Vol.IX No.X Pg.4
December 1972

Relative Fellowship

Robert F. Turner

Much of the loose thinking of our day, as regards fellowship, is derived from the tidal wave of subjectivism which modern theologians have cast upon us. TRUTH is no longer equated with Gods word, objectively considered. Granting that each mans knowledge or understanding of truth is relative to his total experience—and that no mans knowledge is completely perfect— we have not made TRUTH relative. It is such only to those who reject GOD as an external authority, and the revealer of truth.

I may remind my brethren that we have an imperfect grasp of truth — by virtue of our very fallible nature. This is done to keep us humble, ever searching, never using our imperfect level of understanding as though it was the final word of truth. But this is far from denying that GOD has all truth, and has delivered to man (via the inspired word) such truth as is needed for salvation. (Jn. 17:17)

But we are told, if you recognize that mans understanding is less than perfect, and his fellowship with others is based upon his understanding of Gods word, perhaps we are making a mistake in our fellowship. So the conclusion is drawn: we must recognize all claimants for fellowship, or at least, relax our concept of faith in Jesus Christ so as to embrace the majority who claim such faith.

The majority is no less subject to relative understanding than the few; and there is no warrant for our substituting the opinions of few or many for our individual obligation to study and act upon Gods word. My acceptance or rejection of my fellowman as a brother in Christ will not affect his standing before God — but it may vitally affect my standing. If I fellowship that which I understand to be contrary to Gods will (1 Cor. 5:), or fail to fellowship that which God commends (3 Jn. 9-10) God will not hold me guiltless. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. (Rom. 14:)

Respecting those things essential to ones becoming a Christian, I find it difficult to believe they are all that hard to understand. My experience has been that once the hearers attitude is right, there is very little problem in telling him what God wants him to do. I may add, the 1st. century preachers seem to have had the same experience, as revealed in the New Testament. God intended His word to be understood (Jn. 20:31) and guided the writing accordingly (Eph. 3:3-f. 1 Cor. 2:13). But, regardless of the other fellows honesty or lack of honesty, I must strive to act in keeping with my understanding of the divine standard.

If someone feels I have drawn unwarranted conclusions concerning the truth, and that my standards of felowship are therefore in error, let him teach me the way of God more perfectly. (Acts 18:26) I want none of his inner light feelings or relative truth approach. Let us go to the law and to the testimony! If they speak not according to this word surely there is no morning for them." (Isa.8:19-20) My imperfect knowledge does not invalidate the divine word.