When Christians Misinterpret, Argue, Debate, Or Try To Reason With Each OtherI have read comments by a number of Christians now saying that arguing is not from God, and thus insinuating that if someone disagrees with another to the point there is debate, one of those will be considered unChristian, and that to some degree is true, but which one are they going to judge ungodly, since they are setting themselves up to judge a brother or sister? God's people have been arguing, misinterpreting, reasoning and debating one another throughout the entire bible, and if I need to cite instances, I'm fully prepared to do just that!
Let's start with Joshua; Joshua and the tribes. "And when they came unto the borders of Jordan, that are in the land of Canaan, the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh built there an altar by Jordan, a great altar to see to. And the children of Israel heard say, 'Behold, the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh have built an altar over against the land of Canaan, in the borders of Jordan, at the passage of the children of Israel.' And when the children of Israel heard of it, the whole congregation of the children of Israel gathered themselves together at Shiloh, to go up to war against them." (Josh. 22:10 - 12). You can find this in your bibles and read the entire chapter and understand what I'm saying is true. 9 1/2 tribes on one side of the Jordan heard a rumor, made up the worst in their mind of the 2 1/2 tribes who built the altar, and created a misunderstanding of the intent of the altar to the detriment of the entirety of God's people. Talk about bearing false witness against your neighbor! The 9 1/2 tribes were ready to kill the 2 1/2 tribes without even getting the whole story! Fortunately, the investigation headed by Phinehas resulted in the truth being made known that the altar built by the 2 1/2 tribes was not for idolatrous purposes! But to the point, would you call ready to go to war worse than an argument, and this was between God's people! Is it any different than two Christians today arguing over a biblical issue? I think it's worse! It seems no different to me than one Christian going over the another Christian's house with gun in hand because they think the other Christian committed a serious crime against God! Anyway, this is a case of godly people misinterpreting each other.
Hannah and the priest Eli had an exchange of words, and it was as a mild misinterpretation of Hannah's behavior; "And she vowed a vow, and said, 'O LORD of hosts, if Thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of Thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget Thine handmaid, but wilt give unto Thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.' And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli marked her mouth. Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken. And Eli said unto her, 'How long wilt thou be drunken? Put away thy wine from thee.' And Hannah answered and said, 'No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD. Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial: for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto.' Then Eli answered and said, 'Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of Him.' And she said, 'Let thine handmaid find grace in thy sight.' So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad." (1 Sam. 1:11 - 18) Note how the priest was quick to trust her answer and cover his misjudgment of her with well wishing for her petition to God. I would that I should be the same as he, should I find myself to misjudge a brother or sister like this.
Paul, Hymenaeus and Alexander had an uglier disagreement. It was so bad, that Paul mentioned it in both letters he wrote to Timothy, so great was his concern that Timothy not make the same mistake! "This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme." (1 Tim. 1:18 - 20) "And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some." (2 Tim. 2:17 - 18) It would appear from these two pieces of Paul's letters that Hymenaeus was puffed up, and took two others with him, Alexander and Philetus, not only declaring their misinterpretation of scripture, but refusing to bow to Paul's correction! These three were as stiffnecked as the Israelites of old, and Paul was forced to break fellowship with them because of it. Paul states further in his 2nd letter to Timothy why he turned away from these three. "Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." (2 Tim. 3:4 - 7) They were traitors to his fellowship, heady and highminded of themselves, no better than Korah of the book Numbers!
Moses and Korah, Dathan, and Abiram also had an ugly disagreement, a rebellion against Moses and Aaron's leadership! For brevity I won't write the whole Chapter of Num. 16, but in a nutshell, Korah and his group charged that Moses and Aaron took on too much authority over the group, citing that the whole congregation was holy. In their short-sightedness, they failed to recognize that Moses and Aaron were God-appointed leaders, and this was, in effect, rebellion against God! The final word from God was their swallowing up into the earth!
Jesus, the Pharisees, scribes and lawyers always had disagreements, even arguments, and to the hurt of all against Jesus, because they were all blind to the fact He was the holy Son of God! Jesus often rebuked these religious leaders, if not for erroneous statements, for malevolent badgering and complaining that He violated Scripture in some way, not realizing they were judging the Son of God! By now you may have noticed any time there is a disagreement between two who believe in God, one is blind, and the other truly sees. Problem is, God is not around in person to tell which one needs the seeing eye dog, so the one goes off into their ditch, while the other continues on the path!
Jesus said He brought not peace but a sword between family members; "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me." (Matt. 10:34 - 37) And this was also spoken of prior to Jesus! "For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man's enemies are the men of his own house." (Micah 7:6) Jesus knew that the Gospel and the bible and interpretations of it, and even the very belief in it, would cause tension and persecution between family members, and for some, even death! An example of death would be a Muslim accepting Christ as Savior and trying to witness to their family. An example of tension/persecution would be a nonCatholic Christian trying to explain their interpretation of doctrine as correct over the doctrine of Catholicism.
Then there's Apollos; "And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ." (Acts 18:24 - 28) Now THIS is the CORRECT way to reason with someone about their faith and the differences we all will have. To have this method of difference about doctrine worked out among Christians in this manner is about as rare as finding fangs on a chicken! I recently saw someone leave a comment on the Facebook social website asking for prayer for someone who had died, and I meekly apologized, and explained it is not logical to pray for the dead. If someone went to heaven, can you pray for them some extra bliss? And if someone is in hell, their judgment is over, you cannot pray them into heaven, and I know many Catholics who have told me they believe in reincarnation, and I mention they should open their bibles and read this piece of Scripture; "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:" (Heb. 9:27) The Catholic bible has this, but few Catholics are aware of it, and sadly, most priests don't teach this, nor many other important pieces of Christian doctrine, so many Catholics are ignorant of this. Don't think I'm belittling all Catholics, for I once was one, and ignorant, too!
Church discipline is somewhat rarely brought to bear against heretical babbling, but it happens. The heretic, unfortunately, in this day and age, often has the "luxury" (if you could call it that) of simply going to a different denomination church that agrees with their disputed doctrine! For example, a Baptist who would agree with Jehovah witness doctrine would certainly soon become a reject if they stuck to it, but would feel little hurt of the Baptist rejection, because they would simply waltz into the doors of the Jehovah witness church, and be treated right at home! "But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself." (Titus 3:9 - 11) Now we who believe the truth, that Jesus Christ is the only way to receive salvation, born in the flesh to be our sacrifice for all our sins, that washed in His precious blood, our sins are all gone, would never accept the doctrine that doorknocking is another way to get you into heaven, yet there are churches out there that consider this the truth, and so is it any wonder that we are warned to reject people spouting such false dogma!
My family in Christ, let us not be in a hurry to condemn and argue with one another about various interpretations of the word of God that are indeed unprofitable and vain, and not only that, constitute a disruption in fellowship with one another. Agree to disagree on the little stuff, but the important doctrine hold true in your heart, and follow scripture as the Spirit leads you. Remember what Paul said in his 2nd letter to Timothy; "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." (2 Tim. 3:16 - 17) Reprove and correct meekly with lovingkindness; treat one another as Apollos was treated where there is a mistake in doctrine. Vinegar never attracted any houseflies, nor bellicose disagreement won over against errant thinking. How is it loving one another if we strive and contend one against another? "Honour thy father and thy mother: and, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." (Matt. 19:19)