THE CHRISTIAN CIVIL WAR
by paul hoffmaster
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During the American Civil War over 600,000 soldiers lost their lives as a result of the idealistic promotion of thoughts and undertakings that were interpretations of self-interests. People were drawn onto opposing sides in which each thought they were right. A Nation founded expressly to pursue religious freedom became a Country divided against itself. It was the North versus the South. Federal Government versus State Rights. Anti-Slavery versus Pro-Slavery. Industrialization versus the Cotton Fields. The issues became incendiary coals waiting for someone to strike the match. Families were divided. Politics was birthed with its brother corruption. The world watched as this prototype of God’s earthly Kingdom tumbled into chaos. As difficult as it is to understand how the issues of division could have resulted in such human carnage, it is equally staggering to grasp its similarity to the Christian Civil War.
Satan is the great divider. Ever since Cain and Abel, man has opposed one another over the issue of Religion. God makes it very clear that He hates those “that sow discord among brothers.” (Prov. 6:19b) Yet today, Believers are attacking one another for not understanding Scripture in the same way they do. When Elijah stood before God, after being intimidated by Jezebel, he cried out to God that he was the only one left who was preaching truth. He felt that he was the only true bearer of God’s Word. God listened to the self-absorbed prophet cry out in his despair, and then simply told Elijah that He had seven thousand followers who were still loyal to Him. (I Kings 19:9-18) There is an “Elijah Complex” that has been manifested by so many spiritual leaders today. They feel they are the only ones with a true understanding of the Word. They oppose those who do not share their interpretation, even to the point of verbal attacks and anti-propaganda. John rebuked another Believer for casting out demons simply because that person was not in the same “denomination” as the disciples. Jesus rebuked John by telling him that a person who would do a miracle in His name was not someone to worry about, for if he is not against Him, he is for Him. (Mk 9:38-40) Paul, writing from prison, stated that however the Truth was preached, he rejoiced. (Philippians 1:18)
To hear Pastors and Teachers call their fellow servants false prophets, enemies of Christ, and proponents of Satan’s kingdom grieves me to the point of experiencing a wounded heart. Why can’t the redeemed of the Lord adopt the rhetoric of Gamaliel when the Jewish Council faced the interrogation of Peter? He simply said that if it was not of God, it would not succeed. (Acts 5:38, 39) The Christian Civil War is dividing families, communities, churches and, tragically, the Body of Christ. Satan applauds the disharmony, knowing that as long as the Church is divided, less and less people will be brought into God’s fading Kingdom. Intolerance and exclusiveness seems to be the flag of the Christian nation. Not only is the influx of potential believers being curtailed by the infighting of Christians, but many young Christians are running for the doors to escape the cruelty that is being shown towards one another.
Whenever the servant of God becomes the focal point of the Gospel, there will always be the reality of disharmony. Whenever the messenger of God pronounces destructive criticism, there will always be divisions. Whenever a ministry enters into sectarian theology, there will always be a separation of Believers. Whenever a Pastor/Teacher causes his flock to oppose those who have different interpretations of the Truth, there will always be hindrances to achieving spiritual maturity. May we all strive to see the fulfillment of Jesus prayer that all His followers would be “perfected in unity” so that the world would know who sent Him and would believe in Him. (John 17: 21, 23 NAS)
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Dear Paul, I understand your sentiments and agree that there can be a lot of unloving and hateful behavior and attitudes in the church. BUT, it is also true that we are in a war, and the enemy has managed to gain allies even within the church itself. When you have pastors and leaders denying the resurrection, dismantling or manipulating the bibles teaching to suit the times, and making tolerance more important than truth something has to give. That's why we need to constantly remember Paul's words, "...but do not have love, I am nothing." I Corinthians 13:2 Still, we must contend for the faith in a time of compromise - even if it means confronting leaders - just as Paul did to Peter. Even in the NT, division became necessary to preserve the truth (Acts 19:9). The challenge is deciding which truths to contend for, and doing so in love. Sadly, when people are involved, and the issues are important enough, things can get a little messy. That is why we need love and a big helping of forgiveness.