Charles Hodge Jr. who for many years wrote articles “From the banks of Onion Creek” wrote one of the most challenging articles I have read. It is not easy… it is not simple…. and it is not for the ‘not-open-to-thinking’ type person. It is for the one who is objective and willing to think about what has for many years been an on-going problem.
To put it succinctly, we have a problem with differences.
Hodge, who’s writing is always challenging and just different also speaks to this attitude. He has (again) managed to put more thought into fewer words than any I know. This is an article I found in one of dad’s TUD schedule books. (There were two places where tape had been removed and it made some words difficult if not impossible to see. These are marked here with brackets. I have tried to fill in with the train of thought… but this is not always easy.)
“One-Up-man-ship! Repulsive, divisive, destructive! The (illegible) of preachers to always be “Top Dog”…”always quick to put others down. The end of what would have been great friendships, relationships. The “know-it-all”, the “I am right and you are wrong.”… “I deny anything you affirm”… “I will win all at any price.” … the aggressive, radical, (illegible), infallible, orthodox!
Pathetic! What one small circle! The mind is “closed up”. Others cannot be listened to,… others cannot be allowed to express themselves…. others cannot disagree or question. Dogmatic, contentious, abrasive, “One-upmanship”. So many wives have to live with such! So many churches have to put up with such!
How pathetic! Said folks must always be right — there is no margin for ignorance or mistake. They must be the highest authority (illegible) and all subjects. Actually, they consider themselves infallible All others are suspect. They remove risk from themselves — the privilege to (illegible), to grow, to (illegible), to fail, to be wrong, to be human. “Sit down, (illegible) and listen to me. Communication is a “One Way Street”. Said folks must (always) be right.
(Theirs) is a precarious existence. Isolated from friends and family and brethren- yea, isolated from reality and self. How heavy the (burden) of men who become their own god! REPENT! And join the human race.”
There is always a great, great need for all Christians to keep a close watch on attitudes and how we deal with others in the body of Christ. We need to come together on some basic facts. 1.) We are brethren – family, because of the work and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. 2.) This is not determined by everyone agreeing on every single thing, while agreeing on some basic core beliefs. 3.) Fellowship is something given by God as He adds those who come to Christ (born again). “Fellowship” is a noun not a verb. (Acts 2:38-47). 3.) We need to be open to studying, searching, and discussing the scriptures… and be willing to accept truth within the context. 4.) We need to encourage questions and discussions in our bible Classes…and listen to each other… even if we have differing views… which should be open for discussion and comparison with the scriptures. 5.) We need to always love each other and sometimes even just agree to disagree… but unless one denies some basic, foundational truth… consider them brethren. 6.) We need to refuse to be part and partial to ANY EFFORTS TO DIVIDE THE CHURCH. While understanding the warning of Paul to ‘mark’ or avoid those who promote division… (Romans 16:17).
Extremes more often than not, lead to a misunderstanding of truth. Dad encouraged as do I, that we should strive for BALANCE in our understanding of scriptures. To focus on a cup, rather than the contents, and the principles taught is to miss the point. To focus on the act of washing feet as an “act” which must be done… is to miss the teaching that to have the heart of Jesus means having the heart of a servant on an on-going basis.
These are just some suggestions, which I know are incomplete…. which I have probably mentioned elsewhere on this site. Some may not agree with me here, but I know that unless we learn about grace and how to apply it’s principles… we will continue divide and hurt each other. As Hodge said, “We need to grow up” as Christians…
How did Jesus deal with his disciples? Much differently than we deal with each other. Let’s grow….