October 1981

Act Like Christians

Robert F. Turner

We are frequently asked how to stop the wrangling and/or prolonged disagreements that occur in adult Bible Classes — and that is equivalent to asking how to make Christians act like Christians. This article won't do it; it cannot be "ordered;" and even preaching a sermon will not necessarily do it. People are not "taught" until they receive the teaching. When all babes in Christ are mature; when all become completely objective in their approach to God's word; when opinions give place to a humble faith that hungers for truth; and we learn to love one another as God loved us; then wrangling and strife will cease.

Differences will not cease. Honest and good men, each striving to know truth, will arrive at different conclusions because we reason with our background of experiences, and no two have identical backgrounds. But two men with singleness of spirit (one in their desire to know and live by gospel truth, Phil. 1:27-2:2) will become a "team" in their endeavor to do that. They will help and welcome help of one another. Differences in things essential (matters of faith) will be erased, and other differences will be seen as inconsequential.

Bible Class discussions should be the ideal place for this process. We should realize that none of us "know it all." "Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know" (1 Cor. 8:1-2). We may assume that any teacher worth his salt has made some special study of the lesson and is prepared to open new and wider vistas for us, but no teacher is infallible. The good teacher is still learning like the rest of us, and welcomes further research and constructive comments. When brethren treat each other with respect, try to understand the others view, charge no ulterior motive nor disavowed consequences; then the "exchange" of views becomes stimulating and profitable. The teacher (or writer) who hasn't learned such ethics has no business occupying such a position.

But the class must also practice restraint. The teacher is due certain considerations for the good of class order and decorum. If disagreement cannot be resolved within reasonable time limits, the matter should be put off to allow for further study, and to keep from disrupting class procedure in general, and babes in Christ in particular. Some discussions might best be resumed in private, or in panel discussions by better prepared men. If Christians cannot act like Christians it is better to stop the class.