Vol.XV No.II Pg.2
April 1978

Fellowshipping Liberals

Robert F. Turner

We are repeatedly, and I do mean repeatedly, asked about "fellowshipping" the "liberals;" and each case must be answered in the light of what the querist means by "fellowship" and "liberal." One -who rejects inspiration, the virgin birth, literal resurrection of Christ, etc., is not my brother in Christ; nor are those who refuse to obey the gospel of Christ. I believe I am in a common relationship (a sharing relationship with God) ONLY with those who believe in the Christ of the Bible, and who seek to follow Him according to Bible teaching. Is this conclusion not related to my understanding of Bible teaching? It is! How else could any conclusion be drawn? This doesn't make truth relative, but certainly makes my response a matter of my convictions — and that is exactly what God expects of me (Rom. 14:5, 12, 22-23; 2 Cor. 4: 13). My understanding doesn't make or break another's s fellowship with God — that is between him and God — but it does affect my concept and response.

I can, and do, believe I have brethren in Christ who are in error in their conceptions of various matters. I recognize my own potential errors. Our common relationship in Christ is not broken because we have different understandings. If we have honest differences we should continue to study together as brethren, seeking divine truth; and I have tried to consistently follow this course. But even while we are studying together, I should not expect him to support, promote, or engage jointly with me in an activity he believes to be contrary to God's will. Nor can I jointly engage in such matters with him. For either of us to do so would be to violate our conscience. My refusal to support his institutions, for example, does not mean that I no longer regard him as a brother in Christ. He can prove we have a common interest in serving God, even as I must do so, by a mutually honest and continued search for God's truth on the matter.

The time could come when I no longer believe he IS making such an effort — and in fact I have found many such cases; but this does not mean that all who accept his conclusions are in the same dishonest boat. I am willing to approach each case on its own merit. I remain aware that my decision is not the equivalent of God's fellowship; but each of us has an obligation to God to act in good conscience and with pure conviction.

It is sinful presumption to assume that because I could be mistaken, I should therefore participate in matters I sincerely believe to be contrary to the will of God.