Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.Romans 14:1 NIV
In this chapter, Paul gave instructions about what he called disputable matters. And he identified two of them. Eating meat sacrificed to idols is not an issue today. But sometimes the specialness of days is. Is the Lord’s day more significant than the rest of the week? Should Christians celebrate Christmas or other holidays?
Other disputable matters today might include worship styles, church organization, and Bible translations. Should we use instruments in our worship? And if so, which ones? Hymns or choruses? Worship team or song leader? Congregational, presbytery, or hierarchical government? KJV or NIV?
The thing about disputable matters is that there is no clear-cut right or wrong concerning them. The Scripture does not address them directly. And we can potentially take either side with a clear conscious.
While it is probably OK to discuss these matters among ourselves. We should not argue and fight about them. And, especially, don’t pass judgment over another who does not hold to your position. Especially a brother or sister in the Lord who is new to the faith or not well grounded. Rather than arguing about disputed matters, choose instead to love and nurture them in the faith. Work at lifting up rather than tearing down.
Paul’s instruction to us about disputable matters would also seem to have an application to many of the theological issues that all too often divide us. We will argue about the doctrines of election, creation, end times, inspiration, baptism, and many more. And we use the Scripture to support our positions, as do those on the other side of the debate.
I have participated in several online groups that debate theological matters. And I find it sad how passionately some folks defend a particular position, oftentimes attacking anyone who differs from them. Some of the things we disagree on are indeed important and even critical. But all too often, they are not really matters of great significance. And yet those seem to be what we spend the most time on.
How much better it would be if we would tone down the rhetoric, accept that we have different positions, and learn to work together as the body of Christ. This is not a call to compromise or water down our faith. But it is a challenge to love one another within the body of Christ and to accept those who hold to a disputable theological position that is different than ours.