Christian covets another Christian’s spiritual gift and the envying sets in upon the coveter. We see why Paul told the Galatians that if indeed they live by the Spirit then they must walk by the Spirit; meaning that they must put into practice what they say that they believe where they walk. Certainly we are all guilty of these offenses at some time or another in our walk in this world. But what I described above is a horrible escalation of these sins into verbal abuses against each other. All Christians must repent before God and before each other and try to stop such a behavior that must be from Hell itself for the result of a continuation of such public outcries against each other only weakens the Church and damages our witness to the world.

A long time ago, soon after I was born again, I wanted to do all that I could for God and so I became very active in the church to which I belonged. One effort I undertook was to be Chair of the Ecumenical Committee. I attended meetings in the state on this topic, interacted with other such Chairs, and tried to understand and work toward what seemed to be a wonderful goal of bringing together the various Christian denominations. However I was really being taught by the Holy Spirit and soon I began to see problems with the goals and workings of the Ecumenical Movement. For the denominations to become one, some of the beliefs of each denomination must be eliminated or changed. The problem is which of the beliefs have to be changed and how are they changed. In other words what is the basis upon which all beliefs must be judged. Of course to me the basis is the Word of God. But different denominations interpret certain Scripture differently and some denominations raise church dogma to the same level of authority as the Scripture itself.

Amazingly one of the beliefs that the Movement decided had to be moderated was the fact of exactly who Jesus was. If one denomination decided that the deity of Jesus could be held in absolute certainty then that statement was judged too harsh and had to be moderated! The Jesus Movement was/is a group that decided that they could decide who exactly the Bible was saying that Jesus was and that their decision would be accepted as fact. Since I had only recently been born again and knew that Jesus was/is God Himself and that such was undeniably a fact of real Christianity, I had to resign from the Ecumenical Movement.

There was one principle of the Movement that I thought and still think is absolutely necessary for different Christian denominations to agree to work toward. This principle is that there have to be some essential points of Christianity that must be shared before the different denominations can have Christian fellowship. Other points we can agree to disagree about, but never insult each other over (as was done in the events mentioned at the beginning of this little paper). So what are those points? Francis Schaeffer said that there are points and that there are “pernts”. A “pernt” rather sounds like a Southerner trying to say “point”, but actually the word has a real mathematical meaning. A “pernt” is an ill-defined point with a radius of uncertainty. So we Christians must decide what are Points (those items that all of us must have in agreement) and what are Pernts (those items upon which we can agree to disagree). I don’t think that such a task even sounds simple, so the development of the points and pernts is complicated and must be undertaken with supreme humility and total dependence upon the Holy Spirit.


In my opinion, it is actually fairly easy to decide upon some points. I will list some below. Remember that if someone does not agree with these points, we cannot have Christian fellowship with them. Am I saying that people who do not agree with these points are not Christians? Yes, I am for the Bible is very clear on these Points.


Well, I have not solved the problem of disunity within the visible church! Hardly a surprise! However, my hope is that I have made a point (pun intended) about the importance of studying what issues are worth a fight within the visible church. Also I hope that people will be very sensitive to what they hear other people say and to what his/her own tongues will say sometime. Spend some time now writing some more pernts and understanding how we can have more peace within the visible church. We must respect each New Testament temple:

1Cor 3:16 “Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”

Walk in the Spirit!