Do Warring Factions Mean Christianity is False?
Text: I Corinthians 11:17-22
I. You hear all sorts of excuses when you attempt to talk to others about Christianity.
A. “Well, I can’t take that Christian stuff seriously. You folk are all suppose to worship the same god, love your neighbor, and things like that, yet look at all the fighting going on between factions.”
B. I had a similar argument made to me by a couple of Mormons. “Look at Christianity, it is fractured, what, three thousand different ways? Surely this cannot be God’s doing and God’s people.”
II. It is not that the charge is without merit, there have been and are numerous infightings and fractions among those calling themselves Christian.
A. Over the centuries, Catholics and Protestants have been killing each others, sometimes with the support of the local government.
1. Even today Catholics and Protestants kill and main each other in the province of Ulster, Ireland.
B. Christianity is fractured into numerous denominations with contradictory beliefs and doctrines.
1. Even these denominations split over issues such as women priests, homosexuality, or even the literal truth of the resurrection.
C. Even among our own brethren, divisions have occurred over a variety of issues.
D. Unbelievers see Christianity in such a sorry state that it does not deserve continued existence.
III. To answer this charge, we must first recognize that it is actually two separate charges rolled up into one.
A. First is the charge that there is disputes among brethren
1. Disputes are not a new phenomenon.
a. The herdsmen of Abraham and Lot disputed over grazing land - Genesis 13:6-12. This led to Abraham and Lot agreeing to go separate ways to avoid future disputes.
b. Paul and Barnabas had a disagreement over taking John Mark with them to preach as he had left them before in Pamphylia - Acts 15:36-40
c. There was a dispute between brethren from Judea and those from Antioch over circumcision - Acts 15:1-2
d. The church at Corinth had internal disputes - I Corinthians 1:10-12
e. A dispute arose between Euodia and Syntche in Philipi - Philippians 4:2-3
2. Disputes occur among any group, it is not limited to Christians
a. Republicans disagree with Democrats
b. Marriages end in divorce
c. Singling out Christians as having occasional differences would be unfair. Christians acknowledge that we are all sinners and are imperfect.
3. There is a big difference between Christians and other groups.
a. We expect Republicans to dispute Democrats. Our system of government is actually set up to encourage such disagreements.
b. However, Christians teach that disputes among Christians is wrong!
(1) Discord is listed among the deeds of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21
(2) Proverbs 17:14 - Abandon quarrels.
(3) Proverbs 20:3 - Honor is in ending strife.
c. Instruction is given on how to solve problems between brethren
(1) Sort it out quickly, preferably that very day - Ephesians 4:26-27
(2) Seek a solution - Matthew 5:23-26
(3) Steps to take in reaching agreement - Matthew 18:15-17
(4) Disputes should be settled among brethren and not before non-believers - I Corinthians 6:1-8
4. Disputes occur, but it does mean Christianity is the cause of the disputes. It means that one or more are not following the principles laid down in God’s Holy Word.
B. The second part of the charge is that there is factions among those calling themselves Christians.
1. This, too, is not surprise as fractions occur in most groups
a. There was a faction between the Pharisees and the Sadducees.
(1) The Pharisees were a party among the Jews who placed great emphasis on the observance of rites and ceremonies. They saw themselves as superior to common people. Some of their beliefs were the immortality of the soul, the future resurrection of the body, and the existence of angels and spirits.
(2) The Sadducees drew members from the ruling class of Jewish society. They denied the possibility of a resurrection or the existence of angels and spirits
b. The Corinthian church was rebuked for the factions developing within them - I Corinthians 1:11-16
c. We see nations re-aligning borders, joining together, and then fractioning apart.
d. Division is not unique to Christians.
2. But what is important is that divisions among God’s people are condemned.
a. There should only be one body (Ephesians 4:3-6) with Christ as its head (Colossians 1:18)
b. The very term “denomination” means a dividing, a separation which should not exist.
c. God never gave approval to dividing his church.
3. If Christians followed the teachings of God, then there would be no divisions. We would be united.
a. It is the altering of God’s will that causes division because these terms of alteration are man-made.
b. If you can make a change, then why can’t I make a change. Who says your change is better than mine?
c. When many men become involved, there results many divisions.
IV. In any group of people, there will be differences of opinion and separation into “us and them”
A. The church recognizes that disputes will happen, but it condemns them and teaches how to overcome them.
B. Denominationalism is condemned as well. Those who were the name of Christ should not be dividing into splinter groups.
C. The argument against Christianity as given is a result of the bad practices of those who do not follow the true teachings of Christ. Christianity does not cause disputes and divisions, it teaches how to remove them.