Dear Brother Adams,
I read your article on heresies with interest. I am persuaded that if “a group or a sect” were under consideration and that those words would have been used instead of the word heresies.
The first thing that I notice is that Paul is addressing the brethren in the Church. With that fact in mind all of the members of a church should have both a possession and have witnessed a profession. The peace of the Church (the obedient children of God) in particular is under consideration; not the peace of the all the people of God.
Your next paragraph correctly tell us that Paul exhorts the members of the Church commending that every member “speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” The question is what causes strife divisions in the church? You cited the scripture that tells us the answer. “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Those that persist in engaging in the works of the flesh should not have an entrance into the Lord’s Church. Those that perpetrate the works of the flesh after they have come into the Church, ought to be rebuked. They that engaged in the works of the flesh (in particular advancing heresies) ought to publicly repent. A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself. The Church cannot have heresies without heretics.
Therefore your “one conclusion” being “that there must be sects or choices among the people of God” seems not to harmonize with scriptures. If a member of the Church refuses admonition to cease from engaging in the works of the flesh (heresies), he should be put out (excluded) of the Church.
I don’t deny that there are some choices among God’s people. Some of God’s people chose to walk in the narrow way and enter through the strait gate. Some having come in may chose to try to broaden the gate or widen the way. These shall suffer the consequences. The heretic can chose to either repent or suffer exclusion. If they heretics refuse to repent and the congregation refuses to excluded them, then that congregation has chosen to harbor heretics and is in disorder. He that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption.
Perhaps I am wrong. I would thank you for correcting my thoughts on this subject.
Dear Elder __________,
Thank you for your email! I have to say that I agree with your premise 99.9%. In your second paragraph, I agree with what you are saying. The key word being “should”. You are absolutely correct that all the members “should” have both a possession and have witnessed a profession. Unfortunately that is not always the case. Even Scripture warns us that there will always be tares among the wheat. In your fourth paragraph, I give a hearty Amen to. I only wish that the assemblies would all adhere to those scriptural admonishments. In your fifth paragraph you mention that “If a member of the Church refuses admonition to cease from engaging in the works of the flesh, he should be put out (excluded) of the church. Again, I heartedly agree.
I guess the one point that I have a disagreement with is your comment that begins paragraph 5. You say: “Therefore your “one conclusion” being “that there must be sects or choices among the people of God” seems not to harmonize with scriptures.” I do believe that it harmonizes with scripture in the fact that Paul very clearly says in 1 Corinthians 11:19; “For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.” Please don’t misunderstand me, I by no means was trying to say that we are to approve of heresies, or accept them and say, “Oh well, there is nothing that we can do because this has to be.” What I am saying is that even after the churches do all that they can, and adhere to the scriptural admonishments, there still will be sects and heresies. Because we are still in this wretched flesh.
I still have a lot to learn concerning the history of the Old School Baptists. And I’m sure you know a whole lot more than me. But if you look at when the Baptists had their split in the early 1800’s, you will notice that here there was a group of people that was like minded in all things, until the Conditional Time Salvation heresy was made an issue. (I think I was off in the timing of this heresy. If I am not mistaken, the first split was over the order of the church, i.e., sunday school, missions, etc. Then the split concerning “Conditional Time salvation” came later. - Tom) Then we see that this heresy was brought into the Church to show who was approved and who was not. You see one group going one way, and the other group staying the same way and going the same direction that they had been going all along. Now my hunch is that if we were to look at the history before this split happened, we would see churches not adhering to the admonishments of Scripture that you bring up. But, ultimately it only happened because it was predetermined by God according to His purpose and plan.
I have just recently been given a copy of a book entitled “The Contest of 1886 - 89” by W.M. Smoot. It is very interesting so far. I am only on chapter 6, but let me quote from it real quick.
“A profile cause of such contest among our people arises from the careless manner of ordaining and baptizing, frequently prevalent among us, and this was true of the time that we are now notice.
“Some young chap wants to preach; assumes a “voluntary humility;” (Collossians; ii, 18:) seems indeed willing to swallow the rod, hook, bait, fish and all in self assumed zeal; all of this appeals to a weak element; and it seems always necessary to have such among us; hence we have an ordination. Such preachers generally, and indeed I might say always must have “souls for their hire,” hence they start out baptizing; and generally those that they baptize are like themselves, consequently we begin to have an inpouring: followed after awhile by an outpouring.
“Preachers of this character and sometimes even abler men get the itch to baptize, hence our ranks are swelled with nominal professors. We know of no preacher in the Eastern States that had this itch more than the late F.A. Chick, who seemed always ready to urge baptizing upon any persons who seemed willing to listen to his advances. In Acts vi, 7, it is written; “And the word of God increased: and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem: greatly: and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.” It requires something more than a mere outward form of obedience to the faith. We read in John xii. 42, of some who believed, (were willing to obey,) but were afraid to make an open confession for fear of being “put out of the synagogue.” After the obedience and baptism of those priests at Jerusalem, we read of trouble among the disciples.”
Chapter 3, Pages 12-13