Andy Naselli: How to Disagree with Other Christians about Disputable Matters

8524 reads

There are 20 Comments

Steve Newman's picture

Are we assuming, as in the case of the "carnivores vs. vegetarians" dispute in Romans 14, that both sides of the agreement are "morally neutral" as Paul shows they are in this passage? Since we haven't seen the applications yet, it is hard to argue if they are or are not proper applications. 

I would guess that would lead into the "is music morally neutral? argument, for example.

But since we don't know what the applications are at this point, let's hold off on that. Don't want to assume anything.

Anne Sokol's picture

to those who couldn't, in good conscience, eat the meat, the meat was not morally neutral.

so it might be more helpful to recognize that music can be morally subjective.

convictions become moral issues for the one holding the conviction.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

I have seen two extremes on Romans 14 applications, neither of which is usually helpful to the discussion.

1. The passage applies only to the things listed in the passage and therefore doesn't apply to "Issue X" today.  Even if those who espouse this position can't bring themselves to say that the text says that directly, they do so practically, since nothing that comes up today is ever "disputable" in their minds.

2. Everything not covered explicitly in scripture falls into the area of disputable things.  The people that believe this generally reject any application of biblical principle to "Issue X."

Before we can apply Romans 14 to any issue, we first have to determine (as in Steve's example above) whether something truly fits the category.  That is where the hard work is.  People with both of the above views generally want to avoid that hard work and make the application easy.  We need to be Berean in our thinking and resist the temptation to try to take all effort out of discernment.  There's a reason we need to rely on God for wisdom.

Dave Barnhart

Mark_Smith's picture

I listened to get the list myself. He listed 17 so called 3rd level issues, defined as topics Christians in the same church should be able to disagree about and remain together. I disagree with several of them as being 3rd level issues.

Sabbath (can you eat out on Sunday, mow lawn, etc), Entertainment, Language/Cursing, Dress, Smoking/Drinking, Money/Giving/Debt, Holidays, When to Have Children/Birth Control, Parenting, Education, Dating/Courting, Church Meeting Times/Schedule/Multi Campus, End Times, Music, Bible Translations, Politics, Environment.

To me there are several I disagree as being 3rd level.

 

Drinking/Smoking - If I go to a restaurant and see a deacon drinking a Bud at the bar with a cigarette in his mouth…I lost respect for him and the church that allows that. I couldn’t accept that.

Music–not quite that simple to list as a agree to disagree issue. Music styles tell you a lot about other beliefs. I think THIS IS THE ISSUE Andy had in mind in preaching this sermon.

End Times– Not a 3rd level issue to me. I would never join a church that was not pre-trib dispensational. By the way, I have never read, not will I read, the Left Behind novels.
 

Mark_Smith's picture

Most of the 17 issues he lists are 3rd level. I mean really, who cares if you go grocery shopping on Sunday afternoon? Even touchier, how many churches have split over watching an occasional rated R movie. I personally don't know of any (as if that is the key test!).

 

But, there are some serious ones here. The MUSIC issue has caused serious problems. Dismissing it as a mere 3rd level issue is ridiculous. It has been discussed a lot so I'll move on.

 

What about alcohol and smoking. It is becoming very accepted in many CALVINIST circles that alcohol is all good. Drink in moderation and it is just fine. I've gotten into arguments with Calvinists saying I am sinning for not using wine in communion! The recent trends among some to open up and accept alcohol use is very concerning.

 

End Times are also important, not just 3rd level issues. While a few of my friends are either amillennial or post-trib premillennialists a la Piper/Grudem, we don't worship together or attend the same church. I don't see how you could disagree over eschatology with a Pastor and sit in the pews of a church he preaches in every weak. His view of eschatology will flavor many of his sermons.

 

While brothers in different fellowships can disagree over issues like these, I think they spell trouble for believers in a given church.

 

Mike Harding's picture

Most of us don't have the luxury of claiming neutrality on smoking, the recreational use of alcohol, taking drugs (legalization is coming), watching provocative entertainment, cursing, attending rock concerts and reproducing the same in church worship, imitating immodest dress or cross-dressing, etc. It is easy to throw these issues into a 3rd level or 10th level category and dismiss the stricter side as weak in the faith and the looser side as strong in the faith.  That is not at all what Romans 14 is talking about.  Are you really going to raise your children this way?  Set guidelines for your Christian school this way?  Are you going to look for a wife or a husband who indulges in these kinds of things and belongs to a church that does as well?  I doubt it.  Each issue deserves a thorough understanding of its cultural meaning and impact as contrasted with biblical theology and principle.  In other words, it's a lot of work.  Carefully exegeting Romans 14 is also a lot of work.  For starters, begin with Cranfield and Moo on Romans 14.  More than likely we are dealing with new Jewish believers who had a difficult time transitioning from being under the OT Mosaic Law to the new dispensation in the church age.  Some of the old restrictions were no longer necessary or binding such as the dietary laws or special days; yet, for the new Jewish believers it was very difficult for them to adjust to the new covenant obligations now that the old covenant was passed.  Paul was concerned with the perseverance of those who were weak in the faith (not weak in faith) that they literally might be destroyed and return back to Judaism and renounce Christianity. 

Pastor Mike Harding

Anne Sokol's picture

to the sermon ....

"smoking an occasional cigar" is what he said, not "smoking" (like a smokestack ...)

He's right that they are issues that the Bible does not CLEARLY define. and he's not saying we can live profligate lives by any stretch. by any stretch at all.

like drinking, we have a church policy that we do not drink alcohol. we created this after we started a rehab center for addicts. It's a wisdom issue. However, most of us understand that the Bible doesn't literally command us not to drink a drop ever. But we made that as a rule (though wine in communion [if  visiting a church that uses wine] is an allowed exception b/c of the culture here). 

So anyway, I don't feel like Mark S's portrayal was really accurate. It is his level of conviction on those issues that make them so serious for him, not that the Bible is so directly clear about them.

And AN is right, we all have strong/weak consciences depending on the area of our lives. it's not about being a strong/weak christian. Andy says this, and that is important.

Anne Sokol's picture

so, i am thinking about areas in which i have a weak conscience, and i think these are a few:

I mean that these areas are not morally neutral in my life at this time, it would be sin for me to participate in these things, and I struggle accepting believers who have differing beliefs, though I do accept them (although, to be honest, i think i judge them): 

vaccinations, circumcision, routine use of prenatal ultrasound, birthing in a hospital for no medical reason, use of epidural during birth, routine acceptance of allopathic drug medicines (aspirin, tylenol, ibuprofin, antibiotics, prescription meds), visiting allopathic doctors, breastfeed on a strict schedule and only as food, I'm sure there are more ...

Things I can't personally do but it's not difficult for me to accept other believers: wear jewelry (this is a temporary thing for me right now--God recently convicted me of depending on "power dressing" for confidence), spank, wear a head covering (actually, I can do this when in public at places who teach this), drink alcohol in any form (ok, I have no prob doing it during communion at churches who do it, and my husband can drink it medicinally esp because we do not use allopathic meds and has allergic reactions to some meds), speak in tongues (i have prolife friends who do this and it doesn't bother me to work with them), personal use of rock-ish music.

.... very interesting exercise! i think i need to work on not judging christians about my "weak conscience" categories, but it's very hard, honestly, b/c I have such strong and well-studied positions there and a lot of emotional reactions to those areas. It has helped me understand more the christians who are struggling with accepting others with the music and alcohol and other issues. 

Mark_Smith's picture

You missed AN's point. He says these 3rd level issues ARE IN YOUR SPECIFIC CHURCH. Faith Baptist Church of Anywhere, Ukraine. In that church people should be able to disagree over what I perceive to be some serious issues, such as alcohol use, music to use in the service, etc. He isn't talking about getting along with a brother in another church BUT THE SAME ONE.

 

I know a lot of believers who think drinking occasionally is fine, for example. OK, I disagree. But they are deacons in some other church! AN says I should accept that deacon to come to my church and I just deal with it!!

Anne Sokol's picture

he's not saying you don't have church standards.

our church is baptist and does not allow speaking in tongues or any type of teaching encouraging it. but we have people who are from that background and practice it privately. And we have normal relationships among ourselves. 

our church grandmas (from charasmatic background) are major hand-raisers during worship. It bothers the youth b/c they are more conservative about that. But no one talks about whether it's good or bad. we just accept each other.

We're actually starting to have some intermarrying, too, between our bapt and pentacostals/charasmatics. they just choose what church to go to then, and conform to that church's teaching.

Our music leaders are too "progressive" for several of the other leaders in our church. And all the pastors (that includes my husband) don't personally prefer it. But we don't make an issue of it. We really don't teach about music or have an official position. (Although, they did something once with another church, and boy howdy, they were way too progressive for us!) i'm sure church members all over the board with it.

churches are different. most of them find a comfort level in conforming with each other over these issues.  

Mark_Smith's picture

Did you listen to the sermon? He is NOT talking about what he calls 1st and 2nd degree issues.

Raising hands...I agree a 3rd degree issue. Drinking socially, No. Music, No. End Times, No. He mixed several serious issues into his sermon. I reject his reasoning.

Anne Sokol's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

Did you listen to the sermon? He is NOT talking about what he calls 1st and 2nd degree issues.

Raising hands...I agree a 3rd degree issue. Drinking socially, No. Music, No. End Times, No. He mixed several serious issues into his sermon. I reject his reasoning.

maybe we should re-listen and see how he defined each level.

i think those things can be 3rd level--are they that clearly defined in scripture?

 

i will try 2 listen again later and define the levels

 

Anne Sokol's picture

* sorry, whenever I cut/paste from Word, it makes this formatting thing at the front:

Normal
0

false
false
false

RU
X-NONE
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:"Обычная таблица";
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-parent:"";
mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0cm;
mso-para-margin-right:0cm;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0cm;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:11.0pt;
font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif";
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-fareast-language:EN-US;}

All Bible teachings are important, but some are more than others.

1.      1.  Most central and essential to Christianity

a.       You can’t deny these teachings and still be a Christian.

b.      Example: one God in three persons; Jesus is fully God and fully man; we’re saved by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus alone

2.      2.  Create reasonable boundaries between Christians, different denominations, different local churches

a.       Examples: Baptism, church government, role of men/women in church and home,

b.      It’s challenging for a church to have a healthy unity when leaders and members disagree on these issues

3.       3. Disputable matters

a.       Members of the same church should be able to disagree with each other and still have close fellowship; disagreement should not cause disunity.

b.      No 2 humans will fully agree on these issues

c.       They CAN BE extremely divisible

 

-->

Mark_Smith's picture

Of course some of the things AN listed as 3rd level are divisible. That is because they are actually 2nd level! In AN's world pre-trib/post-trib/amillennial are equally supported in Scripture. Good men have disagreed over them goes the mantra, so live and let be. Maybe in his church...or blog, rather, but not in mine. Really, if you are pre-trib would you feel at home sitting through a 30 week study of Revelation from a Partial Preterist Amillennial point of view? Then act like all is good? Plus, after service you meet your friends from church for lunch at the Mexican restaurant and your friend buys a Margarita. All good right? We are agreeing to disagree.

 

This is pure hogwash. It won't work in the real world.

Mark_Smith's picture

AN is saying Music, Alcohol, End Times, etc...are issues that no one can have enforceable absolutes on. Live and let live. Do you agree with that? Half your church wants a smoking section out back, no problem. Its a 3rd Level issue...don't cause a ruckus over that one.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Mark,

You are giving little evidence to show that the issues you mention are indeed worthy of being absolutes.  I'm pretty sure that most of us here would not be comfortable with the idea of "smoking sections out back of the church," or Bible studies over margaritas at a local Mexican restaurant, but your painting of Naselli's arguments in extreme terms is doing little to bolster what you are arguing.

Your rhetorical statements wouldn't be out of place however, in a typical sermon with a lot of posturing and little exposition -- the type that many that have grown up in fundamentalism are used to hearing, which are exactly the types of messages that have driven people completely to the evangelical side.  Poor argumentation, even in support of something good and right, rather than helping, usually does more damage.

Dave Barnhart

Anne Sokol's picture

i think that things can float a little btwn levels 2 and 3 depending on the pastor/context. like he mentioned roles of women in the church and home as a level 2 issue. to me it is a level 3 issue, except for ordination.

V, my husband, is calvin-ish in his approach to many questions but he allows arminian-ish men to preach. even when it comes out in their sermons. that's a level 2, i think.

we let people who speak in tongues join our church with the understanding that they won't practice or promote it. we don't force them to repudiate it. some of them grow out of it... like, the charismatic grandmas met together of their own volition, a few yrs back, and decided to stop practicing it all together. 

?

dgszweda's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

Of course some of the things AN listed as 3rd level are divisible. That is because they are actually 2nd level! In AN's world pre-trib/post-trib/amillennial are equally supported in Scripture. Good men have disagreed over them goes the mantra, so live and let be. Maybe in his church...or blog, rather, but not in mine. Really, if you are pre-trib would you feel at home sitting through a 30 week study of Revelation from a Partial Preterist Amillennial point of view? Then act like all is good? Plus, after service you meet your friends from church for lunch at the Mexican restaurant and your friend buys a Margarita. All good right? We are agreeing to disagree.

 

This is pure hogwash. It won't work in the real world.

 

Mark,

 

The issue is not whether you agree with it, but whether we separate over it.  I agree that if you are pretrib, you probably would not sit through the 30 week study on Revelation.  You may not even choose to go to that church.  That is fine.  But that is a personal standard/belief.  But the other church or believers are not in open sin.

I personally don't drink.  Have never drank alcohol and have no desire to ever drink alcohol.  But there are a few people in our church that do drink alcohol.  We do not allow it at church or church activities, and I have gone to dinner with some of these people and they have never ordered alcohol in front of me, but if they did, I wouldn't separate over them.  Because it isn't sin.  I think there are a lot of cautions around it, and I would never recommend it to anyone, but they are not committing sin, until they are committing sin.  So I won't separate over them.  The second they are seen abusing it, they will face church discipline, even though we as a church don't forbid it.

Mark_Smith's picture

You accuse me of poor argumentation...well, unlike some, I have a full time job, a family with 4 kids, and a ministry. I can't write a 8 paragraph defense with 17 scripture references with every post I make. Sorry to disappoint!

 

I was going to ignore this thread since it is obvious that most posters have missed the point of Andy N.'s sermon. But, let me ask, did you actually LISTEN to his sermon?