A short while back my friend and brother in Christ, Neal Griffin, wrote a short essay entitled “Beating Around The Bush On Creedal Positions.” In it he pointed out that brethren try to force their “creedal positions upon others as tests of fellowship” and this is not scriptural or reasonable, but heretical, and sets at naught the word of God, producing divisions in the body of Christ which God hates.
After showing that “God’s position, as relates to brotherly association, is LOVE”, and listing the scriptural reasons for withdrawing from a brother, he says the following with reference to our unwritten creeds:
. . . before we attempt to enforce any conclusion, outside of the realm of salvation by grace through faith, as a test of fellowship, we are under obligation to point out the clearly identifiable sin our brother is guilty of and show by the Scriptures that God demands our withdrawal from him. We are under obligation to show that to disagree with our conclusions is to sin against God. We need to be very careful in this, because elevating the importance of our own conclusions could very well result in our “teaching for doctrine the commandments of men”. We need to be very careful to not let our disdain for brethren who disagree with us outweigh the Scriptural admonition to love one another. Let us sincerely try to accept one another, as Christ accepted us, to the glory of God. Let us not reject one another to the shame of God.
We have been doing just what bro. Neal indicates we should not be doing. We have been rejecting one another, not only to the shame of God, but to our shame as well. Our practices as to fellowship have been cowardly, inconsistent, self-righteous, unethical, anti-scriptural, unscriptural, and unreasonable. The cowardly practice of blackballing based upon gossip and intimidation by party leaders and “preachers” is a good example of how brethren ignore the scriptures and avoid establishing “clearly identifiable sin” as the basis for exclusion or withdrawing of fellowship. Many others could be cited. Fortunately many brethren are “awakening” to these kinds of backhanded practices thanks to the insight of such as brother Griffin.