A little over a year ago, I wrote an article “From a Certain Point of View,” and in re-reading it now, it seemed fitting to revisit the subject.
I’m still a firm believer in a believer not harboring so much as disdain or disapproval or hatred toward a fellow believer who sees scripture from a differing perspective. Agree to disagree and leave the matter as Michael did when debating with the devil lest we be overtaken by the sin inherent in us all.
It’s difficult, because the things in which we believe and have faith in and regarding are true from our perspective. We’re right— otherwise, we’d believe something different.
The thing is… right is a matter of perspective. We can both be looking at the same thing and come to two different conclusions— convinced we’re right because we’re looking right at the thing we happen to be considering.
In the believer’s case, the scriptures we rely on for a written record of God’s dealings with His chosen nation, Israel and humankind in general, we believe to be written through inspiration of God, living our lives by what we perceive from it and or about it (from others or other sources) some 2,000 years hence.
Disagreements come. It’s what we do in the face of disagreements where sin crouches outside for us.
The Crusades were certainly carried out by men believing they were absolutely right in what they were doing and believed they needed to do, driven by their perspective on the same set of scriptures that you and I consider in our generation while wondering how they came to the viewpoint they had to justify the carnage, rape, and death led by the emblem of the cross.
Here in North America, it was Christian men who brought the “Manifest Destiny” doctrine to justify a similar campaign, this time for the “promised land” and the American Indians were nearly wiped out as a people. To this day, all American Indians are entitled to are the pitiably-sized lots to call “sovereign territory.”
There were believers among the leaders who fomented this as a doctrine, using terms like “promised land” and “manifest destiny” to carry out an act we would (hopefully) not tolerate in this country since— but we don’t do much to lighten the load we’ve placed on the remaining American Indians and their tribes, either.
What about when we disagree over a passage in our scriptures?
Maybe we wouldn’t out-and-out kill someone who happens to see things differently on a matter involving scripture. But the heart is treacherous and who can know it? We can still have certain feelings and thoughts: that the person we disagree with is ignorant, or stupid, or is a candidate for destruction— which itself is a dangerous stance to have in light of our own deserving of death and clear, concise scriptural directive to first clear the rafter out of one’s own eye before trying to remove the splinter from someone else’s.
Or, we’ll feel sorry for them, which demonstrates a self-righteousness unbecoming a follower of Jesus Christ. (Luke 18:9; Luke 18:10-11) We are no better than the other person.
We just sin differently.
This isn’t to mean that there’s multiple ways to go on scriptures, or that anyone can, then, be free to think what they want about this or that. Nor do I believe that anyone is even speaking to that extreme. There are commonly-accepted core beliefs in common to all believers, starting with the acceptance that there is a Sovereign God and that Jesus of Nazareth ultimately was put to death that we might live.
After that, things start going wonky, with indoctrinations such as Trinitarianism, the Papacy— along with its subsequent incarnations through Governing Bodies, Councils and similar bodies claiming sole right to authority (and interpretation, in some groups) over what its membership is to believe and practice— and eschatological views (prophetic interpretations, for example).
If I don’t believe that the Trinity is a Jewish Christian teaching, based on what I can see and read from the letters we have from Jewish Christian believers living before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, then I’m not a real Christian, and am a likely candidate for Hell in some Gentile Christian circles, according to most believers today, in my generation.
If I don’t accept the authority of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church, then I’m not a real Christian, according to the Pope, who is the vicar of Jesus Christ upon the Earth.
If I don’t accept the assertion that the Watchtower organization is a manifestation of God’s earthly organization, that it’s eschatological views are true and accurate and therefore binding upon all group members to be in good standing within my congregation, and that Jehovah’s Witnesses are the only people carrying out God’s Will on earth today and His only people, then I’m not a real Christian according to the Watchtower and its membership or anyone holding to the Watchtower’s position on said matters.
There are countless other examples I can provide: keeping the Sabbath, observing certain festivals recorded in the Bible… the list really is quite long when it comes to the divisions of believers into their respective groups and organizations in my day.
Some 2,000 years since God destroyed a world by fire, and with it the heavens and the earth of the Age of Moses (or, Mosaic Age)— as manifested by the destruction of Jerusalem, the Temple, and the Jewish Priesthood in 70CE— I am not a real Christian unless I believe that a prophetic deja vu is on the horizon and/or that Jesus is coming again to re-fulfill the Law and the Prophets in my day, soon.
Commandments of men that started through good intention and then took on a life of their own. (See also Proverbs 14:12)
In the end, it leaves no options insofar as fellowship and association, and I prefer life in the wilderness as a believer.
And that’s still where I am, presently.
— Timothy Kline, December 13, 2020