It saddens me somewhat, as a brief glance to the top left of this blog will confirm, that the most read post (rather more unfortunately headed by Blogger as ‘most popular’) is one about some controversy surrounding Peter Masters, the Metropolitan Tabernacle and two-stage separation. Sadder still is my suspicion the post gained this accolade because it happens to mention the name of an individual at the centre of a widely discussed issue. No doubt ardent supporters read the post, based predominantly on the name mentioned, to get affronted on behalf of the individual regardless of the issue presented. Likewise, unerring critics, on the basis of the name, read it to get irritated at the latest act of offence.
In light of that post, I would like to offer four related articles dealing with the issues of separation, division, discussion and learning in the church:
Dr Master’s and Two-Stage Separation – From the Martin Marprelate blog, another take on Peter Master’s two-stage separation policy.
“There is no doubt that separation from wickedness and apostasy is a command of God, but, ultimately, every church and every Christian is going to have to come to their own minds about Second-Stage separation. For my part, I cannot separate from my faithful brethren within the mixed denominations who are holding onto Biblical convictions in the midst of such deep darkness. I believe that such people need our support and understanding and that we should stand together, ‘Holding fast the word of life’ (Phil. 2:16).”
A Warning Against Division – R.C. Sproul offers a warning from reformation history concerning division within the church.
“I don’t know of anybody who’s a greater fan of Martin Luther than I am. But one of the low points of the Reformation took place in 1529 when an attempt was made to unify the Reformers of Switzerland and the followers of Luther in Germany.”
How Do We Learn From the Idiot in the Room – Mez McConnell offers helpful advice for learning from those who do not come from our theological or ecclesiastical stable.
“Some people are so frustrating and annoying. That is a fact of life. It is unavoidable. Even the most sanctified and patient of us struggle with difficult people (just ask my wife). There is a danger though and it is this. Sometimes we hear something about another Christian or a leader and we make up our minds about them before we’ve met. Personally, my inner defenses always shoot up when I meet somebody I’ve never met for the first time and they say, “I’ve heard about you”. Sometimes, if I’m going to a meeting with a person I know is going to be difficult I steel myself to ‘just get through it unscathed’. It’s an ongoing war within my soul and I have to pray hard for love and forebearance. Sadly, it means that very often we miss out on learning something because of these (very often unspoken) prejudices.”
How to Mentor Young Disciples When They Differ Theologically – Andrew Davis at The Gospel Coalition blog offers some helpful suggestions for mutual learning and discipleship.
“what happens when the men you are training up to be pastors and elders begin to develop differing theological opinions? How should a pastor approach these disagreements?”