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"Handling diversity of beliefs in Christianity"
An essay by Ron and Karen Schwartz

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What Is Truth?

What Christian does not believe that they know “the truth?” Who among us cannot point to some scriptural foundation for his system of beliefs? Are there any of us who cannot point to a rich heritage of prominent Christian leaders who act as an endorsement of our faith? Yet with all this “proof,” each of our respective versions of the truth remains in conflict with each other. If another Christian’s version of the truth has scriptural support and the endorsement of Christian leaders, how do we know our version of the truth is correct?

We can’t. In reality, no one has the market on the truth.

How do I know this?

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Knowing In Part:

1 Corinthians 13:9 KJV: "For we know in part, and we prophesy in part."

Our knowledge comes “in part.” In other words, no one’s knowledge is complete, even though most of us like to believe we know it all. We always laugh when we hear people speak of their interpretation of Revelation and Daniel as though they understand it completely. Historically, no one has ever known the exact meaning of prophecy until after the prophecy has come true. Because each of us has a unique perspective, our knowledge may seem contrary – as with two persons, one situated on each side of a road. To one person, a car is traveling to the right. To the other, the same car is traveling to the left. Therefore, everything we know is incomplete. We cannot attribute our experience or knowledge to truth since our knowledge is based on our situation and perspective. Truth must be universal. Only Christ Jesus, His experiences and His relationship with God is the only real truth. When we enter into relationships with this view, we will no longer regard ourselves as right and others wrong, because we are both right and both wrong. When we have this perspective, there remains nothing to divide us.

The scriptures teach us that Christ gave “…some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive (Ephesians 4:11-14).” Here we find that the purpose of ministers is not to separate and segregate into little empires around pet doctrines, nor is it to create denominations. The purpose of ministry is to bring about unity – unity in the body of Christ as a whole, not to just those that follow us. If your ministry is not moving toward this type of unity, then are you truly part of the ministry of Christ?

Many pastors attempt to justify their divisive function in the body of Christ by claiming that their own little group is moving toward “unity.” But if God had this in mind, then He would have said here the purpose of ministry is to bring each individual church group into unity. He would not have spoken of the body of Christ as a whole.

Let there be no mistake, as long as pastors are separating themselves and their congregations from others, there will be NO unity in the body of Christ, and they are not operating as a part of the ministry of Christ. Furthermore, as long as minister like this be allowed to operate the body Christ will remain weak and ineffective.

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Are Ye Not Carnal?:

1 Corinthians 3:3 KJV: "For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?"

Mark 9:38-41 KJV: "And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part. For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.

We find in these passages a tendency for people to separate and to segregate. What reason did the disciples give for needing to separate? They tried to justify their action by saying that “he followeth not us.” Was this explanation acceptable to Christ? Absolutely not. Nevertheless, Christian leaders continue to use this same excuse as though Jesus will make exception for them. Paul asks those who separate, “Are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” Therefore, meetings as segregated believers must not be our goal. Christian leaders must discourage segregation and learn to prevent it if the body of Christ is to grow.

When we separate according to our systems of belief (doctrine), we are acting on the false belief that we are right and all others are wrong. We make the assumption that we have all of “the truth.” In this respect, truth is relegated to the position of being nothing more than intellectual knowledge. This is where many Christian leaders go astray. Truth is not knowledge. In fact, truth is not your system of beliefs or your doctrine. Truth is alive because the truth is Christ (“I am the way, the truth…”). Your doctrine is, at best, dogma.

Test yourself to see if you are walking and growing in truth: have you or do you separate yourself from others who do not believe as you do? If your answer is yes, then you do not know what the truth is. Man’s truth separates, whereas Christ’s truth brings unity.

Truth does not divide God’s people. It draws us to God and therefore draws us together around Him. Many Christian leaders miss this and rally around certain scriptures (what they perceive as truth) rather than the One who wrote them. This is from whence division comes. Without Christ at the center, we have only our dogma. But when we lift up Christ, our doctrine falls into the background, and that which divides us fades away.

Unity is not when we all believe the same thing. Unity occurs when we all love the same God. Unity transcends our systems of beliefs (systems based on our partial understanding) because unity is spiritual. Unity is therefore the creation of God in the hearts of those who love Him. Only those who love Him can love one another and know unity (truth). As a result, those who refuse to love and embrace unity can never know truth.

What if there were no Bible? What if you lived in a country where there was no access to any kind of Christian literature? What if all you knew was the simple plan of salvation and that Jesus loves you? What, then, would divide you? Nothing!

God does not divide us; our false perceptions of knowledge do. Paul wrote, “…We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth (1Corithians 8:1).” Our doctrines have accomplished very little aside from keeping God’s people separated and in battle with one another. This is because our doctrines do not represent complete knowledge (and therefore the whole truth).

Christian leaders who rally their followers around a certain doctrine and reject others who do not adopt their views have exalted “knowledge” to a place it was never meant to have: superior to, or above, brotherly love (charity). Leaders like this do not really know God because “he that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love (I John 4:8).” Those who would defend such divisive behavior as a function of their love for others are deceived. True love does not reject based on doctrine. And it is love, not knowledge, which is eternal. We should be cultivating that which is eternal rather than that which is temporal.

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Thousands Of Thousands:

Revelation 12:3-4, 7-8 KJV: "And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. ...

And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.

The first thing Satan does is to draw “the third part of the stars of heaven,” or angels, away from God. He carves out his territory. He wants to own that which he believed belongs to him. This is a mark of arrogance. Satan became so arrogant that he eventually challenged God. God would not tolerate a divided heaven. So He casts Satan down from heaven along with those angels who gave him their allegiance.

So here is the question: why would God endorse on this earth something that He does not allow in heaven? In the following verses, we find the heaven God has designed:

Revelation 7:9-10 KJV: After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands. And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.

Revelation 5:9-12 KJV: And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.

What is wrong with this picture? First of all, the idea that God’s people would ever come together around anything is pure fiction, is it not? How is it that God’s people on this earth insist on separating themselves into groups, local churches, and denominations that reject other people and groups, yet somehow believe that things will be different in heaven? If they cannot get past their differences here on earth, how can they expect that it will be any different in heaven?

These scriptures describe a heavenly place that is unified under one Lord. There are no pet doctrines that separate God’s people here. They are one people who are rallied around the throne of God. If doctrine is so important to God that He wants His people divided now on earth, then why don’t we find the same thing in heaven?

Of course, someone will say, “When we get to heaven, God will let us know the truth.”

So are we to understand that people who fight viciously over scripture now will just accept it then? Why wait? Why not tell us now who is right? Why play these games? Why allow people to wander in confusion and fight with one another? Doesn’t God care that His church is divided? Why does He tolerate a church at war with itself?

God doesn’t! Christendom is the creation of Christian leaders; it does not follow God’s architecture.

It is not God who wants His people divided along party lines. It is men. As Satan did in heaven, Christian leaders separate God’s people because it works well for them. They can measure what belongs to them and what belongs to others, and thereby they can discover who has the most toys.

But God hates such behavior, as we see here:

2 Sam 24:2-4, 9-10 KJV: 2 For the king said to Joab the captain of the host, which was with him, Go now through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan even to Beer-sheba, and number ye the people, that I may know the number of the people. And Joab said unto the king, Now the LORD thy God add unto the people, how many soever they be, an hundredfold, and that the eyes of my lord the king may see it: but why doth my lord the king delight in this thing? 4 Notwithstanding the king's word prevailed against Joab, and against the captains of the host. And Joab and the captains of the host went out from the presence of the king, to number the people of Israel. ...

And Joab gave up the sum of the number of the people unto the king: and there were in Israel eight hundred thousand valiant men that drew the sword; and the men of Judah were five hundred thousand men. And David's heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the LORD, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O LORD, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly.

It wasn’t the number being known that angered God but the motivation for seeking it. As Satan did in heaven, leaders on earth want to have control over that which belongs to God. They may call it “having spiritual authority,” “being responsible,” or whatever their rationalization catch phrase of the day may be, but the true motivation is to obtain that power which comes with numbers. And to grow in power, they need more and more. When people seek to divide God’s people, they are essentially numbering the people of God, and such behavior angers God.

Consider the following scripture:

Matthew 7:22-23 KJV: Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Who could this be talking about? Such works as casting out devils, prophesying, and other “wonderful works” are not typically attributed to the average Christian (not that they shouldn’t be). It is, however, what many Christian leaders claim to be doing. Could it be that Christ was not directing His comments at the masses of believers but to Christian leaders who separate and segregate? When we consider the “ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands” of God’s people who are gathered around the throne of God in unity, perhaps unity will be possible then because those leaders who divide will be missing.

Consider the nature of such leaders who reject other groups and keep tight control over God’s people. Are we to believe that upon getting to heaven they will simply release their people to God and worship God alongside them as mere equals? Or will they hunt down their followers and carve out their little part of heaven? Will not such a leader even be willing to challenge God’s authority? Does such an event sound familiar? Does it sound like something that happened in heaven before? Could it be that it is exactly what happened to Satan? Could it be that His pride elevated Him to a position where he believed that his angels belonged to him and therefore felt justified in rejecting God’s rule?

Just as it did for Satan, the throne of God (the leading of God’s Spirit) poses a threat to many Christian leaders. They do not want people following the leading of God’s Spirit because the Spirit’s instruction may not be in the leader’s best interest. They could lose control. They will not admit it, but their actions belie them. So most leaders will either discourage people from following the Spirit or encourage them to follow in the leading of the spirit they say THEY “feel” (manipulating others to believe they are not spiritual unless they “sense” or “discern” as the leader does).

So, if they do not want (allow) God’s leadership over His people on earth, why would they accept it in heaven? Instead, like Satan, they rebel against the authority of God by making people follow them: they essentially gather up their stars of heaven.

Make no mistake: any Christian leader who believes that God condones the segregating of His people is challenging God’s authority.

They may be able to get away with it on this earth that is controlled by Satan, but it will not be tolerated in heaven. If Christian leaders cannot learn to get it right here, they will not be part of God’s heavenly kingdom.

Satan has convinced many Christian leaders that his ways of separation and control are the ways of God, but this is just a delusion. They blindly follow in the folly of Satan, thinking it to be the wisdom of God. However, God has made it perfectly clear in the scripture that brotherly love and unity, not segregation, is the mark of His people.

After fighting a war to eliminate a divisive leader from heaven, why would God bring to heaven more leaders driven by the same pride just to see history repeat itself? Instead of having a single divisive leader bent on control and separation, God now finds that He has tens of thousands all wanting their share of heaven.

We can promise you that this will not be the case.

Christian leaders who insist on separating and segregating God’s people will be on the outside saying, “I don’t understand! What did we do wrong? Have we not shown people the truth? Have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? What have we done wrong?” These foolish leaders will never understand that in following after the ways and nature of Satan, the great accuser and divider of God’s people, they have taken him as their father just like the foolish angels of a previous dispensation.

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If your leadership is not working toward the unity described in Revelation, then you, like Satan, are separating God’s people, and you are responsible for dividing the army of God. You will one day find yourself on the outside looking in. You want to know what God really wants? Read the description of the heaven in Revelation 5 and 7.

Fred Waitzkin wrote a book titled Searching For Bobby Fischer. The book (which later became a movie) is the true account of his son Josh Waitzkin, a chess prodigy whom many believed would become Bobby Fischer’s successor. At one competition described in the book, it is the parents, not the children, who are warned not to misbehave. However, once the competition begins, a brawl between some parents ensues. When all the parents are removed to a locker room as a result, the children begin to cheer. It is interesting that the children had no problem getting along together. The problem was with the parents. The children recognized that their parents’ motivations had taken the fun out of the competition. When God’s people get together outside of the influence of Christian leaders, they have no problem embracing unity and brotherly love, having fun. It’s the Christian leaders who fail to get along, not the people of God. What does this tell us?

It is not Christians but their leaders who want to keep people separate. We can just see the world ending and every true Christian opening his eyes to the beauty of heaven. They look around to find thousands and tens of thousands of their brothers and sisters there. But where are all the Christian leaders? Where are the heads of their denominations? Where are all the people who insisted on keeping them separate? Now free of the bondage of division, God’s people can finally enjoy the unity of God’s Spirit the way it was meant to be. God will not have leaders in His court who will challenge His authority.

Concerning truth, Jesus said this, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (John 8:32).” Since no doctrine has the power to change lives or to free people from sin, truth is not doctrine. Truth is alive. Truth is full of power. So if you claim to know the truth, you must be talking about Jesus, not doctrine. Truth and doctrine are not the same thing. Doctrine is knowledge, and knowledge, at best, “puffeth up (1 Corinthians 8:1).” Knowledge is the source of pride, which in turn is the source of division. Truth is the sweetness of God’s Spirit in the hearts of those who love God.

We realize that every pastor who separates his people does so because he believes that he is protecting his people from others who do not accept (his version of) “the truth.” But his real motivation is to protect “his property” and “his truth.” Real truth frees us from the fear of those who are different. Truth frees us from the pride of wanting people rallying around us and our doctrines. Truth makes us free. It does not create bondage.

Christian leaders, we beseech you to stop following the prideful ways of Satan that direct people away from Christ toward you and your particular cause and doctrine(s). You are fighting against God and His authority, and you are the one who will ultimately lose out. God will not allow it to happen again. You will have no part of His heaven. Find the truth, and you will discover mercy, forgiveness, brotherly love, and unity. Find the truth, and you will discover that it has nothing to do with your doctrine(s). Find the truth, and, at its center, you will discover the heart of God.


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Additional messages by Ron and Karen Schwartz can be found at: http://members.triton.net/

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Site navigation: Home page > Visitors' essays > here

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Original posting: 2007-JAN-16
Latest update: 2007-JAN-16
Author: Ron and Karen Schwartz, at:
kmsrjs@triton.net. They have granted permission "to post this article, publish and reprint it, and to forward it to others and to your groups." 

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