We’ve been here before

From the first decades of the church, controversy over doctrine has troubled us. In the New Testament we have evidence of a deep and divisive debate over what followers of Christ should and should not do.

We find this in many places, but some of the evidence can be found in Acts 15 and 21, Galatians 2, and Romans 14. We see here the church and its leaders wrestling with and disagreeing over what food to eat, among other issues. And we see, especially in Romans 14, Paul’s pastoral wisdom in living within a church divided over doctrine.

Some people might think sex and food do not have a great deal in common, but they are both personal and bodily in ways that are quite intimate. (Maybe these are the words of a fat guy.) They also are both items on the list of particulars of the Acts 15 council.

I don’t know what we would learn from these biblical texts. Perhaps we would all be trapped by our original commitments. Peter and Paul had a tough time working through their differences. James and Paul appear never to have agreed.

Can we learn from the apostolic controversies or merely repeat them?

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3 thoughts on “We’ve been here before

  1. I think that real learning is an experience of transformation. We perhaps learn from the early church cognitively, but we cannot say we understand until the sins in question are overcome in our own lives. Is this sense, we haven’t really learned until we stop the repetition of the sinful experiences that the church, and we, have always experienced.

  2. First the terms used must be clearly defined so there is no confusion and everyone understsnds the terms used.
    To use the term “Doctrine” with the divisions concerning food eaten does not compute.The Christian Church does not exist without doctrine and there is a lot of emphasis put on “sound doctrine” in scripture.
    Maybe doctrine needs to be defined here?

    1. I’m sure there are more technical meanings, but I understand doctrine to be the systematic teaching of the church. In this case, the dietary rules and prohibitions incumbent upon believers.

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