If all Christians have the same Holy Spirit, why do we see so many different doctrines and practices and denominations?
This is a question that has been popping in and out of my head for over a year now.
If the Spirit illuminates the Scriptures for us, then why do so many of us interpret them differently?
Yes, the Bible warns of false teachers. But if we allow that there may be whole denominations calling themselves Christian but in fact preaching a false gospel, what do we then say for disagreement on the “smaller” issues? The issues of disagreement between people who both clearly believe the gospel, but disagree on one issue.
For example, infant baptism vs believer’s baptism. Why, if we have the one Spirit, do we have Christians who believe one is right and Christians who believe the other is right?
Perhaps the answer is that some people are listening to the Spirit as they read the Bible and others are not.
But surely no Christian can claim to have perfect scriptural interpretation in every area, since we still have imperfect minds.
I recently watched the Call to Discernment series of lectures by Justin Peters, and, while he specifically calls out the Word of Faith/Prosperity Gospel preachers, I found the series particularly helpful in thinking through this question in the broader sense. Specifically, his calling attention to this passage:
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
So, Jesus is saying that not everyone who claims to be a Christian, and even does miracles in his name, is a Christian.
Again, I find this a satisfactory explanation for the big differences in doctrine, where a false gospel all together is being preached. But it doesn’t resolve the issue on the smaller doctrinal differences for me.
This is a question I will be coming back to…