We believe Christians can discuss important issues without the acrimonious debate and parliamentary maneuvering that can divide a group into contending factions. We see too many examples of that in secular society. We believe the Holy Spirit leads in all things, especially as we make decisions. We want to avoid making decisions in a fashion that leaves some feeling like winners and others losers. --- from "Guidelines for Holy Conferencing - What God Expects of Us" as printed in W. PA Annual Conference (United Methodist Church) pre-conference reports and legislation information.
As one looks at the guidelines for "holy conferencing" it is quite obvious that someone needs to confront Jesus and at least a couple or so others in the New Testament about the fact of their defiance of these standards with the result of causing deep division and being guilty of making some feel like winners and others losers!
We won't even try to include the Old Testament prophets on this matter at the present time -- that would add quite a number to the list of those failing to do "holy conferencing" in addition to Jesus and others in the 1st Century.
A couple of those guidelines state, "Every person is a child of God. Always speak respectfully. One can disagree without being disagreeable.....Avoid using inflammatory words, derogatory names, or an excited and angry voice."
Now consider how Jesus handled Himself on certain occasions:
"I am One who bears witness of Myself, and the Father who sent Me bears witness of Me." Then they said to Him, "Where is Your Father?" Jesus answered, "You know neither Me nor My Father. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also."....... Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears God's words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God." --- John 8:18, 19, 42-47
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.......Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar." --- Matthew 23:15, 33-35
Paul didn't seem to be a practitioner of "holy conferencing" on various occasions:
Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, "O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord? And now, indeed, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time." And immediately a dark mist fell on him, and he went around seeking someone to lead him by the hand. --- Acts 13:9-11
And the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul. Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, "It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us: 'I have set you to be a light to the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.'" --- Acts 13:44-47
Ought we not take a look also at Stephen who is described as one who was filled with the Holy Spirit? But what is this? Speaking to a group of very religious people (the kind who should engage in "holy conferencing") he gives a history lesson and then concludes:
"You stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it." When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. --- Acts 7:51-54
Oh yes, we must not forget that very radical cousin of Jesus, John the Baptist! Is it not possible that those who are strong advocates of "holy conferencing" and doing "dialog" would have more than a tad of difficulty with this fellow today? Is he guilty of name calling or what?
In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!" For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the LORD, make His paths straight.'" And John himself was clothed in camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, "Brood of vipers! Who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come? "Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones." --- Matthew 3:1-9
Maybe I missed it -- do you see any place where John announces, "Brothers and sisters, it's time for us to enter into a "holy conferencing" experience since we have some serious issues which need to be addressed." It is noted, however, that this man was filled with the Holy Spirit from the time of his birth. Hmmmmm -- filled with the Holy Spirit, but yet did no "holy conferencing" as is stressed in church circles these days! The way he acted is it possible he wouldn't be permitted to enter a lot of churches today -- that is, unless he kept his mouth totally shut?
Just a few of many examples drawn from an infallible source of information which indicate that "holy conferencing" was not a priority when it came to confrontations over various issues. Jesus, of course, is the prime example. It appears that He was not too convinced that one just has to dialog and do the "holy conferencing" thing. But this one thing He did, and which He calls us to do -- be witnesses to God's eternal truth always -- no compromising on that! But that is where the problem is -- too many have bought into the idea that absolute moral truth does not really exist, and this provides the perfect climate for dialog and "holy conferencing!"
No where do you see any indication that God was willing to enter into dialog about anything -- He draws the line on all moral and spiritual issues. He defines what is acceptable and what is unacceptable on human sexuality, but in dialog and "holy conferencing" we want to erase the line God has drawn or else come up with an agreement that it is a "fuzzy" issue and we don't quite fully agree on it yet, but we'll continue to engage in "holy conferencing" until we do -- maybe it will happen at the next General Conference of the United Methodist Church in 2012!
On the most critical spiritual issue, God has said that we either are forgiven and restored to righteousness through His Son, Jesus Christ, or we are not -- plain and simple! But the conferencing and dialog sessions come to the conclusion that whatever "religion" you may practice is good enough -- Christianity is but one of many peas in the same pod -- just pick the one that seems to fit and work best for you!
So then, who will put the bell on the cat -- oooops! I mean, who will volunteer to confront Jesus and the others with the fact that they have violated the guidelines for "holy conferencing?" If we have more than one, maybe we can get up a committee to do it! In mainline denominations especially, is that not the only way anything can be done these days?
I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. --- 2 Timothy 4:1-4