5th February 2024

'Randy Buchman shares'



"The Main Thing is the Main     Thing"

My favourite professor in Bible College was not generally the favourite Bible/theology teacher with most of the other students.

He was decent on covering the meat and potatoes of whatever book of the Bible/doctrinal class he was teaching through, and everyone appreciated the basic clarity.
But he had a habit of getting really wound up about certain subjects that would take him down one rabbit hole after another of passionate proclamation, replete with screaming and yelling and pounding the lectern.

I really loved this guy so much, and a large part of my desire to ultimately attend Dallas Theological Seminary was because that is where he had gone to grad school.

There was another professor who was much-loved because of the organisation of his materials.
He would pass out notes that were very clear, and then he would teach through them in a methodical and likeable way.

Yet another theology professor was very deep, and, very old.
He certainly knew the Scriptures and had apparently been at the college even before the Apostle Paul was saved on the road to Damascus (or so it seemed).
He would randomly call upon some student to pray, which was a terrifying experience - that is because he would critique your prayer when you were done.
He might say something like, "Don't pray like that ever again and stop telling God over and over who he is; HE KNOWS WHO HE IS!"

So, who was correct of those students?
Who was the best professor to follow?
Well, the answer would be, of course, that each of these professors brought different perspectives and variant strengths to the classroom.

But that is not how the Corinthian church appreciated their varied leaders.
Instead of seeing diverse strengths and shades of grey, they only saw their leaders in complete black and white, right and wrong, strong and weak.
And they also wrote off people who would not follow and join their assessments and viewpoints.

In 1 Corinthians 1 and 3, Paul addresses the first of a host of problems in the church - confronting the various divisions that arose in the church community.
Imagine that! Divisions in a church!

Paul writes

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.

1 Cor. 1:10

And when he writes of his desire that they be "perfectly united," this has the literal Greek meaning of restoring something to its proper condition.
It was the word used in Matthew 4:21 when Jesus came upon James and John "mending" their nets.
So, picture a tangle of ropes needing to be sorted out.
And that is what the Corinthians needed to do about this division in their midst.

The story that had filtered to Paul was that they were essentially divided into four camps around four teachers/viewpoints - Paul, Apollos, Cephas/Peter, Christ.

Paul goes on to say

1:13 - Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul?

Paul asks a series of three rather ridiculous questions... to which the answer for each was
"of course not!"
Christ is not divided; Paul didn't die on the cross for the Corinthians; baptism is not in the name of Paul (or any other mere preacher).

Paul finished this section by affirming that the calling to preach the gospel is not a call to the best eloquence and (alleged) wisdom.
This does not diminish the value for excellence in style and communication, but the real issue is the substance.

It is inevitable that we may all like one preacher or style of presentation over another. That's rather human.
The primary teaching here is the reminder that the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.

The main thing = the gospel message.

This is an edited version.
The full article and Bible references are avaiable on request

Randy Buchman
I live in Western Maryland, and among my too many pursuits and hobbies, I regularly feed multiple hungry blogs.
I played college baseball, coached championship cross country teams at Williamsport (MD) High School, and have been a sportswriter for various publications and online venues.
My main profession is as the lead pastor of a church in Hagerstown called Tri-State Fellowship.
And I'm active in Civil War history and work/serve at Antietam National Battlefield with the Antietam Battlefield Guides organization.
Occasionally I sleep.


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