Majoring on the majors and minoring on the minors?

On various occassions I have initiated to talk with church leaders about topics which have been considered by them to be minor issues not worth putting in the effort to arrive at united thinking on.

The underlying belief of these church leaders has been typical of many church leaders today who believe that we should major on the majors and minor on the minors.

In other words…

We should focus on coming to agreement and applying those biblical doctrines which are the most important to believe and obey while leaving aside issues which are less important and not worth wrangling about.

But…is such a belief biblical?  And does it line up with how the Lord would want us as Christians to deal with doctrinal differences in the Body of Christ?

That there are various degrees of relative importance attached to different things biblically is quite Scriptural.  Jesus Himself made such a distinction in the following verses:

Matthew 23:23

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.”

In other words the Pharisees were guilty of expecting others to obey the Law while they themselves ignored God in not acting justly, extending mercy to others, and being faithful both to God and to their fellow man.

They were hypocrites of the highest order and Jesus called them out as such.

But notice what Jesus said….He did not say or even imply that the relatively less important matters of the Law such as tithing were okay to neglect or ignore.  On the contrary, He said that the Pharisees should have done it all!

They should have acted with justice, been merciful and faithful and should have continued to tithe.

In another set of verses Jesus said this…

Matthew 5:18-20:

“For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Jesus said that whoever annuls, or makes void, one of the least commandments and teaches others to do the same both by their example and by their words, will be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven.  In other words doing such a thing is not good and certainly not in line with what Jesus said to do.

Our righteousness must surpass the righteousness of the Pharisees if we are to rightly lay claim to having true faith in God through Jesus Christ.

The Pharisees did the least to as little a degree as they could while ignoring the greatest.  We are to do the greatest while not ignoring the least.  We are to be obedient to the least while also being obedient to the greatest.

The philosophy of majoring on the majors and minoring on the minors is a way for many church leaders to excuse away the need to come to agreement on things the Bible clearly says but over which there is disagreement.

It negates the need to work toward agreement based on what the Bible says.

It excuses away the need to hold church leaders accountable to what is written.

But such a philosophy runs contrary to what Jesus said.  Where we are to consider all the commands of God as important enough to obey.  The philosophy of majoring on the majors and minoring on the minors gets the first part right.  Of majoring on the majors.  But, it ignores the minors which Jesus said we are also to be obedient to!

Church leaders who believe such a philosophy should, in all frankness, know better.

Such a philosophy is not the way of God for members of the Body.

The Bible is not a matter of one’s own interpretation.  It is possible to come to agreeement both on matters that are weighty and those which are not.  But, we must stick to what is written, giving liberty to believe something different only where there are several perfectly plausible differences of belief supported by what the Bible says.

Many differences found in Christian circles are simply not supported by what the Bible says at all!

Look at what Paul said…

1 Corinthians 4:6

“Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, so that in us you may learn not to exceed what is written, so that no one of you will become arrogant in behalf of one against the other.”

Many of the differences found among Christians today are a result of exceeding what is written. Of not sticking to what the Bible says and adding to it or embellishing what it says in some way.

Many such differences result from arrogance rather than humility before God.  That is what Paul said!

To exceed what is plainly written is to become arrogant against our brothers and sisters in Christ.  It is to believe that we know better than what is written.  That somehow we have superior knowledge, that our brothers and sisters who do not agree with our view and can read the same Bible that we do, do not have.

Some leaders believe that the minor issues are not worth coming to agreement on.  Yet does such a mindset line up with the Lord’s wish for us as His Body?  That we be perfectly united in our thinking and mindset regarding the things of God?

No it doesn’t.

Jesus prayed for us to be one.  Just as His Father and He were one.

Did Jesus and the Father have any area of disagreement?  Of course not!  Then neither should we.

Are we to continue to believe that agreement is not possible in light of Jesus’s prayer?  What are we to make of what He prayed?  Are we prepared to say that what Jesus prayed for cannot possibly come to pass?

Rather are we not to believe that agreement is possible and seek the Lord on how we might come to such an agreement?

The Bible makes it clear that the path to agreement lies through what is written.  Ignoring the minor issues is one way to achieve a pseudo-agreement overall based on our agreement to the major issues (assuming we can agree on what the major issues are) but such agreement does not glorify God.  It does not express the kind of agreement that the Lord wants us to have and that He prayed for us to have.

I want the kind of agreement that Jesus prayed for.  Don’t you?

We need to consider every issue, no matter how minor, important enough to discuss, come to agreement on, and obey.   We dare not discount any doctrine as important enough to discuss if Jesus Himself did not, lest we act with arrogant disregard for issues which, while relatively minor, Jesus commanded us to be obedient to anyway.

The philosophy of majoring on the majors and minoring on the minors inevitably leads to more division and not less.  For what is a Christian to do when confronted with an unwillingness on the part of a church leader to even consider discussing an issue to the point of agreement because it is deemed to be unworthy of discussion as a minor issue?

Their choice comes down to themselves ignoring what the Bible says about an issue or seperating from that leader and church to go find another church that might be more open to the practice of an issue that was considered too minor to even bother with.  The former leads to a person violating their conscience before God to be obedient to what they know while the latter causes more of the division that the Bible condemns.

The way to the kind of unity that Jesus prayed for us as His Body to have lies through an adherence to what is written.  It is possible to arrive at such agreement precisely because Jesus prayed for us to be one as He and the Father are one.

We need to stop justifying our lack of agreement within the Body by walking in a philosophy of pseudo-agreement otherwise known as majoring on the majors and minoring on the minors.  We need to start holding all Christians, whether they be leaders or not, accountable to agree with what is plainly written.

Only as we do that will Jesus’s prayer for us to be one come to be answered in and through our lives to the greater glory and honor of God.



One Comment on “Majoring on the majors and minoring on the minors?”

  1. […] I wrote a new article at the companion blog to this one if you are interested in my take on this. It’s called, appropriately enough…Majoring on the Majors and Minoring on the Minors?. […]

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