Why So Many Differences
Among Preachers Today?
I continue to be amazed at all the doctrinal
differences among too many preachers among us today. It seems that on
occasion it is difficult to find but only a hand full of preachers who pretty
well are in complete doctrinal harmony on major subjects. I personally
believe such a condition is sad and reflective of a number of possible and
Let me rush and say that I do not believe the remedy is good "Church of Christ Seminaries." As an ordained Baptist Preacher, I was exposed to their seminary concept and practice. To my dismay, I have encountered many times the same basic mentality among some churches of Christ. Florida College to some serves as "Our Seminary." Special preacher training schools (see addendum 1) are conducted across the country, often by men who themselves are doctrinally flawed in some serious areas. Hence, their deficiencies are often passed on to their students. To be to the point, I find no biblical authority for seminaries or preacher schools, as such. What do the scriptures teach as to how men are to be trained to preach and whose responsibility is it? Consider Paul's answer:
"1: Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2: And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also" (2 Tim. 2).
One reason for all of the doctrinal diversity, I have observed for years, is the special interest groups among us. Yes, the special interest groups are alive and well. "Churches of Christ" fall into a number of classifications, often having nothing to do with doctrinal purity but party loyalty. There are what we call institutional Churches of Christ, those who use their treasuries for matters not authorized, the support of human institutions, simply put. Then there are non-institutional churches of Christ, those who do not support orphanages, etc. Some are so shallow that the only requisite for soundness is a church that does not contribute to human institutions. There are the "Jesus was a man, just like you and me" sector, for lack of a better term. There are the one cuppers, no located preachers, no Bible classes groups (not always the same). Many of non-institutional churches of Christ are characterized by those for Florida College. While they do not send monies (not the churches) to Florida College, as individuals they support the institution. Many of these people view F.C. as vital to the soundness of churches of Christ and look to it for the production of preachers (seminary concept) and elders. Another group has seriously now come into existence known as the Guardian of Truth Foundation. The Guardian of Truth Foundation and Florida College have been warring enemies; albeit, of late, I understand there has been talk to unite to fight their common enemy, those who oppose privately founded institutions to corporately preach the gospel.
Yes, in all honesty, we have many different doctrinal loyalties among us. However, do some serious research and I think you will find that a lot of the doctrinal divergence pertains to various group loyalties. One preacher whom we (Holly Street were I presently preach and serve as one of the elders) supported for years was straight down the line on such issues and marriage, divorce, and marriage to another. However, when he was appointed to be a staff writer for Truth Magazine, a production of the Guardian of Truth Foundation, he suddenly expressed a loyalty to defend the President of the foundation in his teaching of multiple causes for divorce (compare the one cause of scripture, Matt. 5: 32, 19: 9). A sizeable percentage of the men today who are demanding allowance for the multiple causes for divorce doctrine are men associated with this foundation. Florida College has through the years also had certain idiosyncratic doctrinal loyalties, based on the particular teachers at the college at a given time.
Then there is the incidence of men preaching who simply were not even in the beginning qualified. We worked with a man who was a cult member (another segment of "churches of Christ," ran by a female in Denver). He was also a homosexual and confessed to being such. He, while still battling with homosexuality decided he wanted to go into full time preaching. When I made a counter announcement that I did not believe, I had extensively worked with him, he was ready, I met swift and strong opposition: "You have no right to oppose his desire to preach...!" While many do not practice the seminary mentality, some have gone to the other extreme, allow anybody in the pulpit who wants to be there, no exception (cp. Jas. 3: 1). This man "moved his membership" to a local church a few miles from us and the resident preacher there (well known and respected) had him in full time preaching in a short time. The man effected problems across about three states before he finally got out of preaching.
The scriptures command that we all "speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you..." (I Cor. 1: 10). However, the reality is there is too often extensive division on many doctrinal topics of serious importance. Cultural backgrounds can and do often contribute to differences, albeit, they should not. Educational gradation can result in differences and also maturity levels. I believe it is shameful at the various states we have in churches of Christ today. I have now had over two hundred written debates or exchanges, if you will, on the Internet, the majority with preachers within churches of Christ. Not that such is automatically the criteria, but I represent what most preachers used to believe and teach (cp. I Cor. 4: 17). You name it and some body believes and teaches it today.
How can we return to basic doctrinal soundness? The answer is simple, respect the authority of the scriptures and only allow men in the pulpits who are doctrinally sound! (cp. I Tim. 1: 3.) A significant portion of preachers in "churches of Christ" today have no business in the pulpit. Do we not understand that there are qualifications for preachers? (Cp. I Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, etc.) Many are simply men pleasers and hirelings. These men take flight at the first sign of doctrinal or moral threat. Jesus taught:
"11: I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. 12: But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep" (John 10).
Many churches are totally vulnerable to all sorts of doctrinal variation and deviation introduction due to hirelings in the pulpit. We have too many "Church of Christ Preachers" who simply protect their careers and see how many meetings they can schedule. These men never deal with issues within churches. They preach and write endlessly, but never say anything of substance or pertinence (see addendum 2).
Beloved, these reasons and more that we could mention are why "we have so many differences among preachers today"!
Addendum 1: I am not referring to the
simple arrangement of the local preacher working with men, meeting in a class
room at the church building where he labors.
Addendum 2: Thank God for faithful men who love and teach the truth and oppose all that is contrary to the truth. "May their tribe increase."