T. PIERCE BROWN
During the Gulf war we heard of several occasions where several men from our armed forces where killed by “friendly fire.” This, to many of us, seems even worse than being killed by enemy fire, but of course the ultimate end is the same–they are dead. As I thought about that, the realization came to me that it has a tragic application in the Lord’s church. We are all supposed to be on the same side, fighting the enemy, but many times it seems that we are killed or wounded by what might be termed “friendly fire” inasmuch as it comes from those who are supposed to in the same army. As in the case of the armed forces, it does not seem too friendly, and the consequences may be the same as, or in some cases worse than, if it had been the enemy fire.
For example, a person speaks or writes something about the teaching of the Bible with which I disagree, or think I do. Instead of first finding out if I understood his meaning properly, or if it was merely a matter of misusing the English language, I write him up as a false teacher and advocate withdrawal of fellowship from him. I do it under the guise of “contending for the faith once delivered to the saints,” and, slashing around with the sword of the Spirit, bring division, heartache, confusion to the Lord’s family. A specific example of this in a minor way happened last week. The preacher said, “I hope that those who have failed to obey the gospel will be saved.” As I discussed his statement with him, I discovered that he did not mean that. He meant, “I wish they could be saved, just as God wants all to be saved.” He had not properly considered that “hope” is a combination of expectation and desire. Although he desired that they be saved, and wished there were some way it could be done, he found no hope for it in God’s word. I could have either lashed out at him publicly at the time, written a scathing rebuke about him or done all sorts of other ungodly and unbrotherly things, but I did not. He corrected what amounted to a grammatical error in a public way, but did not perish under “friendly fire.”
Another preacher said, “Kingdom and church do not mean the same thing.” Instead of blasting him from the saddle for false teaching, I asked him what he meant. If he meant that all those who are in the church today are not in the kingdom, then he is wrong and needed to be corrected. If he meant, that the word “kingdom” does not mean the same thing as the word “church,” he is correct. A better way of saying it might be, “There are several terms that are used to apply to the group of saved persons today. House of God, body of Christ, family, sheepfold, vineyard, church, kingdom, etc. The words are not synonymous, but they all refer to the same group of persons today in the context of speaking of saved persons.”
It would do a great deal to help in dealing with false doctrines and to stop adding to the hatred, division and strife in the brotherhood if we would have the love, and take the time to find out who the real enemy is before we cut his head off with the sword of the Spirit. It would be helpful even if we realized that the Bible definition of unsound doctrine is not simply a misunderstanding of what the Bible actually teaches at some point, but a doctrine that does at least one of three things: 1. If it perverts the gospel plan of salvation and would cause one to be lost if he believed and obeyed it. Paul says that even an angel would be accursed if he does that (Gal. 1:9). 2. If it perverts the worship so as to make it vain, for if a person worships God in vain, he loses vital contact with God. When a person adds elements to the worship of God which are not authorized, (a commandment of men), it is vain. 3. If it leads a person who believes and practices it to live an immoral life, it is dangerous and deadly. We should be able to distinguish between a person who happens to break step when he is marching in the ranks, and one who is either AWOL or a traitor to the government. Let us not be guilty of killing our soldiers with “friendly fire.”
T. Pierce Brown
1068 Mitchell Ave.
Cookeville, TN. 38501
Phone: (615) 528-3600