On Conflicting Teachings and Dissimilar Views Within the Church
A letter to my children,
Loren Harder, 7/4/2003
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (liberty).
- 2 Cor. 3:17
But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all
- John 16:13.
ďIn essentials, unity. In non-essentials liberty. In all things,
- John Wesley
Nowhere is the Spirit of liberty more noticeably present or absent
than in the consideration of ideas that impact our views on spiritual
matters. If that liberty is present, we can soar to new heights of
understanding while trusting a faithful God to protect us from false
interpretations. On the other hand, if that liberty is missing, our
pursuits of learning and growth can become exercises in fear and
cynicism. An increasing awareness of God and his purposes for his
creation should inspire in us awe, gratitude and a desire to joyfully
share the treasures weíve discovered. If our learning and discovery
instead prompt arguments, defensiveness and broken fellowship, then
the liberty of God is not there, and chances are good, neither is His
I want you to study God as He has revealed Himself through both His
Word and his Creation. Being a good student doesnít mean picking a
safe source of information and copying it to your mind like you would
a computer file. Being a good student means acknowledging God alone
as your Ultimate Teacher and keeping your mind open to any
means by which He might choose to instruct you. God will surprise and
amaze you with the depth and variety of instructors in His
University. You will also be amazed, and perhaps dismayed at first
by something else. Some of these instructors hate each otherís guts!
The field of Christian apologetics is especially threatening to Satan
and his kingdom. It should be no surprise that he has worked hard to
undermine it. He has succeeded in sowing seeds of discord among those
laboring in this field. You must not be caught up in that discord.
You must learn to recognize slander and rivalry in ministries and not
be poisoned by them. Slander, when believed, will cheat you out of
blessings from God.
Imagine youíre in college. Youíve signed up for a course that sounds
really interesting and will really help fill some gaps in what youíve
already learned. Then you hear something bad about the professor and
decide to cancel that class. After itís too late to re-enroll, you
find the accusation was false and you begin hearing about all the good
things youíre missing.
But what if two teaching ministries are at odds with each other. In
fact, they each say bad things about the other. You have to choose
between them, right? They couldnít both be Godís servants could
they? God hates discord among his children but he can use even that
for your good. Let me illustrate:
Letís say God has 7 truths he wants you to learn. Teacher A has 4 of
them. His archenemy, Teacher B has 3. By refusing to join either side
of their petty war of bickering, you get all 7. The Holy Spirit was
your true teacher because you would have never known which seven were
right without Him.
Now letís say you approach these feuding teachers without humbly
asking for Holy Spirit discernment. You listen to Teacher A blast
away at Teacher Bís incompetence and dubious motives. You listen to
Teacher B whine about how Teacher A misconstrues everything he says.
After much thought, you decide to join the A camp because they have a
better mascot and more rousing fight songs. You soak in everything
Teacher A says and wind up with the same 4 truths and 3 errors and
various bad attitudes as your teacher.
God has better for you. He offers to lead you into all truth.
(He offers better for those teachers too if they will quit fighting
and treat each other with love and humility.) You might also consider
this: Which kind of student is more likely to help reconcile those two
teachers: one who joins a camp or one who respectfully considers each
I want you, my dear children, to be sound in doctrine, ready to defend
the gospel and always growing in the knowledge of God. Please stay
away from all slander. Read what James says about teaching, slander
and wisdom in James ch. 3.
Christians should have the most creative and curious minds on the
planet. Liberty to explore many ideas and possibilities should be the
hallmark of a Christian. The reason for that liberty is that Scripture
and the Holy Spirit protect us from lies. If we try to protect
ourselves we will become cynical, suspicious and deceived.
I am thrilled to see your loyalty to God and His Holy Word. Your
enemy, Satan would like to twist that loyalty into a religious
spirit. Listen to my warnings and donít let him do it! Do not keep
company with Christians who denounce other Christians. Never stay
under the teaching or leadership of anyone who insists you must adopt
their teachings without first taking as long as necessary to let God
speak to you about it. Never let anyone tell you that you are a
compromised or ineffective Christian if you remain without opinion
regarding a matter not essential to salvation.
If you are warned against a teaching, a ministry or an
individual, take that warning seriously, but pray for the Holy
Spiritís confirmation of that warning just as you would pray for
confirmation regarding a recommendation. There is both deception and
fear mongering in the Body of Christ. Only the Word and the Holy
Spirit will help you sort through it all.
Finally, speak up for truth, but do so with Godís words, Godís love
and Godís timing. As for your own opinions, remember this: if they
were that important, God would have put them in the Bible!
I will always love and pray for you, I am always willing to talk
about, or listen to, anything,