September 2018 Student Newsletter

Should We Agree to Disagree?
Russell Haffner
Russell Haffner (Director)

The "agree to disagree" philosophy has become very common in religious discussions. Some say it does not matter what we believe concerning Bible teaching as long as we all love Jesus. Yes, we must love Jesus (and each other), but that is not all that is taught in the scriptures. Jesus said, "If ye love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15). The apostle John wrote, "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome" (1 John 5:3). From these verses we learn that the commandments (requirements) are crucial. If we love Jesus we will seek to know, obey, teach and defend His word.

The "agree to disagree" philosophy is so dangerous because it has no end. When followed to its logical conclusion it completely removes the importance of biblical truth. This indifferent approach to the Bible is claimed by some to be the solution to the religious division in our world. But what it actually creates is a religion with no system of belief and no doctrinal foundation. The Bible teaches that we should all "speak the same thing" (1 Corinthians 1:10), so agreeing to disagree on doctrine is not a legitimate option.

What we believe and teach is not insignificant or unimportant, it is essential! In matters of the Bible's teaching we must not have an "agree to disagree" approach because there is too much at stake. Casually dismissing the importance of truth will cause souls to be lost. Truth is still the truth regardless of the unconcerned attitude of some. Teaching either agrees with the New Testament or it does not (2 Timothy 2:15). Teaching (doctrine) is either scriptural or it is not (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Based on the truth, one is either in fellowship with God or not (John 17:17, 20-22). One is either abiding in the doctrine of Christ or not (2 John 1:9-11). There is no middle ground of compromise. We must seek the truth both for ourselves and others. The salvation of souls is paramount.

The phrase "agree to disagree" does not appear anywhere in the Bible. God's word teaches that we are to agree. Amos 3:3 asks, "Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?" Paul wrote in Romans 16:17, "Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them." To the Corinthians he wrote, "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 Corinthians 1:10). Almost a year later he wrote to remind them, "be of one mind" (2 Corinthians 13:11).

  • Paul did not "agree to disagree" with those who taught a different gospel message. When he wrote to the congregations in the region of Galatia he said, "I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:6-9).
  • Paul did not "agree to disagree" with two heretics named Hymenaeus and Philetus. Paul warned, "But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some" (2 Timothy 2:16-18).
  • John did not "agree to disagree" with false prophets. He wrote, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1). He did not say it doesn't matter what they teach concerning doctrine as long as we all love Jesus.
  • Peter did not "agree to disagree" with false teachers. In 2 Peter 2:1-2 he warned, "But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed."
  • Jude did not "agree to disagree" with ungodly men. Jude wrote, "For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ" (Jude 1:4). Jude did not teach, that there should be unity at any cost, as some foolishly proclaim today. He never compromised the truth to achieve some imaginary form of harmony.

The key to religious unity and agreement is for all to stay true to the scriptures. Time and time again the Bible tells us not to "add to" or "take away" from God's word (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Proverbs 30:6; Galatians 1:8-9; Revelation 22:18-19). The various opinions of men will not provide unity. The Bible must be the sole basis for achieving true agreement. We must allow the scriptures to have the final say and we must be ready to abandon anything we believe which does not agree with God's word. We cannot simply "agree to disagree" when it comes to matters of faith. We must "agree to agree" with the Bible.

We Want to Hear from You

We hope you are enjoying the free courses provided by the WVBS Online Bible School. The school is designed to give students a comprehensive and in-depth study of the Bible. The lessons are pure non-denominational teaching based on an accurate "drawing out" of what the Bible teaches, not reading into the text what someone might think it teaches. The courses cover every book in the Bible, plus a few additional subjects which help you in your understanding of the scriptures. The 45 courses are currently available to the students for free online viewing. We would love to hear your opinion of the courses. Your comments, suggestions and even criticisms would be appreciated.