In 1970, I was a member of a house-church. The Pastor had a Baptist understanding of the Bible while the homeowner was Pentecostal. It did not take long for differences of opinion to surface between the Pastor and the homeowner over the doctrine of eternal security. My inclination was to believe "once saved, never lost," but I never engaged in any of the debates.
Those conversations, over a period of months, became heated and turned into confrontations which eventually expanded to include others and the end of the house-church.
Heated debates among church people do no good. No one is going to change as a result of arguing. Someone within hearing distance may take offense at the arguments. There may be a lost person in the group who will use the arguments he or she is witnessing as reasons never to be involved in church again. Eschatology (the study of end-time events) is a hot topic these days and subject to discussion, debate and argument.
Taking to heart what the Bible states about such heated debates will end them. (Parenthesis are mine and intended as commentary.)
1. "Prove all things, hold fast that which is good." 1 Thessalonians 5:21, KJV. Can you prove your positions? If not, try not to hold too fast (tenaciously) to them.
2. "Do you have a conviction (about a secondary theological point that other godly Christians may disagree with passionately)? Keep it to yourself...." Romans 14:22, Holman Translation. Obviously, the context of this verse does not apply to pastors who in the performance of their God-called duties preach the entire Word of God. Even Jesus made some hearers upset.
3. "Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives tales...." 1 Timothy 4:7, KJV. If you feel the other person's doctrine is wacko, then have nothing to do with it, including spending your time in discussion about it.
4. "...the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty (tricks), (do not allow your minds to) be corrupted (misled away) from the simplicity that is in Christ." 2 Corinthians 11:3 KJV. I realize there is some controversy about this verse, but let me state it this way; if a doctrinal position is too difficult for a 10-year old saved person to grasp the basics of that position, there is probably something amiss with the doctrinal position, not the 10-year old.
5. "Have salt in yourselves, (so you can)...be at peace with one another." Mark 9:50, KJV. When there is heated argument between brothers and/or sisters in Christ about anything, there is not enough godly-salt in any of the participants.
6. Eschatology is not a major biblical doctrine beyond the following three points.
A. The Lord Jesus Christ is coming so be ready all of the time. (Luke 18:8).
B. The Anti-Christ will be revealed before the Rapture. (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3).
C. The Jews will be gathered together in their own land before the end can occur. (Ezekiel 11:17).
Other things are listed by many as signs of the end of the world as we know it (the start of the Tribulation Period), but I assure you, every other thing can be argued today and has been argued for more than two-thousand years for or against with some degree of viable reason among learned, sincere and godly theologians; hence, the fodder for discussion and/or disagreement.
For those whose major theological points regarding eschatology include more than the three points noted in 6A, B and C above, that is great. I refer those folks to points 1, 2, 3, 5 and 7 of his article.
7. Romans 14 deals with a secondary point and not a major Bible theme. When it comes to secondary points, "one person esteems one (teaching)... as better than another (person's teaching)....another (does not)...." Each should be fully convinced in his own mind." Romans 14:5, KJV. If you are convinced, that is great. Limit your verbal expression of your position to:
A. Those who are positive towards hearing it.
B. Those who may be edified by hearing your views.
C. Or, at the very least, season your opinion with a lot of godly-salt.
Do not pick on other people's theological scabs. Most people get upset when you make them bleed.
People come to theological conclusions about end-time events based on their approach (premises) to the topic. If you cannot appreciate the person's conclusions, at least show some respect if they have anything decent in their approach (set of premises). Some people, like me, discover their excitement and deepest interest revolving around end-time events limited to the things that are easily agreed on by most Bible students. Others get excited about things they think about end-time events that leave me scratching my head in bewilderment. Good for them. They might be right. I love to investigate anything that might have merit. If they are sincerely seeking truth, they have my respect for their interest and time investment in their study of eschatology. Revelation 1:3 promises them a special blessing and I receive a blessing being in their presence when they get Holy Spirit enthused about eschatological possibilities that excite them.
Rev. Joda Collins
I make no claim that my views are shared by anyone else.