Monday, July 20, 2009


No one will ever find a fellowship where everyone agrees on the non- essentials doctrinally. There are some foundational/core beliefs that any local fellowship would need to agree upon. Things such as the nature of the scriptures, the nature of Christ, the character of God and others. But there are many about which they would have to agree to disagree agreeable. How do you live together with those lesser differences since we all know some make issues over any difference?

I love finding people who do it. I'm posting some information I've discovered about a Church that has, I believe, produced a great example of how to do it. I've deleted any chance of identifying the Church since I don't have permission. I may try and get it, I may not, but this will pass the blogging stink test for stealing material I believe.

I'll begin by showing you what they call their "Policy On Controversial Issues." It simply states......

"The people who make up__________ Church have various theological perspectives and diverse backgrounds. As ________ (our Senior Pastor) says, “We agree on enough to get the job done.” That's our policy. We do not exclude anyone on the basis of a different view on baptism, gifts of the spirit, predestination vs. freewill, or any other matter of honest theological disagreement among members of the Church. The people of___________Church are not connected because we all dot our i's and cross our ts the same theologically, but because we align ourselves with a common vision and mission as Jesus’ disciples in the city of________."

Paul again...neat huh!! The question do they pull this off? I've decided to post only one of several statements they have adopted about controversial issues that can often divide friendships if not congregations. It is a statement about the differing views of marriage generally called complementarianism and egalitarianism. It says.......

"What are the appropriate roles of husband and wife in a Christian marriage? We affirm that biblical paradigm of a God-centered, agape-oriented covenant marriage relationship. We also recognize the disagreement among evangelical Christians regarding the nature of gender roles within marriage. Some believe the Bible teaches a timeless principle of male headship, where headship is defined as the model of servant-leadership exemplified by Jesus Christ. Others believe that the idea of male headship expressed in Scripture is a culturally-conditioned teaching, and that the ideal model of marriage is that of mutual submission and leadership by gifting, within an egalitarian relationship. We believe that, when guided by the principles of agape-love and servant-leadership, either model of gender roles in marriage can serve to foster God-glorifying covenant-marriages.

To that end, we offer the following biblical challenge and encouragement.

(1) To those couples who follow the model of male headship: Husbands strive to avoid both self-centered control and worldly authoritarianism, and seek to exemplify the self-sacrificial servant-leadership demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ toward his bride, the church. Wives, strive to avoid both selfish independence or passive apathy in the marriage, and seek to exemplify the active, passionate submission that characterizes the church's love for its eternal groom, Jesus Christ.

(2) To those couples who follow the egalitarian model: Strive to avoid a marriage characterized by indecision, and seek to lead and/or follow in the various areas of your marriage as God has gifted each of you. In all things, exemplify a heart-attitude of submission toward each other, after the pattern of self-sacrificial servanthood demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ toward our heavenly Father."

Well what do you know!!. Here are some christians banded together in fellowship around a person, the Lord Jesus, and the sharing of His message, instead of a set of rules or positions on every imaginable difference of opinion theologically. Maybe koinonia IS possible in the twenty-first century Church. Just maybe.

Paul B.


Chris Ryan said...


I like what this church has to say. We can agree to disagree. One may be wrong, but both sides should practice what they preach in a Christlike manner.

The only difficulty becomes, what is central? Which doctrines are "first-tier?" There are some denominations who would say that the eucharist and baptism are of such import because they define what it means to be saved. I believe that Mohler relegates both to second tier standards. Which is right? How do we work together when we can't agree on what is "essential?"

Aussie John said...


Thank you for writing this. Solomon had such people in mind as the church you speak of.

"... Acquire wisdom; And with all your acquiring, get understanding. Prize her, and she will exalt you; She will honor you if you embrace her. She will place on your head a garland of grace; She will present you with a crown of beauty."

It seems to me that the problem behind a lot of the hot air, proof text ballons being released is that most of the loudest exponents have a problem of major proportions, if they ever knew, they have forgotten the reason we are Bible-believers.

No one becomes a Bible-believer without first being a believer in the gospel message, which loudly declares that the ONLY MEANINGFUL EXISTENCE A CONGREGATION OR AN INDIVIDUAL HAS is when the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are central.

As I read those who make the loudest blasts on most arguments I'm reminded of more wise words from Solomon,"Wisdom rests in the heart of one who has understanding, But in the hearts of fools it is made known.'

Why is it that fools like to announce the fact?

Paul Burleson said...


I can only speak for my personal choices here but I would have to know there is agreement on the REAL essentials [salvation] before I would be able to covenant together with people in a responsible way locally. This would include several beliefs that are pretty obvious for you and me.

But even here I would not separate from those who differ as if they are the enemy. In other words, were there an opportunity to speak, minister, or generally assist in some way, I would do it as part of the broader Body without fear of contamination.

I personally identify as Kingdom, then Baptist, then Southern Baptist, then Henderson Hills Baptist Church, each with differing convictional beliefs that limit me personally as to participation in a widening fashion. But that church in my post is doing it well at the local level I think.

This is inadequate I know but it is a bit of a personal guide to my wife and me as we share life with others around the reality of the Lord Jesus.

I even see this in the comment section. There are those who have, it's obvious to me, a genuine knowledge of and love for the Lord and yet are differing groups, even Catholic in some cases. I would need to evaluate my relationship with each. "Owe no man anything save to love one another" would have to be a guiding principle in it all. I think it can be done.


Aussie John,

As usual, you have come to the heart of it all with this...."No one becomes a Bible-believer without first being a believer in the gospel message, which loudly declares that the ONLY MEANINGFUL EXISTENCE A CONGREGATION OR AN INDIVIDUAL HAS is when the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are central."

That, it seems to me, is what is guiding the local group I referenced in my post. May it be true of all of us. Good stuff.

Bob Cleveland said...


I does seem a huge stretch, in a system of faith which requires we admit we're unable to save ourselves, are really unworthy of salvation, and are dependent wholly on the mercy and grace of a loving Savior, to then think that we'd personally have the only real doctrinal truth on everything, and that God would somehow tell us how everybody had to believe (beyond the express exclusivity of Jesus as a Savior).

Particularly when, in Romans 8, He also tells us we don't even know what we should pray for.

I have wonderful fellowship with my pastor, who is neither Pentecostal not Calvinistic; but as he says, "When I look at you, I don't see a Pentecostal or a Calvinist, I see a brother".


Paul Burleson said...


I've thought on several occasions that you and your pastor are great examples of this ability of fellowshipping with differences and I'm sure you guys are just a reflection of the whole church. I like that...obviously. :)

Paul Burleson said...

Further illustration that it can be done, [Fellowshipping with differing views on non-essentials.]

Years ago I was pastoring a large church and had on staff a fellow who is now pastoring in Chicago as a pastor of education. [Think shepherding] He and I had a differing opinion on the divorce and remarriage issue. He held to a biblical grounds for divorce view with inherent biblical freedom to remarry. I held to no grounds ever for divorce and no remarriage ever.

He was to preach in my absence and I ask him to deal with the passage I'd come to in 1 Corinthians that spoke of marriage. he was concerned that we disagreed on it and felt he would be disloyal to do so. I told him to state what he believed and why and remind the people I thought differently and why and tell them we both were asking them to study and decide where they might stand on it.

He did. They did.

By the way, I've come now, after better understanding of the text, to agree with the position he held back then.

This is from the "for what it's worth" department.

Bryan Riley said...

This is the way YWAM operates every day. I don't understand it but it works. Fun to read this about another fellowship.

Bobby Brown said...

How about applying some of these principles to the way we debate politics as well as our Christian beliefs.