Vol.II No.IX Pg.1
October 1965

The "Sectarian Spirit"

Robert F. Turner

I have read several lengthy articles recently, on the meaning of "sect" "heresy," etc. Each one gave the definitions of the words (a cinch -- ever since the invention of the dictionary) and then demonstrated the sectarian spirit by the application each made of the terms to all and sundry who differed with the writer.

Nor do I mean that pointing out error is necessarily the sectarian spirit. There is nothing "sectarian" about calling a false teacher a false teacher; it is what you use to determine that he is false that really tells the story.

If he is considered "false" simply because he differs from you and yours -- look out! Even if he left an old, well-established party -- and in the "eyes" of the dictionary is an heretic -- -perhaps there is still one big question to be answered. Who established your party -- by what authority do you use it as the norm?

Among God's people a constant seeking after truth is not heresy, but the very basis by which we became and continue to be God's people. Self-will must be replaced by submission to the will of God. But the sectarian spirit accepts what one has learned thus far as final and complete truth; and closes the mind to all further consideration of God's word relative to issues which may arise. The party, "Our church," becomes the standard instead of the Divine Word which fathered the true church in the beginning. Creedalism says, "I have reached the top -- -what I now hold to be true must never be questioned. Henceforth, all problems and questions must be solved by an appeal to my current level of understanding". This is that "measuring ourselves by ourselves" which Paul condemns (2CO.10:12).

In the Jewish eye, Christianity was a "sect" -- a "splinter group" holding to peculiar doctrines (ACT.24:5; 28:22). But God knew better!

Current practices -- even 50 yr. traditions -- do not make a "sect" of those who reject them. They may stir a "sectarian spirit" in those who hold them regardless of consequences.