Gods dream or Tenneys dream?
To dream the impossible dream
The intro of Tenneys book Gods Dream Team he begins with this statement This book is dedicated to the original Dreamer-God-and to that part of His dream that He has planted within His children. Keep His dream alive!
I want to start this article by posing a question. Does God dream? This concept is the basis for his theme of unity that he presents in this book. Tenney proposes that by having unity the problems in the Church and even the world will be solved.
Tenney, in an interview with Charisma News, states that, I honour the pursuit of God in whatever tradition a person follows. If they call Christ Lord, I call them brother ( Charisma News service, May 3, 2001).
This presents a problem that should be obvious to both new and mature believers. Mormons claim Jesus as Lord, as do many others in cults. Do we accept a confession of Jesus as Lord on its face value or should there be more? Even Jesus did not have this kind of openness as He stated, unless you believe I AM you will die in your sins (also Mt.7:21, 25:6; Lk.6:46).
Tenneys Oneness background seems to surface time and time again in this book. What is surprising is seeing a Oneness minister (former?) speak about unity and how big the body of Christ really is. Oneness has never been friendly with Trinitarians. This position does not put him in good standing with his own associates, nor with those Trinitarians who have not seen him forsake His Oneness position. As Tenney admits, he gets criticism from both sides. If he is still an ordained UPC minister, than he must deny the tri-unity. The book does not clearly endorse either position, but it does have Oneness theology.
On the cover of the book he has three different hands clasped arm over arm together in a Trinitarian style logo. While it is meant to send a message of unity, it has a subtle inference to the Trinity. Inside the book he has his father, who still is Oneness, quoted as an endorsement. Tommy Tenneys father is the District Superintendent of the Louisiana District United Pentecostal Church [UPC], since 1978.
Tenney writes, Christians share a common body of beliefs, such as salvation by faith in Christ, the divine inspiration and authority of the Scriptures, the deity of Jesus Christ and the triune oneness of God; but we are divided on how we work together (p.18). This statement is not qualified so it cannot mean what it sounds like, by the simple fact he says the Word is a dream and not the Son in the beginning.
His view on the nature of God comes through loud and clear as he writes, Theologians struggle vainly to draw a line between Sonship and Fatherhood. We are unable to describe the oneness of Father and Son or the unity of the Trinity because these things are beyond our comprehension. Jesus Christ so wrapped Himself up in the providence and Person of His Father that He bluntly said, You can't separate us. I and My Father are one (p. 31). Tenney is wrong in that we cannot describe Father and Son. He is right that we cannot fully comprehend the unity of the trinity. Jesus Christ so wrapped Himself up in the providence and Person of His Father is not what Scripture means. He didnt wrap Himself to be one, He already was one from eternity (Phil. 2:5-8). This again is a misunderstanding of the unity of the Father and the Son from the Oneness perspective. The language of the New Testament teaches that He continued His fellowship with the Father as a man on earth, just as He had before He came to earth. Oneness rejects the preexistence of the Son so when they are mentioning the Son it means His humanness was united with the Father.
It appears that there are many Oneness teachers making inroads into Trinitarian churches today and we need to be aware of this, lest we allow them to influence us into a salvation by baptism and a non-Trinitarian view of God.
Tenney writes, There have always been dreamers. Men and women who catch a glimpse of something beyond themselveswho dare to reach for goals and visions Yet no earthly dreamer can match the greatest of them all, the Dreamer who died on the cross to make His dream a reality. John 1:1 says, In the beginning was the Word. The literal meaning of logos, the original Greek term translated as Word, is idea, thought or blueprint. It is an ancient Greek theatrical term describing the work of a playwright as he conceives, or dreams up, the plot of a play. So we could say, In the beginning was the dream (p. 22).
Is the Son of God a dream? If this dream is the Word and the Word is God, then God is the dreamer and the dream. What does this mean? If the Word is God, and God himself a dream, we have no personal God. However one explains this, God is taken away from His personhood and it gives Him qualities He does not possess. If one looks over the passages Tenney is using it tells us the word is a He, not an inanimate thought in God's mind.
The book has some good things to say and is well written. There are some statements that are communicated well and would be agreed upon by any Christian; but some cannot be agreed upon. It is these other statements that are concerning and override anything that is well said. The book is filled with many clichés, illustrations, and sermonettes that we have heard for years, but some we have not. Tenney has strung them together to make a huge point. The point is we as the Church have failed before and will continue to do so until we get united. This is the theme and purpose of the book. God has a Dream Team. He shared that dream when He said in John 17, I pray that they may be one. Five times He gave voice to His dream, perhaps hoping that emphasis might make it come true (forward)
Tenney describes it as God dreamed of, or conceived, the blueprint of a united Church. I'm not sure how He could get a faraway look in His eye while seated in the timelessness of eternity, but somehow He who knows the end from the beginning dreamed of the end before the beginning and saw the finished work He called the Church (p. 22).
To dream means one must be in a state of sleep. Websters dictionary explains a dream as a series of thoughts or images which occur during sleep or the REM state of sleep. Is this an accurate explanation of how God saw the end before the beginning? Tenneys postulating how God did this, but it is not revealed to us in Scripture. Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure (Isa.46:9-10).
Deuteronomy 29:29: The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. While God has revealed certain amount of information, He does not reveal how He does His thinking. One thing we can be sure of: He does not dream. To dream means one must sleep, and the Bible says God neither slumbers nor sleeps. Dreaming is a function of creatures made by God. There is not one Scripture that refers to God dreaming anything up. It is for this reason the apostle Paul tells us not to go beyond what is written for our spiritual instruction, as it always leads us into falsehood. Who can fathom THE WORKING of God, as the creator himself states, For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts (Isa.55:8-9). It is By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible (Heb. 11:3).
Tenneys circle of friends and supporters are predictable, but some are not. Those who support his writing are Cindy Jacobs, recognized as a prophetess to the nations,who travels the world pulling down satanic strongholds. She is under Peter Wagner and his school of apostles and prophets. Wagner promotes the apostle-prophet movement as a necessity for the Church in the last days. Ed Silvoso, who is also connected to Peter Wagner, is involved in the Toronto-type revival and spiritual warfare concepts of the Transformation video. Michael Brown from the Brownsville school of revival, John Kilpatrick, pastor of Brownsville Assembly. Wes Campbell, who was one of the primary names in the Toronto revival. Tenney has spoken at the pastors conference 2000 at Toronto Airport Vineyard, and he has ministered at Brownsville. Gerald Coates endorses Tenney; he too is involved in the revivalism. Coates is known for the March for Jesus, as he believes the March is activating spiritual warfare in the heavenlies. Che Ahn believes the book is a poignant blueprint to become what Jesus prayed for. Rev. Bart Pierce, pastor of Rock Church in Baltimore, has manifestations of gold dust which are supposed to be filling peoples teeth with gold in their revival services. Tenney has spoken there several times. Stephan Munsey of Family Christian Center in Indiana, who has done the most outrageous skits and tactics ever seen to solicit funds from the naïve on LeSea broadcasting network. Joy Dawson, the wife of John Dawson of YWAM. There are some unexpected people also endorsing this book; Dr. Anthony Evans of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship; Rev. Richard Kew Director, the Anglican Forum for the future in Tennessee. Billy Joe Dougherty of Victory Christian Center in Tulsa Oklahoma. Bill Bright of Campus Crusade, who says, Tenney has wonderful insight and inspired ideas. Almost all of these men agree in some way that we need to be in unity and agreement so that our power will increase.
Along with those endorsing this book are: Tommy Barnett (of the Dream Center in LA) who wrote in one of the forwards, God has been calling for His championship team for 2,000 years. Now is the time to sign on the dotted line and join. Now is the time to answer the unanswered prayer of Jesus that we may be one in Him. Now is the time to take this playbook for the future-God's Dream Team-and hit the court of this world with a desire to win for His Kingdom.
Were not one in Jesus??? Jesus prayer has gone unanswered? These statements may be a shock to some, but those endorsing this book support this faulty premise of Tenneys. These and many others are looking for some type of agreement that will bring the Church into a powerful time of revival, and without it we will fail.
It is this premise that needs to be generally answered before we go any further. I believe the Bible makes it clear we already have unity when we received the Spirit of Christ. He is the glue (so to speak) that binds us together in Christ. Jesus prayer was answered! Too many times people look at the outward and since they cannot see unity for proof, it is assumed there is no spiritual unity. Ephesians 4:3-6 states endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. We are to keep what was already given to us by the Spirit, not begin it. When the Church was formed the unity began. It began for individuals and for us collectively. We are not only united with the body of believers everywhere today, but we are united with those who came before us and those who will come after us as well; we are one body. The real question, the Biblical question that needs to be answered is HOW do we KEEP it. I believe the Bibles answer is by keeping the doctrine of Christ that was inspired by the Spirit.
The attitude that many hold today is that doctrine gets in the way of unity and even the message. I always thought that Gods love is shown to the world through the gospel message. To say we should dispense with doctrine is tantamount to saying lets get rid of truth. It is these old doctrines that keep us in the Gospel. Things certainly are changing in Christianity.
As was reading I wondered, where is Tenney taking all this? Tenney says there is a prayer Jesus asked that has not been answered; it is the prayer of unity in John 17. It is time the one unanswered prayer of Jesus Christ-when He prayed that we become one-be answered by the Church-God's Dream Team. I want to see his dream come true.
For Tenney to insist on this position means we are not Jesus sheep, for Jesus said in John 10:27, My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. One must be united with Christ to hear Him and follow. If we are united in Christ then we are united with all others who are in Christ. Paul explains our unity But now indeed there are many members, yet one body ...Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.(1 Corinthians 12:20, 27). Romans 12:5: so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Here is Jesus prayer being answered. John 17 is answered when one is born again. 1 Corinthians12:13 tells us He is in us and we are in Him, because we have been baptized by one spirit into the body. In other words, when one believes on the gospel, the Holy Spirit lives in the believer and puts the believer in Christ; therefore we have Jesus prayer answered.
Despite good intentions with a rallying call of unity, we find Tenneys premise and requirement for unity flawed and no different than others who have come before him. Tenney writes, He wants to be one with you-and He wants us to be one with each other(p.18). I want to see His dream come true-His prayer answered. Help me, help us, help Him. Unity is God's prayer request, and it is the only prayer request the Church has the ability to answer (ibid.) This may shock you, but Jesus' pleas for unity seem to be the only unanswered prayers He ever prayed! His prayer for unity for oneness-remains unanswered to this day. The responsibility for this unanswered prayer is not His, it is ours. This is the only prayer that the Church can answer! (p.30).
Our responsibility! Is this what the Scripture says? Are we still waiting after 2,000 years for a prayer of Jesus to be answered? If the Church is to answer Jesus prayer then maybe Jesus should have directed the prayer to us and not the Father. The fact is that this is the only detailed prayer of Jesus we have recorded in Scripture. Jesus is specifically asking the Father for this unity, He is not depending on man to accomplish it (Jn.17:20-24). We are told by Jesus to ask of God in our prayers. Nowhere does it ever say to answer Jesus prayer. Why does Tenney find only one prayer that we must answer and not others? I dont find any reason for Tenneys application; even his own explanations fail to make this point clear.
When it comes to uniting a church that is so diversified (some estimates are of over a billion people that confess to be the Church), we first need to ask some questions. Do we make our OWN unity? What do we base this unity on? How do we know when we have arrived at this unity? How can we tell if it is Gods unity, and who will be the judge of this?
How do we answer a prayer for this unity when it is only God who could bring the whole Church through all time into this SPIRITUAL unity? Tenney states, In John 17, Jesus prayed that we would be one just before He began the final journey to His hideous death. This prayer was and is His last will and testament. This is God's dream, but it is held captive by humanity. Our disbelief and our stubborn insistence on our rights and personal agendas are shackles binding God's dream to our limitations(p.24). Either God's dream shatters or our will breaks. His dream cannot exist in the presence of an unbroken, unsubmitted human will (p. 30).
This is nonsense; can we overcome Gods plans by our will? Can we limit God to such an extent that His will cannot be accomplished on earth without us? What kind of God is this that has His will dominated by man? We are His Church who He is the head of? Why did Jesus tell us to pray thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven if it is really up to us? What is being presented is spiritual humanism, not Christian spirituality that is supposed to have faith in our God for all things.
Tenney basically ends up thrashing the Church as if it has failed since the apostles time and God is still waiting for us to get our act together for His will to get done. Gods kingdom suffers defeat after defeat at the hands of the enemy because God has not been able to put the right team on the court (p. 27). We have been so bad at this that not even 6 people have been in unity (p. 122). How does Tenney know this? He has not been around for 2,000 years.
Tenney scolds us for not having done enough; granted, he may be partially right. However, there is a good portion of the Church that has done what they are supposed to. When Jesus had John to write seven letters to the Churches He exhorted, He rebuked, but He also commended. Not once does He say we have failed because we have not achieved unity. There is no where in Scripture that teaches this, yet Tenney has mad it the complete solution. The Bible says, It is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure (Phil. 2:13). That we are predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will (Eph. 1:11). We have been predestined for good works (Eph. 2:10). When Tenney makes the statement we must bring this unity, he is really saying God has not been able to accomplish this.
Remember, there is a difference between calling Him Lord and making Him Lord. It is because of this difference that God is still waiting for His Dream Team to appear(p.33). I understand that one needs to have Him be Lord over their life, but if we are only calling him Lord without him being Lord, then we are not saved. Again, there is not one Scripture for Tenney's premise of God waiting for a dream team to accomplish His will; one would have to do Olympic gymnastics to find it.
Tenney asks, Everyone probably knows at least one church that has suffered division to the point of a church split-one group splintering off and going its own way, yet each claiming to have had a word from the Lord that what they are doing is His will. In truth, somewhere along the way unity has been dispelled and it is once again a question of control. Have you ever noticed that you hear of church splits-you hear of division and strife in the Church-but you never hear about a group of atheists splitting? (p.45).
Tenney ignores addressing the very problem we see today from those who say I have heard this from the Lord, follow my word. This the lord told me is coming from the Christians he is running after the presence with. Tenney compares the Church divisions to the unity of atheism. Is Tenney kidding! What of countries run by atheists, dont they have division? Certainly atheists are not concerned about the Devil, who comes in to divide the Church from our mission of evangelism and being the pillar and ground of the truth.
Someone said, If the world knew we would love unconditionally and stand by one another no matter what, we would have to build thousands of new churches to accommodate all the new people. Unfortunately, we do the opposite and drive multitudes away from the Savior. Jesus knew what He was talking about. The Church can never grow or bring light to the world without unity. India's great Hindu leader, Ghandi, once said, I would have become a Christian, were it not for observing Christians. All too often, we Christians live less than we preach (p. 50).
Where did Jesus say that showing unity will bring in the people? People need to believe the gospel, our message is not just that we love one another but that God loves them, He died for them. Of course we are to show them how God is real by our love for each other, but Tenneys statement is broad brushing everyone everywhere. To us Ghandi as an example borders on the absurd. Ghandi had no problem being Hindu, a religion that purposely allows children to starve while a cow is being fed generously, allowing those who are hurting to be untouchable because of the law of karma. All this did not stop him from being a Hindu. How ridiculous is it to listen to this Ghandis excuse for not being a Christian when the very point Tenney is trying to make about Christians is found in the practice of Hinduism.
Countless others have dreamed dreams and seen visions that changed their world. The businessman dreams of success in the marketplace. The artist dreams of the masterpiece he was born to create. The housewife dreams of a palatial home. The teenager dreams of adulthood. Children dream of playgrounds and endless recess. Athletes dream of championships won. What about the Great Dreamer-did you know that God dreams about you? (p. 25).
I read in the Bible that He thinks of us, not dreams about us. This is not just a difference of semantics, but a qualitative one that affects Tenneys theology throughout. For he even reinterpreted the word in John 1 to be a dream. I cant help but think about Kenneth Copelands prophecy to Benny Hinn a few years ago when he said The word of the Lord came to me saying, 'say this to Benny Hinn you have walked in almost the total fulfillment of your dreams, your dreams were not much larger than what you are doing now, they just covered more territory. You dreamed of these meetings you dreamed of this anointing you dreamed of all these things coming to pass and have come to pass saith the Lord, but now were about to step off into my dream for you (This is Your Day, Aug. 9, 1999).
These are the dreamers whom Jude writes about. To dream up their own will for God. But notice that Copeland says the same thing Tenney does in Gods dream for Hinn.
The dreams mentioned in the Bible are from God to men. They have a purpose to communicate and reveal something about Him and future events that will affect us. Genesis 31:11 says, Then the Angel of God spoke to me in a dream, saying, 'Jacob, and he was directed to leave Laban. Matthew 1:20: an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. Job 33:14-16: For God may speak in one way, or in another, yet man does not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, while slumbering on their beds, Then He opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction.
Hebrews 1:1-2: God, who at various times and in various ways (dreams and visions) spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds. The Sons words are what He speaks through today, recorded by His appointed apostles. As we have already seen from Tenneys book God Chasers he wants the Church to chase Gods presence and not be satisfied with His word. Now he presents to us a dream who is God-- dreaming for us to accomplish His will. So what we have is a dream, dreaming for us to fulfill His dream.
Jesus, the Son of God, shared His dream with us in John 17. These were His final words. This is His forever message spoken only hours before the crucifixion (p.28).
These were His words before He died, but they certainly were not His last, as He rose and continued to teach the disciples within the period of 40 days. Giving them commandments, (Acts 1) none of which had repeated these words that were in His prayer.
Tenney quotes Acts 2 saying it was the original recipe they were in one accord in one place (p.126).
Acts 2:1 Now when the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. Because they were in unity in one place that the power came, Unity is the basket. The size of our basket will determine the volume of visitation (p. 127).
But it wasnt their being together that made unity; if we keep on reading we find what kept them in this unity. Acts 2:42: And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Doctrine was first then fellowship and prayer. The very thing that Tenney seems to ignore is priority, doctrine. The unity of the faith is in the teaching, understanding, and practice of the apostles doctrine. We dont skip the foremost and go straight to fellowship to have power. There is also a flaw in our having to be congregated in one place for Gods power to be present. This is reducing Gods power to a method we must apply. Was not the power of God present with the apostles and the Church when they were separate as well as when they gathered together?
What about his God Chasers book A true God chaser is not happy with just past truth he must have present truth. God chasers dont want to just study from the moldy pages of what God has done; theyre anxious to see what God is doing. What kind of unity is this promoting when one does not have the Word as the basis? This is the same word the apostles delivered.
Tenney comments on Jesus prayer That they all may be one; as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me (Jn.17:21). Tenney asks, Could it be that the world does not believe God sent Jesus precisely because we, the Church, have squandered away our validity and credibility through our unending shuffle of disunity? (p. 29). ...if we are not one, then we will not be made perfect. Our refusal to walk in unity literally gives the world good cause to believe Jesus' virgin birth, His death and His resurrection are a hoax (p. 30).
The Bible says the early Church had unity, but their own brethren didnt believe Jesus was sent from God. We cant blame the world's unbelief on disunity or any one thing we do. Contrary to Tenneys explanation of why the world does not believe, the Bible's explanation comes directly from Jesus and it is far different than Tenneys. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God (John 3:19-21).
The people are blinded and for this reason the apostle Paul states whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them (2 Cor.4:4)
Its not unity that sets people free, but the gospel message that is centered on the One who is our salvation. It's not the Church being in unity that has the power, but the gospel that contains the power to set people free.
Certainly the Church may fall short in many areas, but lets not blame our disunity for keeping the world in unbelief. To blame peoples unbelief on the Church would be like Jesus blaming the disciples for people abandoning Him when His teachings became hard. Scripture is clear: That they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness (2 Thess. 2:12).
Tenney does mention, There is no reason for the world to believe we are from God if we act like the devil. We need to tell them the truth in love, but first we may need to clean up our own house of the charlatans. It is these visible representatives the world sees that has them question Christianity, they are stumbled because of how some act. So if Tenney and others are true to their concept of unity maybe they need to do something with the obvious first, help get the scammers and thieves out of the Church.
You can fellowship with someone on the basis of the 90 percent on which you commonly agree, or you can fight over the 10 percent about which you disagree. I know none of us is absolutely, totally right about everything (p. 53). I think we can all reasonably agree with this; however, if that 10 percent is bad enough or heresy, then we cannot fellowship with that person no matter how nice of a guy they are. We need convictions from the Word and not ignore them. Yes, we should overlook the minimal things, but not the core teachings or things that affect our Christian worldview. Could it be that Tenney who is Oneness, is asking us to ignore this factor to accept him and his sect of Christianity?
God uses biblical unity to draw and attract people to Himself, the enemy uses disunity and division to drive people away from God and the Church. Disunity has caused more Christians to abandon their commitments to Christ than any other factor relating to the Church (p. 37).
This is a very rare complaint, to hear someone left a Church because they were not united. Scripture states that we will have divisions until Christ comes, and they have a purpose. 1 Corinthians 11:18-19: For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you. Division is not bad if it is for the right thing, if it is based on the Bible. Jesus said he came first to bring a sword to divide, not to unite. Unity is good if it is Biblical unity, but if it is man made unity, what looks like an accomplishment can actually be our undermining. The unity that the Bible teaches is on the doctrine of Christ and by the Spirit. If people abandon their commitments because they see disunity -- then they themselves had none. But this is not what Tenney means when he speaks of his unity, it is more like, cant we all just get along despite our differences. There were just as many people who abandoned Jesus, as there were to follow Him. Is that unity or disunity? Why did they leave, because the others were gathered around the truth and they could not?
If there is disunity in a church, any preaching about unity is generally powerless to fix it. You must trace the disunity to its source, identify the small group where the division originates and deal with it at that level. Once you fix the foundation, it will hold. You cannot repair disunity at the surface level where you see it. You must go underneath and fix it at the foundation (p. 89). What is disunity to Tenney? One of the main causes of disunity in the Church is the human separation of responsibility from authority. When the responsibility of leadership and the authority of leadership rest within the fivefold ordained ministry of God, we come closer to God's ideal, and we foster the creation of unity in His Body(p. 66).
I believe we have here a promo for the apostle-prophet movement that Tenney is part of. He likens those who create disunity to Saul (Paul) before he was saved, when Jesus asked, Why are you persecuting Me? The unspoken message was nonetheless clear: If you persecute the Church, you persecute Christ as well. Those who create disunity today are literally persecutors of the Body of Christ. Their attacks on the brethren are sacrificing the Body of Christ on the altar of their selfish wills! They are crucifying the Body of our Lord afresh! Saul was not creating disunity, he opposed everything Christ stood for; this is not the same thing. After Paul is saved he addresses those who cause division in the Church, and makes it clear, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them (Rom. 16:17). Throughout Pauls epistles the division is made by those who are in the Church who distort or depart from the apostles' doctrine and those who come into the Church and bring other teachings.Tenney interprets Romans16 as those trying to do their own thing. Some will want to disrupt the communication among us with misunderstanding and misinterpretation. These are the sowers of discord, the bearers of disunity. They're singing another song and it's out of tune. But their discordant note is readily apparent to him who has ears to hear. God also said to mark those who sow discord (Rom.16:17) (p. 121). Tenney does not mention teaching other doctrines as the reason for being the sowers of discord as the Scripture states. Instead those who cause division are by misunderstandings and misinterpretations, singing out of tune with the rest.
Tenney goes on to say some battles are not worth the fight. A bulldog can defeat a skunk every day, but most days the victory is not enjoyed. Next time you face a potential battle with a brother or sister in the faith, ask yourself, is the victory worth the stink? So prove your point-when you are done, will the "stink" you created be worth the point you proved? Is the disunity and discord that you sowed in the Body worth it? (p .40).
True, we need to choose our battles wisely, but it is not as much about proving a point as it is standing on your convictions for truth, and turning a soul from error or sin. Did Paul allow Alexander to continue teaching? Did Peter let Simon Magus stay in the Church for unity sake? There are battles that are worth fighting for-- Paul thought there were battles that were certainly worth the fight, especially if they were over false teachings. He wrote, Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine (2 Tim. 4:2). Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers (Titus 1:9).
To his credit, Tenney does mention, So it is in the Church. The enemy offers, in clever disguise, false unity. It's man-made bricks. It is a unity built on uniformity, born of control and oblivious to truth. Ecumenicalism has offered diluted doctrine and created false unity. The ecumenical movement is a coming together based on finding and maintaining our lowest common denominator-not our highest calling and purpose. It is not a quest for truth or doctrinal unity; it simply says, "Believe whatever you want to about everything. We agree with you! There is no disagreement because there is nothing to agree on. Maturity is being able to say, I disagree with you; I hold a different opinion. However, I bless your distinctness. I refuse to curse our differences (p. 55).
The beginning of this statement seems to contradict what he has written in the majority of the book. Its almost as if it is from another writer. We already have a standard to agree on. Tenney was right until he made the statement, Maturity is being able to say, I disagree with you; I hold a different opinion. However, I bless your distinctness. I refuse to curse our differences. We are to strive to live in peace with all, but does this mean we sacrifice contending for the faith delivered to the saints once and for all? Jude was writing to Christians and addressing what was taking place inside the Church. Our maturity is shown through discussing our disagreements, not by letting them go for the sake of non-confrontation. Can we ignore vast differences and find common ground with those who only call themselves Christian, when in fact they do not have the Christian distinctive? Tenney raises one aspect of Scripture while ignoring others. There is a balance in acceptance; unity is not to be more important than the truth. We are unified in the truth not because of unity. Truth is first. True unity is based on the truth, the doctrines that are written as Scripture. By softening this he annuls the bodys ability to sharpen one another.
This common deck, or common ground, represents the essentials of our faith, such as the uniqueness of Christ, the infallibility of Scripture, the substitutionary atonement. It is from this deck we face the world. If we can agree upon the majestic uniqueness of Christ, don't we share enough to accept one another? (pp.61, 62). Tenney is vague on this. Christ being acknowledged as unique is not enough; Christ needs to be acknowledged as God. Although he may believe this, it must be THE first essential point of unity. Every cult says Christ is unique; its not what one says, but what do they mean by what they say.
The Bible bases our fellowship on this: But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin(1 John 1:7). The light is His Word and fellowship, true fellowship is focused on the Word (the light) and Christ.