I have been reading this book. It is a unique kind of book describing how a family emigrated to Australia in the mid-nineteenth century. One issue raised in the book is that of how one of the first, if not the first, Particular Baptist Churches in Melbourne split.
The split took place over the doctrine of prayer to the Holy Spirit. John Turner the pastor said that this should happen because “He was the inditer of prayer” (p.43)
The book then goes on to explain how he held back teaching the doctrine until a large section of the church were with him. When he had that, he used a lot of scripture to support his views. Many disagreed though. Accordingly, commotion followed and a large number of the older members left.
One phrase that is said of Mr Turner is “He was a man that always liked to be wiser than his brethren (p.43).
Surely prayer to the Holy Spirit is a matter where Christians can see things differently. Even in the same church there can be those who are comfortable with such an approach and those who are not. Godliness when practised leads you into Romans 14 territory and the church is held together as each respect each other.
However, when pride, selfish assertion of “my view” and a scriptural justification of that view come into play there is a toxic mix. Positions are normally clothed in scripture, but the attitude with which the positions are held has no commendation in scripture. When selfish ambition, “being in control” and “having my way” are in the vanguard then the catastrophe of Christians falling out and churches splitting can be the outcome.
One of the signs of Christian maturity is knowing how and when to disagree. Oh Lord give us wisdom and grace in these things. To have scripture on your side when you take a position on an issue is good. But we need to be oh so careful about how we hold our position on an issue in the church and towards others.