Tuesday, December 09, 2014


Titus 3:19

“Warn a divisive [hairetikos which means “heretic” in Greek.] person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them.” [NIV]

It seems to me that there a divisive attitude, maybe even anger, among Christians in our day about doctrinal issues that are not the gospel at all. Truth perhaps, but secondary truth to what is our basis of unity which is the gospel of Christ alone. 

I want to make some simple statements that I believe contain a few things that are often forgotten under the disguise of theological correctness.

1___We do not find anything in the text of scripture that allows for division or separation among believers over matters of general theology by charging them with being a heretic.

The word heresy, comes from the Greek hairesis, which means "division." This means that the noun, hairetikos refers to a "divisive person." [See text above]

So when Paul instructed Titus to reject a “heretic,” he meant to reject anyone set on creating disunity. Even then, the heretic was to be given two chances to repent from his divisive ways. [See text]

Heresy then, as biblically defined, is not a matter of wrong theology. Even what might be considered correct theology in the hands of a “divisive person” would cause the person to be deemed heretical biblically speaking. "Division" itself is the "heresy" warned about in the Bible.

This means that we must always remember that regardless of what we believe about…Scripture, creation, salvation, justification, baptism, spiritual gifts, God’s sovereignty, man’s free will, five points of Calvinism, the Church Universal or local…we have been commanded to remain united as believers. Our unity is around the gospel of Christ alone.

I repeat… The Bible never allows for division among believers over matters of theology.

2__The true gospel can be said to be certain things concerning Jesus Christ. 

If we look carefully those things that make up the gospel could be compiled into these five statements about Christ...

a_Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God (Matthew 16:16–18; John 20:31; 1 John 2:22–24; 5:1).

b_Jesus came to earth in the flesh (1 John 4:1–3).

c_Jesus is a descendant of David (2 Timothy 2:8).

d-Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and was raised on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1–4).

e_Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:9; 1 Corinthians 12:3; Philippians 2:11).

All five of these statements are presented multiple times throughout the New Testament, but are clearly summarized and labeled as the “gospel” in the beginning of Paul’s epistle to the Romans seen here...

“This gospel (1)he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, concerning his Son (2)who was a descendant of David (3)with reference to the flesh, (4)who was appointed the Son-of-God-in-power according to the Holy Spirit by the resurrection from the dead, (5)Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 1:2–4, NET)

I repeat… The true gospel can be said to be certain things concerning Jesus Christ

3__The Bible does encourage ultimate separation from false teachers who preach another gospel.

Paul wrote that “even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8–9, ESV).

To be thoroughly biblical, we must limit our criteria for separating from people to be false teachers who teach a false gospel. While it is true that they can be identified primarily by their lifestyles, (see Matthew 7:15–20 and 2 Peter 2:14–19) they are also revealed as false teachers by their message of proclaiming a different Jesus. It is their different message about Jesus that makes for a false gospel and a false teacher.

Ray Stedman said it this way,  “The true gospel calls us back from following men to the Person of Christ and His cross. The cross of Christ cuts across all human value systems. It wipes out all the petty theological distinctions that men make among themselves. The cross strips away our illusions and brings the pride of men tumbling down from that high place where it exalts itself against the knowledge of God.”

This all makes me wonder if ‘Statements of Faith” might not do more harm than good seeing that so many people choose to dis-fellowship with others over ever imaginable doctrine. It isn’t “theological correctness” that is to unify us but “gospel correctness.”

I repeat… The Bible does encourage ultimate separation from false teachers who preach another gospel. 

Perhaps we should learn to say as Paul did, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it [and it alone] is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew and then to the Gentile.” [NIV] 

If we fellowship around this message then we can enjoy each other’s company even if we disagree on___well__you get the picture I’m sure.

Paul B. 


Aussie John said...


As usual, solid gold!

" Our unity is around the gospel of Christ alone."

Such a simple, but profound statement, but absolutely true!!

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J,

This is a little thing I put on my Facebook page and the response was so positive I decided to put it here as well. Thanks for the comment and Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Rex Ray said...


I believe there may be as many opinions of “theological correctness” as opinions of “gospel correctness.”

Many years ago, the ‘conservative resurgence’ argued the glue that held Baptists together was doctrine and required all employees to sign their BF&M 2000.

Their opposition argued the glue was missions and stayed with the BF&M 1963.

These folks got the slanderous name of ‘Moderates’, although in my opinion, they were the true Conservatives

Bob Cleveland said...

I am forced to ponder many points when topics like this arise. A few:

Are humans limited in their ability to comprehend .. to wrap their minds around .. the entirety of Scripture?

If so, was Jesus aware of that?

Does His command to be one still apply?

If one agrees with those points, it must be true that we can, indeed, have unity despite theological differences. That leads me to conclude that our unity is to be on something other than the correctness of doctrine.

He talked enough about His being in us, and our being "in Him", to persuade me that He is to be the common element.

It seems ironic that the 2000 BF&M takes a pretty good step back from knowing Him as a person. No wonder we're seeing disunity on a par with the CR, albeit I was oblivious to all that.