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Are Religious Divisions Ever Justifiable?

Are Religious Divisions Ever Justifiable?According to Galatians 5:20,21, people who are guilty of causing division will not inherit the kingdom of God. But some people look at religious division and conclude that no one is right, so they refuse to be part of any group. But is a group necessarily wrong just because it is separated from other groups? Is it possible for one side of a division to be right?

Jesus once said: "Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay, but rather division: for from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three" - Luke 12:51,52. The life of Jesus fulfills this prophecy. The gospel of John repeatedly states that people were divided because of Jesus (John 7:43; 9:16; 10:19). The same was true of His apostles. When they preached the gospel, division and disagreement resulted in city after city (Acts 14:4; 19:9; 28:24,25). Did Jesus and His apostles sin in causing division? If we do as they did, will we be guilty of sin?

To answer these questions, we must ask why the people were divided. The answer is that, when Jesus and the apostles preached the truth, some listeners believed it and some did not. The result was division. The same is true in all ages. There will always be people who will not accept truth, and these people will be separated from those who do accept it (Matthew 7:13,14). In fact, God Himself commands His people: "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you ..." - 2 Corinthians 6:17,18.

So today, when some people preach and practice truth, but others preach and practice error, the result will be division. But the only people who are unacceptable to God are those who refuse to obey the truth. Those who obey it will be pleasing to Him.

For more information on this subject, please visit our Bible Instruction web site at /instruct/ and study our in-depth articles there about denominationalism, religious division and confusion, and how to identify Jesus' true church. 

(c) Copyright David E. Pratte, 4/2009

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