DIFFERENCES AND DIFFERENCES
Our salvation depends only on our faith in JESUS OF NAZARETH, our Redeemer, the Son of God (Acts 16:31; Eph 2:8).
But this faith, is understood to be obedient, that is, to be followed by a desire and compromise to live under our Savior’s will (Jn 14:23; 15:9-10), under the danger of falling off Grace if we do not submit to Christ’s will (Mt 7:21, 26-27; Jn 15:4-6).
Nevertheless, it is our faith alone in Jesus that finally saves us because no human will ever come to the end of his life and be ready to pass a divine judgement and found to be perfect and totally obedient, always faithful to God. He will be sinful (Acts 7:59; Ro 10:6-9).
Every Christian, regardless how he has lived, in holiness or sinfulness, he must always repent at the last minute and ask Lord Jesus for forgiveness, and he will be forgiven (Jn 6:37; Heb 4:16; 1Jn 1:9), That is the only way we can attain salvation. Through forgiveness, due to our living faith in Jesus, and not in hope to be found ‘sinless’ at the Judgement Day, due to our own effort and merit.
This is the foundation of Christianity (Mt 16:18), therefore, Christian communities today co-exist with each-other, despite the differences they may have in customs, traditions, or theological views. We cannot change that, but every human who calls upon the Holy Name of Jesus, has the divine given right to claim to be finally judged by JESUS Himself, over any other human tribunal (Mk 9:39-40). Even if we may not have a direct communion with them, it is our duty before our Lord, to consider them Christians, and treat them with the love and respect they deserve, as our brethren.
The reason we have communion with some, and not communion with other groups, depends in the consequences of the doctrinal ideas we all hold.
Some Christians have different opinions about the Rapture, or the Millennial reign of Jesus at his return; others if we should drink alcohol or not in the Lord’s Supper. The consequences of these ideas do not change the ethics and morals of our communities. Even if we are personally convinced of one or another theory, this will only affect us for a while, and soon we will all adapt to the true circumstances, whether we missed the Rapture or not..
The same with the alcohol. The essence of the Eucharist survives whether we use wine, or grape juice, and we all agree that drunkenness is sinful.
There is other level of doctrinal differences, that affect our whole view of the Gospel. Examples of that, is Infant Baptism or female Pastors.
The ones who consider essential to have personal faith prior to baptism will have to reject infant baptism as valid; and the ones who believe that women are not called to be Church Elders will refuse to acknowledge their ordination as such.
This stage of differences starts creating a breach, however, not deep enough as to cut all ties, because we believe that if those infants grow to a personal knowledge of Jesus, they will become true Christians, and hopefully, be baptized as adults. The same with female ministers. Even if we think that they are not seen by God as Elders, nobody can stop a Christian, male or female, from witnessing and preaching the Gospel of Jesus, and finally, in case there are no men up to the job, a woman can hold the leadership of a community, but never as an Elder, until there is a man found for that job. These conditions are endured, but never accepted as correct, and none of these groups stop being Christians for endorsing these behaviors.
Sadly, there is a third level of differences that cause total discord between Christian communities, to the point that they disclaim each other as apostates and sectarians, losing all hope of future reunion.
Those who accept homosexuality, plural marriages, or prayers to the dead, and other doctrines, if wrong, they will promote sinful conduct.
Homosexuality and Polygamy, in the hypothetical case that were correct, would be harmless; but in case they were wrong, they will mean distortion of humanity, grave sexual misconduct and loss of salvation if unrepented. Therefore, they cannot be left to uncertainty or discussions. The gravity of the issue demands a firm stand as soon as possible. In this category also fall ideas that deny basic doctrines of Christianity, like the divinity of Jesus, personality of the Holy Spirit, physical resurrection of Jesus, Virginal conception of the Lord, etc.
Even if these topics are discussed by theologians, they can only be discussed for greater understanding of effects and causes, but not nature of these ideas. These themes demand a firm dogmatic decision. Those who deny Jesus divinity, and those who accept it, can discuss the issue, but never putting in doubt their convictions as something ‘discussable’. And we can say the same with homosexuality, or prayers to the dead, as a form of occultism.
HOWEVER, if what they profess, right or not, is born from their faith in Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God, they have the right to await judgement from the Lord Himself, rather than ourselves.
OUR attitude with groups like these, like the Watchtower Society (Arians), the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Henotheist and Polytheist), Unitarians (Arians), Seven Day Adventists (Judaizing), or United Pentecostals (Sabelian-Modallist) and others, should be of a safe distance, openly declaring what we identify as serious faults that will directly affect our interrelationship with God and his will.
But at all times, we must remain conscious, that those faults are not intentional. Their errors are not a product of an evil desire to destroy Christianity but come as a misunderstanding of the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, and they profess their errors, with the mistaken intention of doing his will.
But even then, only our Lord Jesus can judge them, condemn or save them, if they truly love Him and are willing to submit to His will.
“Whoever comes to me I will never drive away”