1 Corinthians – Why Does This get Misunderstood in Sunday School?

It’s been a long time since I last wrote a religious post. I’ve been too focused on business and tech entries lately, perhaps because I’m prioritizing wrong. I thought that perhaps to get my priorities straight I would try to see if I can write on the current Sunday School lesson in church. For those non-Mormons that read my blog, the topic in our Sunday School classes currently is the New Testament, so I think everyone should be able to participate in this series for this year. I’ve bought the domain, “nopooramongthem” – if I get enough of these posts regularly I may start moving these things over there.

My lesson in Sunday School today was on 1 Corinthians 1-6, entitled “Ye Are the Temple of God”. I’ve had this lesson many times before, and for some reason each time the focus moves to “cliques” in the Church and how we shouldn’t have “cliques” among the members of the church. We should all be unified and friends with everyone.

What?

I see no where in 1 Corinthians to the extent of where the people of Corinth were separated into smaller groups of friends, all under the same leadership and prophet, following the same principles of the Gospel. In fact, I’m not quite sure that’s wrong! In fact, what really should be taught if we’re going to move into “cliques” is how one shouldn’t get offended if certain people are friends with other people in the church and don’t always remember to invite you to activities. We should teach that it’s your own responsibility to make sure you’re included in the church, loving and including everyone, but not necessarily hanging out with everyone at the same time as it seems gets preached way too often.

Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get to the real context of what 1 Corinthians is all about. 1 Corinthians is an Epistle from the Apostle Paul (yes, I had my cell phone out, searching the web for the real context of what we were supposed to be talking about during Sunday School – keeps me entertained and educated 🙂 ) to the people of Corinth at a time where those people were starting to stray outside of the bounds of the Gospel. Paul was concerned of what was happening in Corinth, and because of this wrote the Epistle. It should also be noted that this was around 50 or so A.D., many of those people were pure converts, having never seen or known Christ (Paul was probably just a kid I imagine when that happened), so the Church was very new to them. It was only 100 or so years later that we begin to see the early creeds of the Christian church written.

The saints of Corinth as I mentioned were beginning to stray. Some were claiming to be “of Paul”. Some were claiming to be “of Apollos”. Some were claiming to be “of Cephus (Peter)”, and some “of Christ”. There was no unity, and Paul decided it necessary to set them straight, so he wrote the Epistle now known as 1 Corinthians. Does this sound like “cliques” to you? To me, it sounds like the verge of apostasy – and that is the topic of today’s lesson.

The point of today’s lesson is how can we be “unified in Christ” and not contend with one another? How can we follow the Spirit to ensure we’re all on the same track towards following Christ? How can we be one “unified (termed ‘Catholic’ in those days), Apostolic church”? Paul stated to do so, you must “speak the same thing”, have “no divisions among you”, and “Be perfectly joined together in the same mind and the same judgement.” (1 Corinthians 1:10)

I know I can find applications for this in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. In our church we are taught to follow the priesthood of the church. Just as in the times of Paul there is a Priesthood hierarchy, led by God, that leads and guides the church and keeps it from straying. If we stick to that, follow the spirit and personal revelation, and follow the scriptures, those divisions cannot occur. There are many examples among small groups of new converts in the Church that would be very familiar with this story. I’ve heard several around Europe too during World War II where doctrines have strayed because there was no larger church to guide them.

The other place this can apply to is from Christian religion to Christian religion. For Christians to be unified, we must seek the truth. I think most Christians have some sort of belief in “Personal Revelation”. By turning to God first, he will “make foolish” the things of the world (1 Cor. 1:18-21). We have to seek out ways to work with each other, compliment our similar beliefs, and most of all, learn from the good things in our faiths. Contention is of the devil!

Anyways, I’ve strayed from my original point. Today’s lesson was on “apostasy”, how to avoid contention in the church as a whole, and how truth can be sought out and followed. It was not about what groups of friends in the church you should hang out with. What are some ways you think your own religions and other religions can seek unity and full truth in the Gospel?

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