6 November 2016


By John Ollis

I have a Ministry Colleague/Mentor who spend many years in Bible College ministry (he is now in his late 80’s) he has also authored at least 40 books, the majority being on  Theological and Biblical topics. He would ask his students this question:
I have written two recent blogs (yet to be posted) that is the basis for this question. Do you think Calvin or Luther had in their mind “I want to cause a major split in the church”.  To this day they are called Reformers, and ushered in what we call the Reformation. Their desire and intention was to reform the church of their day, for the church to do the “Berean thing” Acts 17 and search the Scriptures, and to go Back to the Bible for their understanding of truth and practice. We know from history the established church violently reacted and rejected what the Reformers had to say, and the Reformers were forced to start new congregations (that became denominations) as they gathered around their teachings.
Did the Anabaptists want to split the established church of their day when they saw the truth of Believer’s Baptism, again I believe the answer is no, again there was a violent reaction that produced churches that baptised Believers by immersion.  
Every major truth that God has restored has caused the same reaction and has produced hundreds of denominations around the world “camped” around their restored truth.
I was in a South East Asian country in 1979 ministering in a large church, and was invited by the Pastor to come to lunch with him, and meet some brothers that had the previous Sunday been publicly disfellowshiped  by their church because they had embraced Charismatic truth. I think it was my Pastor friend’s hope (who was also the head of his denomination that they would join his church. These brothers  decided to begin meeting in a home, then had to move to a hotel because of the dramatic growth they experienced, and eventually purchased a movie theatre, it is now the largest Christian congregation in that nation, and has many local churches across the nation relating to them.
I have said in a recent blog, that I am sure in God’s heart was His desire that the established church of the day, would embrace the restored truth, but sadly they reacted violently and rejected what the Holy Spirit wanted to say to the Church. The Believers who embraced the truth were given little choice but to commence gathering together for worship. Now in the light of the above, let us go back to my question.
Is it ethical for example to deliberately decide “If the church will not accept what we believe to be true, we will deliberately withdraw and take as many people with us and start a new church”. I appreciate that perhaps every circumstance could be different, but I sincerely believe it is unethical to deliberately decide to split a church simply because of a “truth” or a “pet doctrine”.  The fruit from such a decision is always bad, and the hurts and sadness it causes can last for generations, and it can produce such an attitude, that if people disagree with us, we will split off again and again.
We must learn to “speak the truth in love” and humbly seek peace and unity and seek if at all possible to remain in unity with our brothers and sisters. Of course truth is important, but not held onto at the expense of unity.
Many denominations grow their number of churches by accepting splits. I wonder how many denominations even ask the question of a group that want to be part of their denomination “Have you sought to reconcile and live at peace with your church family?
The Body of Christ is wounded over and over again because of immaturity and often childish behaviour of believers.
I know this blog will cause reaction and disagreement from some of my readers, may the Lord help us to seek to promote a spirit of unity, the Psalmist tells us  that when the brethren dwell in unity God commands the blessing Psalm 133.