Unity in Diversity Error
Even though you soberly warn people of the dangers which are down the road that they are traveling, even though you tell them over and over what the consequences of their doctrinal choices will be, even though you fervently plead with them to realize that they are being deceived, even though you remind them of the vivid history of digression that cries out for them to examine and evaluate the path which they have chosen to walk, it is clearly obvious that many will absolutely refuse to look at the evidence and refuse to open their eyes to the apostasy that they, without any hesitation, seem to have bought in to - hook, line, and sinker! Indeed they choose to remain blind and they willfully refuse to open their eyes to see! Our frustration is almost beyond bearing when we see our own brethren in Christ, many of them the loved ones of our own families, who are not willing to listen to warnings or open their eyes to see the precipice of sin and digression which is only steps away from where they are walking.
Such is the issue of continuous and on-going fellowship with error and those who propagate and practice it! We have pleaded with brethren for years about the terrible consequences of the "unity in diversity" philosophy. We have filled their ears with constant warnings about what their current positions will eventually cause them to accept and embrace, but our warnings and pleadings have so often fallen upon eyes and ears which are not at all receptive to our efforts.
One of the favorite positions that these brethren are holding is the affirmation that I can fellowship a person who teaches soul damning error - just as long as I don't receive his error and don't permit him to teach that error in my presence - or in the congregation where I worship! As long as you let him know that you "disagree with him", this releases you to continue to fellowship him and to also permit him to teach in your presence and in the congregation where you worship, just as long as he promises not to teach his soul damning error when he is there. If he wants to preach and teach it "somewhere else", and if he wants to encourage individuals to believe and practice it "somewhere else", this does not prevent him from preaching and teaching with you and it does not prevent you from fellowshipping him, just so he doesn't teach his sinful error where you are! As totally amazing as it may seem, we are being told by a great many of our own brethren that you can continue your fellowship with him on this basis.
Brethren, this scenario is what "unity in diversity" is all about! It is the appalling and pitiful excuse which our own brethren are using to maintain a continuous and never ending fellowship with those who are responsible for people being lost! Now, mind you, these brethren must first do a lot of "redefining" of terms and invent their own definitions for such terms as error, false teacher, fellowship, autonomy, and who knows what else. This is obviously being done in order to "justify" their fellowship with unscriptural teaching and practice, but, the reality of the whole situation is that they willfully choose to remain blind to the Truth and continue to "do just what they want to do"!
A number of months ago, I attended a Bible discussion on fellowship which involved a sizeable group of brethren, most of whom were men who profess to preach the gospel. One of these preachers, who is from our area, stated that he had worked with another preacher at one time who took the position that Matthew 19 did not apply today because it was under the Old Testament, and he was contending that they got along fine and that they worked well together. (Please note that this is basically the "one covenant" doctrine which has permitted the fellowship of adulterous marriages in non-institutional churches, or else it is the doctrine which says that the New Testament begins with the book of Acts.) He had also made the point in the meeting that his fellowship with brother Homer Hailey was for the truth that he taught and not for the error that he taught.
After the general meeting was concluded, I was standing and listening to a conversation between this same preacher and another preacher from our area. In that conversation, the same brother who said that he worked well with the brother who taught error on Matthew 19 and who said that his fellowship with Homer Hailey was for the "truth" he taught and not for the "error" which he taught, was asked how he could reconcile his position with 2 John 9-11, "Whosoever goeth onward and abideth not in the teaching of Christ, hath not God: he that abideth in the teaching, the same hath both the Father and the Son. If any one cometh unto you, and bringeth not this teaching, receive him not into your house, and give him no greeting: for he that giveth him greeting partaketh in his evil works." Yes, he was then plainly asked how he could receive one who did not bring the teaching of Christ, since the scripture says to "receive him not" and to "give him no greeting" (bid him Godspeed). He replied that he would receive him for the Truth which he preached, but not for the error which he preached. So his contention was that this person who taught and practiced error could preach where he was a member just as long as he didn't preach his error, and he could be fellowshipped because he was teaching only the Truth on that occasion. He also contended that this same preacher would not be allowed to preach on that occasion if he was going to teach his error. When it was pointed out to him that 2 John 9-11 does not say anything about receiving him for the Truth that he preaches and not for the error he preaches, but that this scripture clearly says that "If any one cometh unto you and bringeth not this teaching" that you are not to receive him! He was then pointedly asked, How can you receive him? His answer was, "Some of us have found a way"! Yes, brethren, I heard this with my own ears! As shocking as this brother's admission was, I must admit that he was much more straightforward than most any of our other "unity in diversity" brethren are willing to be. He told the plain and honest truth - this is what I want to do and this is what I am going to do, even though the Word of God condemns such a practice! The sad reality is that this brother will continue to influence brethren to follow blindly down the path of continuous and on-going fellowship with men who teach and encourage the practice of soul-damning error.
The terrible consequence of this false and disrespectful handling of God's Truth was brought close to home again, just a few months back, from a newspaper article which appeared in the February 22, 2003 issue of the Tampa Tribune. The heading of the article said, "Candidate Redner To Speak At Church Service Sunday". You see, Joe Redner was running for the city council in Tampa and he is most prominent in this area for operating numerous "nude" bars and clubs and has been arrested more times than many care to count. The article further states that he is "an avowed atheist as well as in the sex business". The "Walls International Church" has been at odds with Redner over a law requiring nude dancers to stay six feet away from the customers, but they had now decided to invite him to speak in their services. The article states that he will "tell the congregation that failing to vote cedes the elections to special interests." Now brethren, all of this information is provided to let you know exactly what consequences are inherent in the "unity in diversity" doctrine. The administrator of the above church, Jennifer Mallan, states, "Obviously, the pornography issue is something we don't embrace" "But that doesn't mean we don't embrace the person"! Yes, you got it! You do understand that, don't you? Some of our brethren are operating under this same sort of philosophy - embrace the person for the Truth which he preaches but not for the error (sin) that he teaches and upholds! Would you find it acceptable to "embrace" (fellowship) a brother who taught that pornography and nudity were acceptable practices for Christians - just as long as he didn't preach it or practice it in your presence or where you worship? Maybe, just maybe, "Some of us have found a way"!
Now, brethren, don't get all bent out of shape - please hear me out! We find brethren saying that we can fellowship those who teach that God didn't really create the earth in six literal days and that it had to be done by way of the "big bang theory". We have brethren saying that you couldn't prove that polygamy was wrong as long as the civil law doesn't forbid it. We find brethren saying that we can fellowship those who teach that we can keep any wife we have when we become a Christian, no matter how many times we were divorced and remarried without scriptural cause. We have brethren saying that 1 Corinthians 7 provides a "second" cause, other than fornication, for divorce and remarriage. We have brethren who are saying that the one guilty of fornication as well as the innocent one may be free to remarry and remain in full fellowship. We find brethren saying that we can readily fellowship those who don't hold the Truth in some "moral and doctrinal matters". We have brethren who say that we can fellowship those who teach that Matthew 19 and Matthew 5 are just a part of the "one eternal covenant" and that God's law of marriage for us today is really found in Deuteronomy 24. And the list goes on and on! Surely we ought to be able to "find a way" where a little bit of nudity and pornography could be tolerated along with all of the above! Maybe, just maybe, "Some of us have found a way"! And maybe we could just "find a way" to maintain a continuous and never ending fellowship with those who teach and practice that social drinking and dancing are acceptable for Christians, or that gambling, taking illegal drugs, immodest dress, or sexual promiscuity need to be overlooked! Do you suppose that there are brethren who would like to "find a way" to be accepting of those who advocate any or all of these? When you make it acceptable to "find a way", the opportunities to fellowship those who advocate and practice most any kind of worldliness is almost endless! When it is made acceptable to "find a way" to maintain an on going fellowship with those who teach soul damning error, then the flood gate is open to teach just about whatever you want to teach and remain in full fellowship (that is, of course, if you teach it "somewhere else"). Surely then we should be able to work just a "tiny bit" of nudity and pornography into this scenario! We don't have to "embrace the sin" which a brother advocates and practices, all that we are going to do is just to "embrace the person". Isn't it amazing what we can learn from our denominational neighbors! "Unity in Diversity" is alive and flourishing! But, don't forget, he just can't teach or practice his sinful error in my presence or where I worship! And with all of this "redefinition" of autonomy and fellowship, we are being told that it doesn't really matter what he does "somewhere else" and it is really none of your business what he does "somewhere else", just as long as he is not a member where you worship or that he doesn't teach his soul damning error when you have him come for a meeting! These brethren seem "ecstatic" to have now discovered that the "unity in diversity" doctrine permits and justifies you to "embrace the person" while you don't "embrace his sinful teaching and practice"! Now brethren, if this is not enough to cause you to have a good case of "spiritual nausea", then possibly you will fit in well with those whom we describe as, "None So Blind As Those Who Will Not See"!
No, brethren, we cannot fellowship or tolerate "nudity" or "pornography" and we cannot receive anyone who advocates or practices such! But, if we are so blind that we cannot see that this demonstrates a clear example of the ultimate consequence of "unity in diversity", then we need a great deal more help than this little article can provide.
No, brethren, we cannot have fellowship with anyone who is associated with either teaching or practicing iniquity - no matter who they are, no matter where they live, and no matter where they worship or where they preach! We cannot receive him when he doesn't bring the teaching of Christ (2 John 9-11), and we cannot fellowship him when he disregards scriptural warnings and continues to be involved in the unfruitful works of darkness (Ephesians 5:1-14)! Yes, you got it! You understand that, don't you? But will you accept it as the truth or will you decide to "find a way" to justify the fellowship of false teachers and sinful practices?
Yes, indeed, there are "None So Blind As Those Who Will Not See"! It is our sincere hope and prayer that our brethren who are going down this treacherous path will be awakened before they find themselves facing our God who is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:28-29). Isn't it wonderful that God's Truth is so plain and simple to the "honest and good heart" of the one who truly wants to know, love, and respect God's Word (Luke 8:15). Do you and I have the readiness and courage to receive the Word and then reflect it in what we teach and practice? Is the Lord able to say of us, "Blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear"? (Matthew 13:15-16).