Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The blame game

One thing I've been thinking about is where the blame lies for the current state of factionalism in Christianity. As a parent, I don’t tolerate my children blaming someone else for their own unloving actions. “He started it,” I hear. When I follow up on the story, I usually find out a little more than I wanted to know about the ability of children to think like lawyers, and present the facts as skillfully as any defense attorney.

But my children also know the response they will get from me. I always point back to their God-given responsibility for their own behavior, regardless of who “started it.”

Who is alive today that actually caused the divisions around us? When it comes to spearheading a split and causing a division, very few people are actually alive who made things the way they are right now. So the rest of us either have the choice of being caretakers of the factionalism or peacemakers to mend it. And I'm not talking about a mending of an institutional or organizational faction, but a mending of individual relationships with brothers in those factions.

It is a logical fallacy (often called the fallacy of division) to attribute to a part the attributes of the whole. In other words, not all members of a faction or division are factional or divisive. It is possible (and given the long history of most factional debates, likely) that the people alive today meeting under the auspices of those factions are simply clueless to the original issues surrounding the division, and hold no animosity toward "the other side."

It is our job, acting as individuals, to behave in a Christlike manner toward our brothers and sisters in Christ, no matter what faction they consider themselves a part of--even if we feel they are mistaken on some doctrinal interpretation. We ought to be out to unite individuals, not organizations. Only when individual Christians are united in their love for the Lord will the organizations they are a part of be reformed or reduced to rubble, and their now-disparate opinions become more and more as one.

There's no point in blaming dead people for the divisions that exist today. We only have ourselves to blame if we are caretakers of their factional debates. If I still have a strong opinion about those old issues, I can breathe a sigh of relief that I can continue to hold my opinion without rejecting my brethren.

    Romans 14:19 - Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. (NKJV)
Amen and amen!

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