The Problem of Inconsistency with the Question of Fellowship

One of the biggest challenges in wrestling this alligator (fellowship) is the potential for inconsistency. Let me first say that names are hardly relevant. The denominational name a person wears has nothing to do with that person’s salvation. That’s like me putting on a lab coat and thinking that makes me a doctor. Or thinking that just because I call myself a Christian makes me one. What does matter is how you define Christianity; or how you believe a person becomes a Christian.

I suppose this applies primarily to folks who are closely acquainted with, or are a part of, the Churches of Christ heritage.  For us, baptism is the most fundamental of all sacraments. It is an absolute requirement for salvation. It is a non-negotiable that isn’t up for debate and is as sacred as any doctrine out there. I have met people who thought the Five Steps were bunk. But I have yet to hear of someone who was faithful to the Churches of Christ deny the absolute necessity of baptism.

So here’s the rub. If we want to say that we should embrace other followers of Christ as our brothers and sisters in Christ, that’s fine. Perhaps we should; and I’ve yet to fully determine that for myself. But it seems that we ought to at least be consistent with how we define Christianity. How can a person who believes that baptism is necessary for admission into the family of Christ conclude that someone who hasn’t been baptized a part of the family? That I can not answer; and that’s the first inconsistency problem.

The second is just as difficult. First consider this question . . . how can good, God-fearing people possibly be denied heaven on a “technicality.” When you unroll that question and take a step back it starts to look differently. I understand, I’ve looked at it from every angle I can think of, and I haven’t found a good answer. Would God, who has defined himself as love, send someone (that devoted their lives to his service) to hell because they didn’t complete step five in a five-step plan that has isn’t actually ever spelled out in the Scriptures? I don’t know. I suppose we’ll find out eventually. The difficulty and lack of clarity with those questions leads to another inconsistency–changing the rules of the game in the middle of the game. In other words, change our theology and doctrine so that a wider net is cast and our friends and these God-fearing people can be covered.

For all the questions that I have yet to answer. One thing I’m sure of is that being inconsistent is not one of them.

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3 thoughts on “The Problem of Inconsistency with the Question of Fellowship

  1. Well written article! For me, learning to live in God’s grace has shown me God is bigger than my interpretation of scripture or my doctrine on salvation. I used to find myself putting my friends through a “litmus test” by asking “well did they get baptized and was it for the right reasons?”. I noticed that it caused me to pass judgment on them. In our fellowship (C of C), we tend to over-emphasize baptism. For example, if you asked someone “how do you know you’re going to heaven?” most people would say “because I was baptized.” But wouldn’t the more correct answer be “Because I put my faith in Jesus.” ? Sometimes I think we put baptism above having faith in Jesus. I know from my past, I’ve been more concerned with being right than I have showing love and grace to others. I firmly believe that baptism is part of salvation, but if somebody else chooses to downplay its significance, I’m not going to break fellowship and brotherhood with them. It’s late, so I hope this makes sense 🙂

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    1. I understand where you’re coming from. Baptism has always been taught to be part of a process and salvation was the culmination; very similar to the Catholic catechism. I’ve personally had to do a lot of unlearning of bad theology.

      By the way, I’m not sure if you remember me or not, we went to church together at Oceanside for a while as children (though I’m a few years older). Our mothers were/are very good friends. Thanks for sharing your comments.

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      1. yes, i do remember you, your younger brother, and your mother! It’s a small world for sure. They’re still serving at Oceanside. You’ve got a great blog, and it looks like God is doing some amazing stuff through you. Keep up the good work for the Kingdom. – Beef

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