Agree to Disagree: is this enough?

I read this passage in two different articles I have read recently: What is Community? and Healthy Assembly Life. It has challenged my understanding of unity:

Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. – 1 Cor 1:10 NKJV

Almost everything I have ever understood about unity rests on the principle that we should agree to disagree on “non-essential” issues, but this passage seems to say that we should agree on EVERYTHING! What?! Well, as I thought and prayed about this and from what I gleaned reading those articles that quote this passage I have decided what I think this means (please, please, please correct me if you think this is wrong!): The community of believers should be working to come to the truth together IN ALL AREAS. We should be “speaking the truth in love” and “slow to speak” and “quick to hear” all in an attempt to grow together toward the truth.

It is not enough to have certain areas of our faith that we “don’t touch on” because they are not essential; we need to be able to seek the truth together, learning from and teaching each other in a spirit of love that is willing to hear and be taught by others instead of holding onto certain ideas, not letting others’ even talk with us about those things for fear of an argument or tension. We need to get past the “no religion or politics around the dinner table” and we need to be teachable in all areas.

This is my take? Am I wrong? Is unity achieved through ignoring areas of tension?

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About Dan Allen

Just some guy trying to figure stuff out... View all posts by Dan Allen

4 responses to “Agree to Disagree: is this enough?

  • Ben

    Hey Dan,

    This has been a tough issue for me for a while. I think there are two things which will help it out.
    1) Some truths are relative to the person involved.
    2) God is what we should be seeking after, not truth/knowledge.

    In Romans 14 Paul talks about Food and Days of the week being issues of dispute and calls upon believers to extend grace to those with less faith. He goes further to say that if one of the weaker is persuaded to take action outside of faith it is a sin. In this case then the truth about whether the action is a sin or not is relative to the amount of faith in the person, so which truth do you speak in love? That the action is a sin, or that it isn’t? It is a difficult balance, because you want to help the person grow in faith, but also not cause them to sin. The answer I believe is grace and love and encouragement to seek God who will grow their faith.

    1 Cor 8 starts right out talking about how knowledge produces pride, but Love builds up. Also it says that we do not yet know as we should know. I believe that this is because of living in a world ruined with sin, our imperfect beings cannot have perfect knowledge, only God can. Therefore I would choose to seek to love God more, not increase my knowledge.

    Based on those two chapters I think we should agree to disagree and let God convict each as we seek him. This doesn’t mean that we don’t discuss our views. I believe that discussing non essential issues has given me an appreciation for just how much I do not and cannot know. It let me trust more in God and less in my knowledge. Also there are some views that are in direct contradiction to scripture, and those views should be addressed and rebuked.

    Once again this is just my opinion. It is how I believe that God wants us to live (focused on love and grace rather than knowledge) but I like you appreciate dialog and believe it helps us grow. I also know that I could be wrong, it has happened before.

  • Dan Allen

    Ben,

    great thoughts! I agree that love and grace are MUCH more important than knowledge, but what do you think Paul meant when he pleads with them to”all speak the same thing” and to be “perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” Does this mean that they don’t talk about things they disagree on or is there an implied “on central doctrines” clause in there?

    This is not to say that everyone should agree with me, and it is not even to say that we are talking about knowledge alone, I mean he seems to be talking about knowledge or truth applied when he uses phrases like “same mind,” “same judgment,” and “speak the same thing.” It doesn’t seem that he is just talking about theological debate but real truth applied to real lives.

    I guess what I think (for whatever that’s worth!) is that we should keep ourselves open to learn from each other, not holding on too tightly to our pet doctrines. We all seem to have things that we cling to tightly and are unwilling to really listen to what others have to say.

    Thanks for your participation on here, I appreciate your thoughtful comments!

    -Dan

  • penandpapermama

    I think this also relates to what you have been saying in other posts about our children and what we discuss with them (or don’t…) – and how we need to also be part of the greater family of God – learning together from Father. As we come to know Him more, we will inevitably, I think, open our hearts wider because He is so much greater than we imagine, and longs to draw us out of the box we have tried to create to keep Him safely within our “pet doctrines” (or our pet beliefs about how to raise our children, or how the church should look, etc).

    To be perfectly joined together in the same mind and judgment… we are called to put on the perfect mind of Christ. And we have been given the Holy Spirit, and we have the recorded words of Jesus and the story of the early church to help us with that … but we have also been given each other in the body. And we all have different gifts and differing journeys with our Lord (while all united in Christ), we all have something from Him to share with each other, so we need to listen to each other, learn from each other… and that has to go beyond the “rational” learning our western society favors, and into lives lived together with Him – living out, experiencing, learning together His truth in our real lives together every day.

    In our own families, we certainly don’t agree with each other at every point. Just witness a two year old discovering the word, “No!” … and teenagers questioning nearly everything we’ve taught them. Do we just say, “Because I said so!” or “Obey your parents!” and expect the family to be perfectly united? Or do we work through things together (always trying to keep focused on our core, our relationship with Jesus)? Can we learn from each other? As one of my daughters said the other day, she has learned more about life from her babies than she could ever have imagined. (And I have seen her drawing closer and closer into relationship with Father at the same time, through the processes of marriage and parenting!) It’s the same in the church, isn’t it – Father teaches us through every single member of the body. Sometimes in very astonishing and unexpected ways, if we have our eyes and ears and hearts – and hands (the “real life” part) – open to see, learn, become what He purposes for us.

  • Mark Van Norden

    Dan,

    I think you are right on. We have to be willing to hear from others, and this requires humility. It also requires that we value each member of the body equally. The day we can’t learn from the newest believer is the day we need to repent.

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