Disputable Items, Part 2: What Is Disputable?

Well, I’m continung to take a crack at a divisive topic. It might be more accurate to say “a set of divisive topics”. These are the things that church splits are made of. I’m going to mark this one as an “Editorial” because these are my opinions. If you haven’t read the 1st article, “What Is Not Disputable?”, then you should now. Does something that makes this list unimportant? No, of course not. However, it means that it does not directly affect salvation. As a result, some of these may surprise you.

I am going to mark the “disputable” doctrines with a capital ‘D’ and then a number. Some items will be not required, not because they are explicitly stated, but rather than they are corollaries of a given inessential doctrine. These items will the marked with a capital ‘C’ and the corresponding disputable number. If there is more than one corollary, they will be marked with lowercased ‘a’, ‘b’, etc.

D1: The Trinity.

A very divisive topic, I know. However, please consider that if someone believes in Jesus, has repented, has been baptized and keeps God’s Laws, then how can this prevent them from entering the Kingdom? Let’s not model our ideas after the world’s, but that includes calling people heretic over definitions of what “One” means.

Having said that, though, it is doubtful that someone this deceived is really saved. Furthermore, just because it is “disputable” doesn’t mean that they should be allowed to become teachers and teach these things.

D2: Circumcision.

I would maintain that the circumcision has not changed. Descendants of Abraham, but none other, are required to be circumcised. Abraham’s covenant was “an everlasting covenant” (Ge 17:7). Yet, with the strong opinions that Paul puts forward in the Gospels, it is hard to view it is a salvation issue, even for those descended from Abraham.

Gentiles, those who were not descended from Abraham, are not required to be circumcised, and that is quite clear from Ac 15.

D3: Make-up.

This has been an annoying off-again, on-again, off-again topic throughout the modern history of the COG. It’s time to grow up. Do we really have nothing better to spend our time on?

Job was a righteous man who was severely afflicted. Would he after that affliction risk the wrath of God even in the smallest way?

So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses.

He had also seven sons and three daughters.

And he called the name of the first, Jemima; and the name of the second, Kezia; and the name of the third, Kerenhappuch.

~ Job 42:12-14

“Kerenhappuch” = “qeren” + “puwk”. “Puwk” is H6320 in Strong’s. It means, “antimony, stibium, black paint, a) eye cosmetic” (http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/Lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H6320&t=KJV). Job seemed not to have a problem naming his daughter “Horn of eye make-up”.

This isn’t to say that women should be made up like prostitutes, but, like just about everything else, its use in moderation doesn’t seem to go against the Bible.

D4: Birthdays.

Isn’t it about time to drop listing things as “sin” unless the Bible says it is a sin? Just because pagan kings celebrated their birthdays does not, in and of itself, make moderate celebrations for someone’s birth wrong. Pagan kings also ate food, drank wine and bathed, so are those sins as well?

Any celebration can be a sin if done in a riotous manner. That doesn’t make the object of the celebration wrong, but the manner of the celebration.

D5: The end-time Elijah.

This, to me, is just further proof that some people have nothing better to do than bring up ways to divide people. I’m not talking about if there’s an end-time Elijah, but who the end-time Elijah is. Friends, Mr Armstrong has been dead for 23 years. If he was the end-time Elijah, then God certainly has a quirky sense of humor.

C6: Mr Armstrong restored many truths to the Church, but “The 18 Truths” he restored still need to be validated against Scripture.

It is important to point out that there actually are conflicting lists of these 18 truths, and that the seemingly official one was compiled by Joe Tkach!

D6: Church government.

OK, there actually are people who teach that to be saved you must repent, be baptized, keep God’s Law and yield to a certain type of Church government. What verse is that?

Make no mistake about it, God’s Kingdom consists of 1) King, 2) subjects, 3) land and 4) government (including laws and enforcement). However, we are not told how to organize the Church in order to carry out our mission in these days. We are simply told what to do and expected to do it.

D7: Belief in more than 2 resurrections.

The words “second resurrection” and “third resurrection” are not found in the Bible! God could just raise people up at the 2nd resurrection and immediately throw the recalcitrant into the Lake of Fire, after all. He does this with the Beast and False Prophet right before the Millennium, so why not? Not associating with someone who believes in only 2 or believes in 3 resurrections is a little silly, isn’t it? Some even teach 4! Not sure how they get that, but is this really that big of a deal? Scripture talks about a “first resurrection”, so it is obvious that there is more than 1, but any beyond 2 must be inferred from the wording of Scripture.

D8: Belonging to xyz COG.

I get disgusted by church (lowercased ‘c’) leaders who split up friends and even families because “they belong to the wrong church”. Do they believe in the fundamentals? Do they adhere to the Not Disputable doctrines? Then leave them alone!! The body of Christ is a spiritual body. Appropriating the prerogative of God to work through whoever He wishes is the height of arrogance.

While I’m on this subject, the reluctance of some groups to cooperate with other groups that have almost the same exact beliefs is bewildering. Are we the body of Christ, or are we babes in preschool? Frankly, I had no problem one Thanksgiving going to a Baptist Church to help feed the homeless. Are we less compassionate than they are? Some people, including church leaders, need to learn what spiritual maturity is.

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.

~ Mk 9:38-41

We don’t have to condone certain teachings to be in cooperation with another group. No one is going to reasonably assume that 2 groups working together will have the exact same beliefs any more than you can assume that just because 2 people attend the same church they will believe 100% alike. Again, people differed in Paul’s day, and that’s why he wrote about “doubtful disputations”. Notice that we are to receive “him that is weak” (Ro 14:1). Are we spiritually mature, or are we in spiritual preschool?

D9: The calendar.

This is another way people dream up to divide people and get a following for themselves. You know, God is a lot smarter than I am. Yet, I know that if I call India, they are 10-1/2 hours ahead of me if I am sitting in New York, unless of course it is during daylight savings time when it is 9-1/2 hours difference. If you tell God you are using the Hebrew calendar (I don’t agree that it is a “sacred calendar”), do you think He’s smart enough to figure out when the Holy Days are?

I’ve read everything on the subject, and I’ve seen nothing that convinces me that their method is any better or worse than just using an already established calendar. God does not spell out how to determine the entire calendar in His word, unless you want to use observation. That begs the question, though, observation from where? How is a technical society going to work without planning a few years in advance? You would have to calculate the calendar anyhow. Furthermore, the Hebrew calendar has been found to be one of the most accurate in existence, much more so than our Gregorian calendars. There simply isn’t a good reason to change it, and God’s word doesn’t even tell us much about it.

The worst part about it is that time should be a way to synchronize activity. Arguing over the calendar does the opposite. It means people are keeping the Holy Days on different dates.

This list could go on, of course. These are just some of the things that some have enough time to make a big deal out of. I will repeat that this issues are not necessarily unimportant, but that does not make them salvation issues.

But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.

~ Ro 14:10-13

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