In our village the pastor of the Baptist church and the pastor of the Adventist church are negotiating a possible union of the two churches. What does the Bible say about Baptists and Seventh Day Adventists forming one church? How do those who do not agree with this union need to react?
I find this situation very strange. Baptist and Seventh Day Adventists churches’ doctrines differ greatly and the fact that the pastors have come together to negotiate on a possible union of these churches causes us to realize that one of these pastors has abandoned his beliefs and taken on the other denomination’s teachings . If so, we must assume that he has already started teaching the new denomination’s doctrines in the church he leads with the purpose of attracting the members of his church to the other denomination that he wants to join. There was such a case in a village in southern Moldova where many years ago, a Baptist pastor embraced the teachings of the Adventist church. He then went on to draw others from the church where he served to follow him to the Adventist church. This caused a split in the Baptist church and the theological debates continue among the people, even to this day. I learned of this situation when I went to teach the epistle to Hebrew at the local Baptist church. Many of the Baptist Christians asked me questions about many different subjects such as eating pork, keeping the Sabbath, and other doctrines that are taught by the Adventists. Hearing this, we chose to lead a two day seminar to address these questions and study what Scriptures teach on each of them.
Returning to the case in your village, it is impossible for these church doctrines to be combined. One denomination’s doctrine will be prevalent over the other because the two cannot be practiced at the same time in the same church. The church will not worship corporately on Saturdays and Sundays because the Baptist practice corporate worship on Sundays while the Adventists worship on Saturdays. Why would you want to combine these two churches in one when they both worship corporately on different days?
When coming together for corporate worship, there will be continuous misunderstandings and quarrels which do not build up anyone as well as the fact that the church will have a bad name among the people of the village. The group in the church who does not agree with the prevalent doctrine will have to separate and form a new congregation in the end.
You asked me what the Bible says about this situation and I was reminded of the churches of Galatia. Paul came to this region and preached the Gospel while planting many churches made up of Gentile Christians. Then the Judaizers came to teach the new converts. They are those who teach that Christians can not be saved unless they keep the Law of the Old Testament in addition to faith in Jesus Christ. Some of the Galatian Christians were left seriously tempted by this heresy and the Apostle Paul wrote angrily:
6 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel ; 7 which is really not another ; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed ! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! (Galatians 1)
Later on in the epistle he writes:
1 You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified ? 2 This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith ? 3 Are you so foolish ? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? (Galatians 3)
Here is another rebuke Paul gives to those who decided to return to the Old Testament works of the law:
1 It was for freedom that Christ set us free ; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. 2 Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3 And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. 4 You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law ; you have fallen from grace. (Galatians 5)
I assume that you are part of one of those churches and I recommend that you go and talk to the pastor. Ask him why he insists on this unification and what is he seeking to achieve through it? Ask him what he thinks about the doctrines they teach the followers of the other denomination. It is also necessary to urge the minister to give the entire congregation answers to these questions. If the union you belong to does not know about this situation then it is important that the bishop of the union be informed and his advice be solicited.
God help us remain faithful to the true Gospel which was preached by Jesus and the apostles, because it is the only power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. By no means do not follow another gospel.
Translation by: Erik Brewer