Bible Question:

Should there be doctrinal differences at a church? For example, some do not believe in speaking in tongues. Others do not believe in the trinity and so forth. My husband and I are having a very difficult time with this. We feel the reason there are so many strange things going on is because this door of confusion has been opened. Can you please help us? Thank you.

Bible Answer:

It is not uncommon for doctrinal differences to exist among the pastors of a church and among the people who attend the church. It depends on the church. But that does not mean that the differences are necessarily okay.

Reason For Some Confusion

Some of the confusion is understandable because even the apostle Peter had trouble understanding some of the books written by the apostle Paul.

. . . just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. (NASB) 2 Peter 3:15-16

Consequently, if one apostle had difficulty understanding another, then it is not surprising that today we have trouble understanding some things written in scripture. Even in the early church doctrinal differences existed. But back then the apostles were present and they corrected the false teachings. Today we do not have apostles and differences of opinion will exist because scripture is sometimes hard to understand.

False Teachers

But when key doctrinal differences exist within a church’s leadership team, it is time to leave the church and look for another one. Some of the key doctrines include the accuracy of the Bible, the Trinity, God the Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, salvation by faith alone, once truly saved always saved, and the sinfulness of man. When doctrinal differences exist among the pastors, the differences are usually minor, unless the church is liberal in its theology. A church that is considered to be liberal is one that rejects the key doctrines of the Bible. Some do not believe there is a hell because they believe God is “too loving” to send anyone there. These are just a few things to look for. Differences of view on issues like these are too great. They are not just a differences of opinion, but demonic doctrines. It is not uncommon to find pastors who are not believers. Some years ago I visited a large church and heard a pastor preach a wonderful message, baptize some folks, and encourage the congregation to tell others about Jesus. But later in his office, he admitted that he did not believe Jesus was God. He believed the creation story was a myth, and that Jesus was not born of a virgin. We would call him a liberal. The Bible was not the authority; his opinion was the authority. He felt the freedom to change the meaning of a passage when it did not agree with his view. When significant differences in doctrinal views exist within a church and the leadership team approves, then it is time to leave.


In the New Testament those who had doctrinal differences with the apostles and taught their views were called false teachers. Today, many do not want to say that someone is a false teacher or to ignore such a person in an effort to be tolerant of the opinions of others.

. . . Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds. (NASB) 2 John 9-11

Tolerance of false teachers and false doctrine is Satan’s idea. God has said that anyone who teaches what He has not said is a false teacher. That is the correct perspective!