Monday, November 12, 2012

A church formed around the idea of doctrinal purity...

Is only a couple of years away from a split.

And the pious talk and counter cultural lifestyle only hasten what's inevitable.

Sooner or later a theological or practical issue will come up and the leadership won't agree on it. Because of the disproportionate number of black-and-white thinkers in the congregation (black and white thinkers are drawn to doctrinally 'pure' churches), the issue will become fundamental. The angular personalities of the people involved will make patching over differences more difficult.  Because the church is not part of a well established denomination, there will not be systems in place to help deal with the conflict.



  1. Sounds like the entire church (except perhaps for those who are actively 'free' thinkers). I disagree with your pet doctrine, you disagree with mine, with both disagree with the place down the road about the same one issue but not enough to get together. But by this time we've put out enough plants that we are our own denominations so we're convinced that we're right and everyone else is wrong.

    Fortunately, after a number of years (centuries) we've grown big enough to be comfortable enough to extend an olive branch and work with each other and at least not kill each other over the things on which we disagree.

  2. A split - or a sect. Has to be a black and white outcome, remember!

  3. The history of the brethren (where I have a lot of in-laws and spent time myself in my youth) is a great demonstration of your thesis. They were founded on the basis that the existing churches of the day (mid-1800s) had fallen away from the truth and the only option was to leave them and await the Lord's coming. Over the next century and a half they had split after split over various doctrinal and practical issues so there are now so many groupings even insiders get confused as to who is who. One wing gradually devolved into the abusive cult we now call the Exclusive Brethren. Others are fairly "normal" - you could mistake some of them for Baptists. In between there's a lot of weirdness. One assembly (as they call themselves) that a friend was involved in broke off fellowship with a second assembly because they refused to break with a third group which allowed a guitar to be played in their worship. Once this stuff gets into the system it's hard to get it out.

  4. Well established denominations have split in the past over truth (one side being less interested in it than the other), and the Presbyterian Churches of the world are not different. Our own mob (PCA) has being involved in two splits in the last 60 years. Splits are never nice, but sometimes necessary.

  5. A pretty astute observation.. sadly one which a friend of mine seems to have experienced in a church plant that was only a few years old.