Philippians Two: Denominational Discord and Humility

Posted: February 1, 2012 in Philippians

In the first part of this chapter, Paul encourages the believers in Philippi to be more humble, to follow the lead of Jesus, who was humble enough to leave His place in Heaven to put on human skin like one of us. I don’t know if you’ve been following the mess known as the Elephant Room 2, but in the aftermath we’re seeing a lot of dissent among evangelical leaders, some lines being drawn in the sand.

I’m tired and having difficulty formulating my thoughts, but I’m sitting here wondering how many denominations wouldn’t exist had we as the Church practiced the humility that we’re supposed to, if we truely “counted others more significant than ourselves.”

Here is my train of thought. Go back to the early days of the Church, when everyone was gathered in unity (I know- hard to picture, right?). How did we go from that to hundreds of denominations? Theological disagreement. Or perhaps more specifically, disagreement that wasn’t handled right. Think about it. You’ve got 99 people believing that “A” is the proper understanding of God’s Word, and here comes Joe Theologian who believes that “B” is right. Suppose he’s eaten up with pride. What does he do? Argue his position endlessly until two camps are formed, half in favor of “B”, half siding with “A”. In time the same thing happens with both groups over different issues. Now we have groups “A”, “B”, “A1”, and “B1”. Continue this for 2000 years, and voila! Look at us now.

But…what if Joe Theologian spoke privately with the Church leaders about his difference in theology? What if he had respected the authority of the Elders put into their position by God and had agreed to disagree over their interpretation, but still respectfully chose to humbly keep his opinion to himself? Why…would we even have different denominations now, or would we have retained the doctrinal purity that we started out with?

Nevertheless, Pandora’s box was opened, and now we can side with error or confront it, resulting in more splits within the Church. At least when done right, it can result in people getting back on track. If it’s done right. Much easier said than done.

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