Christian vs. Christian: Conclusion
I began posting on this topic back in August (it has been almost five months now) and I am very happy that I did (please read my introductory post for why I started this series). I have been very disillusioned with how Christians go about treating each other. I knew that in John 13:34-35 Jesus gave the disciples a new command:
34 “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another.
35 By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Using this standard there sure don’t seem to be many disciples of Jesus these days since there seems to be a lot more disdain than love being shown to one another.
When preparing for the series I did an internet search and found a blog post (see How Should Christians Treat Each Other?) that listed 44 passages in the New Testament that described how we Christians should treat each other. I published posts on three of those passages (John 13:34-35, Ephesians 4:2, and Romans 12:10) before I discovered that Robert Dean had pulled together the information I was looking for as part of his study of the epistle to the Hebrews. He called this the Doctrine of “One Another.” During the weeks that followed I was able to gather together a fairly complete recreation of that doctrine which used 18 of the “one another” passages.
In my last post on the Doctrine of One Another (see Christian vs. Christian: Hebrews 10:24-25 Part VIII) there were three passages listed that had prohibitions regarding how we are not to treat one another (all of the other passages I dealt with were “positive” commands on how to treat one another). So we have instructions on how to treat one another along with instructions on how not to treat one another, this makes for a rather air tight set of commands. Reviewing all of the passages it is clear that we have a duty toward other Christians to be patient and to treat them in a way that encourages spiritual growth and builds up the body of Christ rather than tear it down.
That begs a question that I have seen addressed many times on the internet: what about Christians who are unrepentant and refuse to follow biblical mandates? Are we really supposed to be patient and tolerant toward their worldly behavior? Of course the short answer is “no” but I don’t believe that we have a free hand in how we treat these fellow members of the body of Christ even if they are apostate.
At one time I worked up a post on the Doctrine of Separation that I had been taught many years ago (see Biblical Separation) and I still stand by what I said in that post. I have witnessed other believers exercising biblical separation toward other believers (which is necessary at times) but in a way that seemed petty and mean (which is never necessary). After going through these posts on the Doctrine of One Another I am more convinced than ever that we Christians need to re-evaluate how we treat other believers.
It may help to provide any readers with a bit more of my background which should provide some context. I first heard the Doctrine of Biblical Separation from the pastor of my youth who was R.B. Thieme, Jr. For anyone who is not familiar with his teaching, he was a very dynamic teacher who knew the bible like few others. He could also be very abrasive at times which wasn’t always a good thing. I think it is fair to say that he practiced the Doctrine of Biblical Separation as a matter of policy. His church was not a part of any denomination or conference. He did have a yearly pastors’ conference many years ago until someone floated the idea that they should form a denomination. At that time he quit having pastors’ conferences and justified it by saying that he “didn’t want to be the Pope.” In fact I remember him saying on many occasions that “the only reason there are denominations is that most pastors are weak sisters who need to lean on each other for support.” Like I said, he could be abrasive at times.
So, basically Colonel Thieme (that’s what we called him) cut his church off from as much outside noise as he could and focused on teaching the scriptures. Any issues of separation that came up within his church were not made public (I am sure he invited many people to leave his church over the years). While that might seem extreme to many Christians it is certainly closer to the biblical model than what I have witnessed from other Christians (some of them being quite well known) with a presence on the internet.