Eschatology Need Not Divide Us

I would agree with Al Mohler and Mark Dever that our views on end times need not divide us. Any church that would divide over third-order issues such as eschatology or alcohol is in sin.

Al Mohler presents a theological triage in doctrinal discernment. He claims that theological seriousness and maturity demand that we consider doctrinal issues in terms of their relative importance. See Mohler’s article at: http://www.albertmohler.com/?cat=Commentary&cdate=2004-05-20.

Here is a quick overview of the theological triage:
First-order doctrines represent the most fundamental truths of the Christian faith (among these are doctrines of the Trinity, the full deity and humanity of Jesus Christ, justification by faith, and the authority of Scripture), and a denial of these doctrines represents nothing less than an eventual denial of Christianity itself. Second-order doctrines (such as meaning and mode of baptism) are distinguished from the first-order set by the fact that believing Christians may disagree on the second-order issues, though this disagreement will create significant boundaries between believers. Third-order issues (such as eschatology and alcohol) are doctrines over which Christians may disagree and remain in close fellowship, even within local congregations.

Mark Dever says that you are in sin if you lead your congregation to have a statement of faith that requires a particular view on end times. He makes a powerful charge regarding end times and church unity.
Listen to the sermon at: http://www.capitolhillbaptist.org/audio/2009/07/12/the-end-of-death-revelation-20/
See the quote below from his Rev 20 sermon given on 7/12/09: http://ajgibson.org/blog/2009/07/13/its-a-sin-to-sever-cooperation-with-other-believers-over-eschatological-issues/.

Dever states:
“I think that millennial views need not be among those doctrines that divide us. . . . I am suggesting that what you believe about the millennium—how you interpret these thousand years—is not something that it is necessary for us to agree upon in order to have a congregation together. The Lord Jesus Christ prayed in John 17:21 that we Christians might be one. Of course all true Christians are one in that we have his Spirit, we share his Spirit, we desire to live out that unity. But that unity is supposed to be evident as a testimony to the world around us. Therefore, I conclude that we should end our cooperations together with other Christians (whether nearly in a congregation, or more at length in working together in missions and church planting and evangelism and building up the ministry) only with the greatest of care, lest we rend the body of Christ for whose unity he’s prayed and given himself. Therefore, I conclude that it is sin to divide the body of Christ—to divide the body that he prayed would be united. Therefore for us to conclude that we must agree upon a certain view of alcohol, or a certain view of schooling, or a certain view of meat sacrificed to idols, or a certain view of the millennium in order to have fellowship together is, I think, not only unnecessary for the body of Christ, but it is therefore both unwarranted and therefore condemned by scripture. So if you’re a pastor and you’re listening to me, you understand me correctly if you think I’m saying you are in sin if you lead your congregation to have a statement of faith that requires a particular millennial view. I do not understand why that has to be a matter of uniformity in order to have Christian unity in a local congregation.”

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One comment on “Eschatology Need Not Divide Us

  1. Caleb says:

    Good words, brother. Very important.

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