Perhaps you too have heard this question; “why is it that Modernists in the churches seem to get along so peaceably in their fellowship and united endeavors whereas Fundamentalists seem to be fighting all the time; not only fighting the Modernists but fighting among themselves? “This is a question well worth considering. It is rather unfortunate that Fundamentalists can not dwell together in unity and labour together for Christ in perfect harmony, for it does seem that the cause of Christ suffers because of divisions and controversies among God’s people.
There are some most important doctrines concerning which all who are truly God’s children are agreed:
All saved Christians are agreed that all of the Bible is God’s Word.
All saved Christians are agreed that Christ is the eternal God.
All saved Christians are agreed that Christ’s sacrificial death is God’s remedy for sin.
All saved Christians are agreed that Christ arose from the dead and is now a Man in heaven.
All saved Christians are agreed that God has only one true Bible Church during this age.
All saved Christians are agreed as to the personality of the Holy Spirit and that that Holy Spirit indwells believers only.
All saved Christians are agreed that salvation is by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
All saved Christians believe in the heaven and the hell of the Bible, and that there will be a separation of believers and unbelievers in the ages to come.
All saved Christians are agreed that the Lord expects His redeemed ones to walk worthy of their high calling; to live godly, righteously and soberly in this present world.
All saved Christians are agreed that many of the promises which God made to Israel and that many of the religious practices which He gave for Israel have no place in the program of the Body of Christ.
But then come the heart-aches and regrets, because of the disagreements among these saved Christians. They cannot agree as to the second coming of the Lord Jesus, Christ. The two main divisions are the Premillenarians and the Postmillenarians. How different are their views! They are so irreconcilably at variance that frequently a discussion concerning the difference ends in bitter controversy, in ungraceful and uncharitable criticsm which destroys all Christian fellowship and unity. Inasmuch as they are saved by the gospel of Christ and are headed for the same heaven, this is deplorable.
What should be done in such a case? Certainly we should not expect servants of the Lord to sacrifice what they believe to be God given, Holy Spirit-directed convictions concerning the interpretation of the Scriptures. But on the other hand the Scriptures ask; “how can two walk together unless they be agreed?” We can see that there is a real problem if in the same assembly contrary views concerning the Lord’s Return are taught. Therefore, we can see that these contrary views do not make for unity, but invariably create divisions. Generally unpleasant results follow where different doctrinal views are taught in the same assembly of saints.
Do you know of any outstanding Premillennialist among the Fundamentalist leaders who is keeping silent concerning the Lord’s return because he does not want to create division? No; but you do know that these same men, who refuse to remain silent as to their convictions against Postmillennialism; Legalism, So-called Divine Healing, Sabbath-keeping, Arminianism, Eternal Security, Speaking with Tongues, Anointing with Oil, Church-membership, Denominationalism, Anglo-Israelism and Second Blessing, cry out with loud protests against their fellow Christians who disagree with them as to when the Body of Christ began or to which of the twenty, or more, water baptism practices is for that Body. They cry then, “mark them that cause divisions”. They have been causing divisions for some time, but they refuse to mark themselves. It is all according to who causes the division and in whose assembly. They prove themselves inconsistent, and quite frequently insincere; for they delight to make a Premillenarian out of a Postmillenarian, an “Eternal Security” Christian out of a “Falling-from-Grace” Christian (or vice versa). They delight to take the anointing-oil bottle away from their fellow-Christian or put it into his hand as the case may be. They do their best to preach him into their particular denomination or preach him out of all denominations. They do not hesitate for one moment to get other Christians into second blessing, with tongues and divine healing, or get him out, as the case may be. Little do they care for unity until they discover that the unity of their own movement is being disturbed. Then they have more than a conviction. They clear for action. There is conflict as well as conviction. They demand that the trouble-makers be castigated, disfellowshipped, branded as heretics, boycotted, because they create division among brethren. They use the tactics of Rome and Christian Scientists, urging their followers not to listen to their opponents.
Now the question: does the Lord want His servants to sacrifice convictions for the sake of Christian unity? We are unanimous in our answer, “not if the convictions are important”. Then the question; is tolerance possible without compromise, if the differences of interpretation do not affect the Divine truths by which a believer is saved or hinder the spiritual walk of that believer? We would like to say “yes”; but the cases proving this affirmative are so rare and exceptional that we hesitate.
Those of us who are responsible for the messages which are printed in this Bible-study magazine state that our Fundamentalists brethren, whom we recognize as members of the One Body of the risen Christ to which we belong, cannot prove by the Word of Truth rightly divided,
1. That the Body of Christ began historically on the day of Pentecost.
2. That the nation Israel was set aside by God with their rejection of Christ before or at the time He was crucified.
3. That the sign gifts of Mark 16:16 to 18 and I Corinthians 12:8 to 11 are for members of the Body of Christ today.
4. That the Dispensation of the mystery (Ephesians 3:9) began on the day of Pentecost. 5. That there was no difference between the gospel of the circumcision given to Peter, and the gospel of uncircumcision given to Paul. Galatians 2:7 to 9.
6. That there was no difference between God’s program for the Church in Paul’s message after Acts 28:28 and before that judgment was announced.
7. That the One baptism of Ephesians 4:5 is water baptism.
Now, if agreed that these differences have nothing to do with salvation, why permit them to cause divisions, and even bitter controversies, among Fundamentalists? Here is the answer: We have a strong conviction in this matter, to which we must be true. Why the conviction? We have diligently, spiritually, prayerfully studied the Plymouth Brethren interpretation concerning these seven points, which interpretation has been accepted as Divine truth by our leading Bible schools, and have found them to be faulty interpretations, offering neither a satisfactory understanding of the Word of God for those who would rightly divide the Word of Truth nor the slightest antidote or Scriptural corrective for the fanaticism which is sweeping over the country leaving spiritual insanity and Satanic delusions and counterfeit religious practices in its trail.
We appreciate the fact that we are opposed by popular, organized Fundamentalism but we have not found one of their champions who is courageous enough to publicly discuss these seven differences with us or meet for prayerful consideration of them in the presence of a chosen group of earnest Bible students.—On the contrary, they have resorted to unspiritual tactics, maligning and misrepresenting God’s servants and intimidating untaught students of the Scriptures with the cry of “Bullingerism”, making false charges against Dr. E. W. Bullinger, a faithful saint of the Lord, who has gone to be with the Lord, an able expositor of the Bible, with some of whose interpretations all writers in this magazine disagree. But our method is to Scripturally examine a brother’s teaching rather than discredit and condemn the teacher.
For more articles by Pastor J. C. O'Hair, visit the J. C. O'Hair Online Library.