The first Christians discussed fraternally their doctrinal differences
Demonstration that discuss among believers about our doctrinal differences is correct
All throughout the New Testament, we see that all of the Apostles and even more so Saint Paul, discussed vehemently, but fraternally about their doctrinal differences, in order to not carry the grave responsibility of preaching a doctrine that was not correct even if he thought it was.
Paul orders Christians to discuss with those that are in error. Nowadays, Christians think that in order to be a “good Christian” religion should not be discussed. What we shouldn’t do is fight, insult or offend, but the true Christian doesn’t do such a thing when he discuss. Paul always advised his disciples and fellow brothers to discuss about religion; and he himself constantly did so in the synagogues, the Areopagus and wherever someone contradicted the right doctrine. Paul, in speaking about how pastors should be, said the following:
“9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. 10 For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision, 11 whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake.” (Titus 1:9-11)
There are many nowadays, who, in contradicting this teaching of Paul, whom they say they imitate, assure that the only things that they have to do is “say”, without using arguments and without trying to convince anyone, and flee if someone contradicts them.
Paul discussed with the Jews and the Gentiles, he used arguments, tried to convince others, etc., because he knew that he had the truth, that he had the blessed doctrine and by having it, he didn’t lack arguments nor the help of the Holy Spirit. The ones who avoid the discussions is because they lack all that Paul had plenty of.
Christians in the first century vehemently discussed their doctrinal differences, but with fraternal love and justice
Therefore, it is not wrong to discuss, as is the opinion of some. To my way of thinking, it is good to discuss, as long as the one who is discussing carries in his spirit the desire to convince the other about something that he sincerely believes in; and as long as in his own spirit he leaves the door of understanding open in such a way that the other one can convince him if the other has solid arguments.
“When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.” (Acts 15:2)
What happens many times is that people do not discuss, but they fight with words, they try to offend, irritate, humiliate their opponent and make fun of him, but a true Christian does not discuss like that. The ones who proceed in this manner are not discussing, but fighting, trying to defeat with weapons not worthy of a just cause. To wield your own arguments, even if at times it is done in a vehement, but never offensive way, I don’t consider bad.
Why many don’t want to discuss
There are many reasons why many believers don’t discuss their doctrinal differences. The main reason is a lack of faith. Some believe that God, Christ or the Holy Spirit were the ones that inspired them with the doctrine that they now believe; others pretend to believe such a thing. Not only that, they do not dare to discuss with those that believe differently, because they feel insecure. They don’t have faith, that if their doctrine is really from a luminous origin, God, Christ or the Holy Spirit will give them light, arguments and words to defend the truth. They don’t have faith in what Our Lord Jesus Christ promised them in Luke 21:15, when He said:
“For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.” (Luke 21:15)
In others what happens is that in reality they don’t believe the doctrine they teach, they know that it is false, that they cannot defend it, and therefore try to find any pretext in order to not discuss their doctrinal differences.
There are still those who believe what they preach, but are not sure, they know that they cannot defend their beliefs and their inflated ego prevents them from discussing if they consider that someone can demonstrate to them that they are wrong. In a few words, they love themselves more than God and His truth. They prefer to hide themselves in the pretext that the only thing they have to do is “speak and flee”, and in this way they save their egos because they believe that no one will find out that they are wrong.
None of them is going to admit that it is because of these questionable reasons that they do not discuss. They are going to put a better pretext.
Various passages where we see that the first Christians discussed about their beliefs
There are believers that have erroneous doctrines that are even heretical, which they absorbed at the time of their conversion, when they could not yet reason about the Bible on their own. Even though they do not have any basis to sustain their beliefs, they wish to maintain them at any cost, because they are afraid, but they don’t know what they fear if they lose that doctrine, and that is why they don’t discuss about it. The healthy custom about the validity of the discussions and argumentative disputes among believers can be appreciated in the following passages.
“17 Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market, daily with them that met with him. 18 Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said: What will this babbler say? Other some: He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods; because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.” (Acts 17:17-18)
“And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.” (Acts 18:4)
“And he came to Ephesus, and left them there, but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews.” (Acts 18:19)
“For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the Scriptures that Jesus was Christ.” (Acts 18:28)
“And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God.”
“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” (I Thessalonians 5:21)
“16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (II Timothy 3:16-17)
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”
(I Peter 3:15)
In all of these passages, we perceive that it was the custom of all of the Apostles to discuss about religion with the believers and the non-believers. I do not know where many believers have come up with such “disgust” for the fraternal discussion of our beliefs, unless if it is the fear of their ego being hurt if their arguments are erroneous. There are, however, those who their sect prohibits them from discussing, so that the errors and heresies of these sects are not seen.
“Discussions are like light, it only bothers those that prefer darkness.”
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