The lack of any obvious theological disagreement in most churches is not a sign that no differences of opinion exist, even on what many would consider major issues. Churches do not by their very nature encourage frank and open discussion of such issues. Churches and their paid clergy exist for the primary purpose of espousing and maintaining traditional teachings, rituals, and organizations. Church members who find that they disagree with the denominational dogma or the teaching of the local clergy will typically either pretend to agree explicitly or more likely just remain silent and appear to agree implicitly. Those who are so bold as to openly express a non-traditional thought or belief often find themselves shunned or asked to leave.
In this way, many churches profess a unity of belief when, in fact, no such unity is even remotely realized. In all too many cases, people feel at home in fellowship groups where they enjoy the personalities or activities involved but do not begin to internalize the doctrinal teachings. The saddest thing about such church affiliation is that it allows doctrines which are rejected by the majority to still be inculcated by the minority with the added force of am apparent majority. Many such dissenting church members pride themselves on not “rocking the boat”, asserting to themselves that their doctrinal differences are not really important. Enjoying fellowship despite differences is the important thing. In one sense that is true. Doctrinal differences don’t affect our acceptance by God. However, the deafening silence of the many, who dispute what is being taught on these subjects, does serve to perpetuate the very doctrines that are being personally and individually rejected.
A primary example of perpetuation by silence involves the doctrine of Christian exclusiveness and of God’s eternal punishment. I am confident that a large number of church members, if not an outright majority, have rejected these two concepts as unjust and inconsistent with the nature of God. However, I see scant outright evidence that the fallacy of these teachings is being actively and openly rebutted in the pulpits or in church discussion groups. People who see the injustice and biblical inconsistency of these doctrines should feel compelled to repudiate them openly because to do otherwise allows these horrendous misrepresentations to alienate and divide us as a society. It time to put misguided doctrinal positions behind us, so we can build the kind of world that Jesus envisioned and which has alluded us as we continue to espouse by silent assent false and patently manipulative theology.