Listening to Questions – Biblefacts Live Stream with Ken Johnson 1-17-2019, I was fascinated with a perspective on this verse.
He suggested that Paul, Apollos and Peter may represent Pharisee, Sadducee and Essene schools of doctrine. We could better relate to Evangelicals, Catholics and Pentecostals. Among each of these groups there are those who are strongly loyal to theirs. There are strong disagreements between these schools of thought, often writing the others off as being of the devil. We are certainly quick to denounce the faults we perceive in other schools of thought. There are also many who delight in a broad expression of our shared faith and appreciate the diversity God has created among us. This enables us to minister to the world in different ways – all to the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 11:18 In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval.
‘I follow Christ’ I’ve always understood from the surrounding context as: we don’t follow the teachings of one man. We weren’t saved by Paul’s blood, but rather Christ’s. The twist is that there are those who separate themselves from the church by “following Christ”. This seems really pious. Really, ideally, we shouldn’t be bound to denominational traditions, but the pure word of God and direct communion with him. However we’re not meant to do it alone.
Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds, 25not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
The problem is that when we’re not rooted in a local church, we’ve disconnected ourselves from those who would question any bad doctrine we’ve picked up. This happens also when a church disconnects itself from the wider body of Christ. If we cut ourselves off from the church, we’ve cut ourselves off from those with whom we can gain a deeper understanding of God’s word. This means that as we’re studying the Bible, we may feel inspired with an understanding from the Holy Spirit, which is in fact from another source. To say the Holy Spirit’s shown me how all the others are wrong can be the height of arrogance. This has lead to the prideful downfall of those who have lead sects, ultimately to their deaths. Ken relates how a friend, when requiring answers, shunned their local church and instead picked up some teaching from somewhere, which led to their death.
Reflecting on this personally, instead of adhering to my present denomination, I have tendencies to the ‘I follow Christ’ delusion. Rather than holing myself up in isolation from other believers, I desire to consider many perspectives to form my own. However, I’m wary of much theological thought, particularly of a liberal nature. I must guard myself that I remain accountable to others. I make an effort, when people comment that I’m wrong, to reassure them that this is important to me and it brings balance to the discussion, where my ideas may be extreme. So please continue to respectfully disagree with me – even when I get a bit defensive.
I pray that this is enlightening.