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A Religious Controversy | Charles E. Orr

Conversation 15

Mrs. Wiseman (at home after meeting)—This afternoon meeting was the very best meeting we have had. Oh, such wonderful truth!

Mr. Wiseman—What now? Haven’t we had the Bible all the time?

Mrs. W.—We have had the Bible but it seems like a new book to me. The minister preached on the oneness of God’s people, and I never heard such wonderful, beautiful truths. “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”* (Psalm 133:1)

Mr. W.—We are one in spirit, but of course we all have our different beliefs and opinions. Each of us has a right to his own opinions.

Mrs. W.—The Holy Spirit is given to us to guide us into all truth. If all God’s people had the Holy Spirit and were led by the Spirit he would guide them into the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Mr. W.—Do you believe that all Christians can be in one body and have perfect unity?

Mrs. W.—Yes, sir; I believe it with all my heart.

Mr. W.—Well, I’ll admit that in all our former controversies you have gotten the best of the argument, but you certainly have taken the wrong side now, and I’ll soon convince you.

Mrs. W.—If you give me the Word of God, you’ll find me easy to convince.

Mr. W.—Men are so differently constituted that it never was intended for all people to believe alike; therefore the Lord has provided different ways for people to worship. If one church doesn’t suit them, they can find one that does.

Mrs. W.—Your last remark is too true. People can find a church to suit them, no matter what they believe, but God never intended it so. He’ll save man from his sins and give him the Holy Spirit, and then he is suited with the church that Jesus built. Give me one text that upholds division.

Mr. W.—Well, I can do that because I read it just yesterday. It was in Luke. I can find it in a moment. Here it is: “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division.”* (Luke 12:51) Here Jesus says He came to give division.

Mrs. W.—You don’t think that the division here spoken of has reference to the different denominations and that Jesus has given them to suit the different beliefs of the people, do you?

Mr. W.—Well, what else could it mean?

Mrs. W.—I’m really astonished at you. He has reference to the separation salvation makes from the world. There’s division between the people of God and the world. If you’ll read the next two verses, you can plainly see.

Mr. W.—Well, I know it is utterly impossible for us all to see alike.

Mrs. W.—That may be truly said about unconverted people. Even after conversion there may for a time be differences in judgment or regarding certain Scriptures; but while there may be a lack in uniformity as to some Scripture teaching, there will always be unity of spirit and oneness in the body or church. The Spirit who brings unity also guides our minds in the study of the Scriptures until we all see and understand alike. There exists, then, in due time, uniformity as well as unity.

Mr. W.—Never! Never! That’s impossible.

Mrs. W.—It looks so to those who have not the Spirit of God to illuminate their minds, but are following their own ways. Men don’t treat other books as they do the Bible. They don’t set up their opinions about the meaning of the sayings of other books, but take them as they read, and consequently they are believed alike universally. The Bible says, “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin.”* (1 John 3:9) Why not every one believe it? It needs no (minions of men as to its meaning. Every man that has the Teacher in his own soul will believe it that way. We an all see alike.

Mr. W.—The apostle Paul and Barnabas were divided. They didn’t see alike. Now, I guess you’ll give in.

Mrs. W.—They didn’t see alike in a certain matter; but was it pertaining to anything doctrinal? Barnabas desired to take Mark with them, and Paul thought best not to do so. It was not on any of the teachings of Jesus that they differed. When we hold to different doctrines and different ways in which to worship God, as much as to say, “You can go your way, and I’ll go mine,” then we’re divided, and the apostle Paul condemns such division.

Mr. W.—Now, Sarah, I won’t give up this matter so easily. It’s true that the difficulty between Paul and Barnabas wasn’t doctrinal and that your explanation of that matter is good, but wasn’t the difficulty between Paul and Peter, which is mentioned in Galatians, second chapter, on a doctrinal matter?

Mrs. W.—Yes, James; it was. You’ll remember that I said I would be easily convinced that divisions are good if you would show me from the Bible that they are necessary. You’ll remember, too, that I believe unity may exist while for a time all do not agree on certain doctrines. In this instance the contention between Paul an Peter was quite sharp, but they didn’t separate and establish independent companies of followers. Paul simply and clearly, as well as forcibly, explained the truth of his position, and sent his epistle to all the churches in Galatia. You might think at first that Peter was offended because Paul so widely published that he (Peter) was wrong on this point of doctrine. But Peter wasn’t offended; nor did he try to get those into a company by themselves who believed as he did. He took a very different course. He also wrote a letter for the benefit of all the churches everywhere. In his letter he spoke of “our beloved brother Paul”* (2 Peter 3:15) and certain things “hard to be understood,”* (2 Peter 3:16) which things, he said, those who were unstable wrested and twisted, as they did other scriptures. So you see that Peter, against whom the trouble came, recommended Paul and his writings, and that, after all, this is an example of unity for us to follow. Sectarianism is certainly bad and unscriptural.

Mr. W.—You always have some way to get out; but we know there always have been divisions and there always will be. Our pastor admitted that divisions were evils, but said they were necessary evils.

Mrs. W.—He spoke the truth when he said they were evils, but not so when he said they were necessary evils.

Mr. W.—There needs to be different ways, so that all men can be reached. Those whom one church can not reach can be reached by another.

Mrs. W.—Jesus said, “And I, if I be lifted up… will draw all men unto me.”* (John 13:32) We have to lift up Jesus only, and not some creed. Jesus is the only way. He prayed that we all might be one. Let me read you a few verses from the blessed Bible: “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.”* (John 17:20-21) You say that divisions are needed in order that different people may be reached, but instead of reaching them the divisions are causing many to disbelieve in Jesus. If all the professed Christians were really Christians in the oneness of the Father and Son, what power they would be for Jesus! In unity there is strength.

Mr. W.—That looks very nice, I know, but you know that all Christians can’t worship together, because we can not possibly see alike.

Mrs. W.—You keep repeating this, and it does look that way to you, no doubt; but get saved, and you’ll see it differently. Let me read you the next verse: “And the glory which thou gayest me I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one.”* (John 17:22) You see the extent of the unity.

Mr. W.—But do you mean to say that we should all believe alike?

Mrs. W.—Let me read you what the Bible says: “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing.”* (1 Corinthians 1:10) But alas! the professed people of God are not doing that. One preacher is saying that sprinkling is the mode of baptism, another that it is immersion, another that three dips is the Bible way, and still another that there’s no water baptism at all. One says we must live without sin; another says we must sin more or less. One says there are two works of grace, another there are three, another there is but one, while another says there is no such thing as heart-felt religion. Oh, how shameful! It’s so dishonoring to God. The apostle beseeches them by the name of the Lord Jesus Christ—Him who gave His life that all might be one—that they all speak the same thing.

Mr. W.—I never knew before that that was in the Bible—“all speak the same thing”—let me see your Bible.

Mrs. W.—Here’s yours; you can read it in your Bible.

Mr. W.—“Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing.” Well, well, is it possible?

Mrs. W.—Read on.

Mr. W.—“And that there be no divisions among you.”

Mrs. W.—In the margin you will see it says “schisms.”

Mr. W.—What is meant by “schisms”?

Mrs. W.—It means parties or sects, caused by people believing different doctrines. But you haven’t read it all yet.

Mr. W.—“But that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”* (1 Corinthians 1:10) Is it possible?

Mrs. W.—Yes, thank God! it’s possible. But I must now attend to my household duties, and we’ll talk more of this later.

Mr. W. (speaking to himself)—I never read such before. I thought sure I’d have no trouble in confounding her on that subject, but I couldn’t think of anything that was solid and couldn’t be overthrown. I hardly know what to do. I almost believe she’s right, but how can I acknowledge it?