From the Message
Bread Upon The Waters Ministry,
If there is one thing that characterizes the Christian world today it is differences of opinion. There are over 800 different established denominations in the United States alone, and that is not counting the many totally independent congregations. The basis for the distinctions is usually difference over doctrinal views. All this difference of opinion constitutes a serious and pervasive sin condition in the Church. One of the main reasons for the Great Tribulation is to chastise Christians for their failure to live the kind of lives they should be living in this world. The fact that they allow all this division to exist is one of their main failures.
The Issue of "Heresy"
For all their differences of opinion, modern Christians tend to be quite sensitive about the issue of "heresy", that is, the teaching of false doctrine. Or so they understand the word "heresy".
If you come down to the "nitty gritty", "heresy", in common usage, is any teaching that disagrees with the views of the person using the term! (This writer's views have actually been called "heresy" on precisely that basis! In terms of Scripture, his views cannot be called heresy in the sense of false doctrine because they do not deny or contradict any of the basic tenets of the Christian Faith. See II Peter 2:1.)
However, the Greek word ¢airesiV, from which we get the word "heresy", means "a choice of action or belief". as opposed to "a false doctrine". By implication, it basically means a belief that causes division. Therefore, a Christian can be teaching something that is perfectly acceptable in Scriptural terms, but if he is causing needless, often senseless, division by doing so, he is a heretic. Therefore, it can be truly said that we have a Church full of heretics.
In John 17:21, Jesus asked the Father for unity in the Church so that the world would believe that the Father had sent Him. In John 13:34 & 35, Jesus told His disciples to love one another so that the world would know that they were His disciples. It can be argued that one of the basic reasons why so few people believe in Jesus, relatively speaking, is the lack of unity among Christians. And this is failure on their part to "love one another".
It is this writer's conclusion, from much study of and meditation on the Scriptures, that unity in the Church and love between Christians is much more important to God than most Christians realize. The teaching of the Scripture is that we must not let our opinions get in the way of love and unity. As a brother in Christ put it, "Are your ready to love your brother enough to die to your opinions?" or, to look at it the opposite way, "Are your opinions more important to you than love and unity in the Body?" If the true answer to the first question is "no" and to the second, "yes", you are in big spiritual trouble!
None Dare Call It Treason!
When an individual takes a stand for an unpopular position, Christians don't seem to have any problem seeing that as wrong (even though the unpopular opinion may be the Scripturally correct one). But when a whole congregation or denomination takes a stand on something that needlessly separates it from other churches, few people ever openly say they are doing something wrong. This reminds the writer of a quote from Shakespeare:
Traitors never prosper. What's the reason?
If traitors prosper, none dare call it treason!
Christians who needlessly cause division within the Church are committing treason against the Church as a whole and against Christ!
Unfortunately, when truth collides with error, it does cause division. Not all division is evil. (See I Corinthians 11:18 & 19). But anyone who teaches something that causes division had better be very sure of the truth and importance of what he is teaching. And he better watch the attitude with which he teaches it!
The divisive attitude that many Christians have is something that this writer calls "doctrinal legalism". This is the attitude that says
"If you disagree with me, you aren't a Christian",
or, at least,
"If you don't believe as I do, I can't accept you and have fellowship with you as a Christian".
Or, it may say,
"If you don't agree with me, I'm a better Christian than you are".
You should be able to see that all these attitudes have the same basic sin at their root: pride! It is the "I am (or "We are") right and everyone else is wrong" ego trip. Too many Christians are on it. Entire Churches are on it. In fact, some totally independent congregations were literally founded on this ego trip. Yes, even whole denominations! Too many Christians are involved in collective ego trips. There are many congregations, ministries, fellowship groups, etc. that are that way.
Most "doctrinal legalists" have the idea that you have to have an elaborate belief structure with every doctrine right to be saved, or at least to have it together as a Christian. In fact, a variation on the attitudes mentioned above is "I (or We) know more than you do, and therefore I am (or we are) better than you." Actually, it should be obvious to anyone who really knows the Bible that there is very little you have to believe in terms of concrete doctrinal concepts to be saved. Here is what they are:
The God of the Bible exists: Hebrews 11:6
This, of course, implies believing that the Bible is the Word of God; II Timothy 3;16 & 17.
You are a sinner; Romans 3:10 & 23.
The wages (consequence) of sin is death; Romans 6:23a.
Jesus Christ died for your sins and arose from the dead; I Corinthians 15: 3 & 4, Romans 6:23b.
You must repent of your sins and be Born Again to be saved; John 3:3. Acts 2:38.
That's it in a nutshell. All these things could be typed on a 3 1/2" by 5" file card. If you think a person has to believe anything more to become a Christian, you are a doctrinal legalist! Most of what Christian's disagree about are secondary issues. If everyone has to have his doctrines right to make it into heaven, then very few Christians will make it. The Bible indicates that many will make it (See Revelation 7:9) and that in itself should tell "doctrinal legalists" that their attitude is wrong.
Of course, there is far more that a person must know and apply to his life to be an effective, mature Christian. Learning these things is part of spiritual growth. It is true, of course, that failure to learn or learning the wrong things can make a disaster of one's Christian life. But only the most serious errors could threaten a person's salvation. So what's worth arguing about?
Actually, Christians should take a stand against any error or falsehood that will cause a Christian to be fruitless or worse in his or her Christian life. But there are many things that Christians argue about that just aren't worth it.
What Isn't Worth It
The classic case of this is arguing about whether or not there is going to be a Millennium, that is, a literal 1000 year reign of Christ and the saints on earth after the Second Coming. Many Christian teachers and writers, including some on the Web, go to great lengths arguing about it. This writer believes in it, but refuses to make it a point of argument. Why? It doesn't matter! It doesn't mean anything at all to a person's maturity and effectiveness as a Christian, let alone his salvation. Arguing about it can do no real good. In fact, the only harm one's beliefs about this can do is if one makes it a point of argument and thereby creates division. The reason the Bible says so little about this issue is because it isn't important. It is important to know about the Great Tribulation, because it is going to happen to us. That's why the Bible, and the Book of Revelation in particular says so much about it. But as far as the Millennium is concerned, the Bible makes it clear that after the Second Coming, "we shall always be with the Lord" (I Thessalonians 4:17). Whatever happens will be good! So what in heaven can be gained by arguing about it?
The same thing applies, therefore to arguing about exactly what happens to Christians after they die, as some Christians do, again, going to great lengths arguing about something that doesn't matter. Didn't St. Paul tell us, "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain?" (Philippians 1:21). Please, what is there to argue about?
There are some divisive doctrinal positions that if viewed objectively can be discerned to be nothing but egotistic fault-finding. For example:
The doctrine that says that Jesus didn't actually die on a cross, but on a torture stake (and some also say a literal tree). What good could arguing about this do, even if it is right (which is unlikely). The problem with this is actually those who hold the divisive view, pointing an egotistic finger of accusation at those who hold the traditional view. That attitude is sin!
The belief, in its most extreme form, that you aren't saved unless you read only the King James Version of the Bible. What if you can't read English? What about Christians who lived before the KJV was translated? What about Christians who don't read English? Actually, there is concrete reason to believe that many modern translations are in fact better than the KJV, and that some of the people who, professing to be scholars, champion the KJV-only doctrine, are in fact seriously misrepresenting themselves.
For a scholarly treatment of this subject, see the "Moriel" Web site. Click on the link for your country, then on "Sermons" in the menu bar, and scroll down to "Bible Versions".
The particularly nonsensical belief that musical instruments should not be played in Church services. This writer has been in contact with two sects that held this view, and of course, they both had the attitude that they were better Christians than everyone else because of it. And that to the point that they obnoxiously refuse to have fellowship with Christians who do use musical instruments.
There are, of course, many other examples. This writer has had a book in his hands that condemned Christians for using hymnals! The readers must understand that there had better be solid Scriptural basis for any teaching that points a finger of accusation at anybody. Otherwise, its of Satan, not of God. "Judge not that you be not judged".
Note: there are, of course, some serious accusations pointed at the entire Church in this Web site. These are all Biblically based, and are talking about the state of the Church as a whole, rather than singling out individuals or even, for the most part, individual denominations. The purpose is not to condemn, but to warn. Christians do need to understand the times in which they live, and know what they should do. See I Chronicles 12:32.
What Is Worth It
One doctrine this writer will argue about is the issue of forgiveness, in the sense of Christians forgiving others who wrong them. The clear message of the Scriptures is that if a Christian doesn't forgive all wrongs done to him or her self, unconditionally from the heart (but not necessarily to the face), unforgiveness will make a disaster of his or her Christian life. See Matthew 18:34 & 35. This writer knows real cases in point. It may do much harm to others as well. Yet many pastors and teachers ignore this teaching, and some actually oppose it! (Again, this writer knows real cases in point.) This doctrine is worth arguing about, because of the harm that disobeying it can do.
Another example is the doctrine that teaches Christians not to expect to receive physical healing from the Lord. This lie of the devil takes hope away from Christians and actually deprives them of healing they might receive. Compare Matthew 9:20-22 with Matthew 13:58.
Yet another point of question is whether or not a Christian can be demon possessed. (Some Christians don't believe in demon possession, period, and that is unscriptural. That view is a specific form of apostasy.) This writer admits that this is debatable, but there is far more to the question than can be addressed in one sentence. However, Christians should be open to the possibility because rejecting it out of hand could keep hurting Christians from receiving deliverance that they need and potentially could have. On the other hand, it is possible to go to unscriptural extremes believing in the possibility, to the point that the basic problem of sin is effectively totally ignored. (Again, this writer knows specific cases in point.) Whatever the truth (and it apparently isn't a simple yes or no), an extreme position either way can do real harm. Christians need to be open minded and really well informed about these things.
Comparing This Problem With Other Religions
We must recognize that unless there is a truly good reason for it, all this arguing about secondary doctrinal matters is serious disobedience to God. Doctrinal differences and division had begun to manifest themselves in the Church while Paul was still preaching. His First Epistle to the Corinthians opens with a denunciation of it (1:10-17). Especially verse 13, in which he poses the question, "Is Christ divided?" No, but the Church is, and that to a catastrophic degree.
When this writer was a boy, in the process of teaching him about pagan religions, his parents told him that Hinduism is not one religion, but many; and that as a criticism of Hinduism. For Christians to say that as a criticism of Hinduism is a flagrant case, to use the old metaphor, of "the pot calling the kettle black". Not that this writer is at all sympathetic to Hinduism, but from the standpoint of the present condition of the Church (even when the writer was told that) the criticism isn't valid. The same criticism can be made against Christianity! In fact, the intensity of the strife over doctrinal differences within Christianity is generally much worse than the strife between different forms of Hinduism! One of the Biblical priorities of the Christian life is that we should be "endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace". As a rule:
We are not doing so!
Christianity Versus Islam
Of all the major religions, the one that has the most unity is Islam, which is also the most dangerous foe of Christianity - and everyone who is not a Muslim - and which is probably "Mystery Babylon". Not that the unity has been perfect; there has been plenty of Muslim blood spilled by Muslims. But on the whole they have kept together over the centuries to an amazing degree. There are only six distinct forms of Islam of any importance in the world. Compare that with the hundreds of forms of Christianity in the United States alone. Part of the reason for this is a doctrine of Islam that says in essence "There is no disagreement in Allah". Frankly, the Bible says basically the same thing in reference to Christ: we should "be of the same mind toward one another" (Romans 12:16). But there is so much disagreement, so much difference of opinion, that obeying this and similar admonitions universally is a practical impossibility. Historically, when Muslims have seen anyone teaching or practicing what they considered a serious departure from the truth, they have launched a "jihad" and put a stop to it. That, to a significant degree, is what the current resurgence of fundamentalist Islam is about.
If Christians were willing to be really obedient to God, they would be able to have real unity without there being any "jihad". This lack of unity is keeping us from fulfilling the Great Commission. It is also proof that we are in the Church of Laodicea, the "Church of People's Opinions", and it is proof that we are also the "Church of the People Judged". We are going to be rejected by Christ and we are going through the Tribulation!
What This Writer Argues About
The one secondary doctrine that this writer thinks is the most worth arguing about is what is going to happen in connection with the Second Coming of Christ. But only because there have been so many different things taught and believed about it. He is convinced that his views are more in accord with both the Bible and reality than most of what is presently being taught. Therefore, in a sense, he is doing this whole ministry to argue about it. The reason is this, and it cannot be stressed enough how serious this is: Most of what has been previously taught about this has to be wrong. Some, in fact, is sheer nonsense that has nothing to do with the Bible or reality. Some of it is giving Christians dangerously false expectations. It is the position of this writer that any Christian who hasn't heard at least the main points of the message that he is communicating is at the very best in for a terrible surprise.
We are talking about a series of cataclysmic events that will bring the world as we know it to a horrifying end. We are talking about a series of catastrophes in which more than 2/3 of the human race will be wiped out. We are talking about a period of about 6 1/2 years during which the survivors of the initial catastrophes will endure suffering that in most places will be equivalent in intensity to the suffering of the Jews during the Nazi Holocaust - or worse. Every Christian needs to know about this because the whole Church is going into it. That's why the Book of Revelation in particular, and the Bible in general, says so much about it.
It doesn't matter who a Christian hears it from. This writer is thanking God for everyone who picks up on this message and passes it on.
One of the Scripture verses that is a doctrinal pillar of this ministry is Luke 21:35, where Jesus says, "For it (The Great Tribulation) will come as a snare to all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth". That must include Christians! There is nothing in the statement or the context to suggest that it doesn't. This ministry is trying to make the snare a little less terrible for those who will listen. Christians don't need to believe the Main Message right now, except for the "Strangers and Pilgrims" part. If the Message is wrong, hearing it and not believing it won't hurt them a bit. It is Christians knowing about the Message, especially the main points, that is important right now. If it proves to be true, they will believe it well enough when it happens. Because it will be happening to them.
See also: "Who Has The TRUTH?" (Guest Page)
and "The Celebration of Christmas"
Contact Author, William D. Brehm