Agree to Disagree: What does it Really Mean?
by Dr. Ken Matto
This is one we have all heard at different times. If two Christians are debating a point of Scripture, and if one does not have the answer to a question, they will normally say something like, "Let’s agree to disagree." I have heard this many times myself when bringing points to other believers. I started to ponder this saying and have come to a conclusion, that when a conversation or disputation is left with "agreeing to disagree" truth suffers another blow. In this article I want to give some dangers of agreeing to disagree and the repercussions it produces.
I realize emphatically that if you put three Christians in a room you will get four opinions. Not everyone is going to agree with everyone on points of doctrine. For example you have opposite camps teaching on the subjects of:
Free Will vs. Election
Pre-tribulationalism vs. A-millenialism
Tongues vs. No Tongues
Women Preachers vs. No Women Preachers
Date Setting vs. No Date Setting
Age of Accountability vs. No Age of Accountability
There are many other doctrines which seem to divide Christianity and when many of them are discussed, the latest thing is to agree to disagree. Now why does this happen? Many times discussion and debate is curtailed because of the phony love gospel which has become well-entrenched in the churches. If someone brings a false teaching and that person is challenged, then the person bringing the challenge is normally criticized for having no love. Since when is it love to allow someone to relax in a false teaching or gospel? Literally, these people are saying it is love to allow someone to be in rebellion against God and that is no definition of love. As soon as a false teaching is challenged, then instantly 1 Corinthians 13 is thrown at the challenger accusing them of having no love. I have read 1 Corinthians 13 and nowhere do I find one passage which commands us to leave our brethren in false teachings. In fact in 1 Corinthians 13:6 the Bible states:
(1 Corinthians 13:6 KJV) Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
Did you see that? Love rejoices in truth not in falsity. Therefore, it is love to bring someone out of a false teaching and show them the biblical truth. Many Christians do not like the Bible because if they truly studied it, they could not hold to certain doctrines. Instead many go to a bookstore and buy some book from a theologian they like, and then interpret the Bible according to them.
Here is another biblical definition of love:
(2 John 1:6 KJV) And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.
Not only does love rejoice in the truth, it is also walking our Christian lives in accordance with the commands of God. This cannot happen if someone is walking in a false gospel or teaching which is diametrically opposed to a teaching in God’s Word. For example, the Bible emphatically states that the gathering of the Saints is on the last day, yet millions of Christians believe that there will be 1,007 years after the gathering of the Saints. Let us now look at some dangers of agreeing to disagree (ATD).
Truth Remains Buried
(Proverbs 25:2 KJV) It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.
When someone blurts out an ATD it means they will no longer desire to see if they are incorrect on a given subject. They will continue to believe what they want to believe. They will reject all the truth they have been given to remain in their present belief. Spiritual growth is hindered by a settlement philosophy.
No Challenge to Search The Scriptures
(Acts 17:11 KJV) These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
Once someone has become settled in their beliefs, they will no longer search the Scriptures. The word "search" in the above verse means "to investigate, inquire or examine." Let us say that a person believes in a literal 1,000 year reign of Christ and then comes into contact with a study that gives biblical evidence that the 1,000 year reign of Christ represents the entire New Testament period. Since they have their belief system established and refuse to search further, they will continue to believe an erroneous doctrine which will spawn other erroneous beliefs.
The Person Remains in a False Gospel
(2 Corinthians 3:14 KJV) But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same veil untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which veil is done away in Christ.
The person who refuses to research their false belief will remain in the false teaching, going deeper and deeper into it. Those who believe in tongues will also believe in the further signs and wonders gospel. They will not be able to stop at babbling but will require more and more signs to confirm their belief system. If they studied the Bible and researched their beliefs, it would save them much belief in fantasy doctrines, but if you confront them with Scriptures they don’t want to hear, you will get an ATD. Their minds will continue to be blinded with false teaching.
Basically when someone hits you with an ATD, they are literally saying, "I will believe what I want to believe, and you believe what you want to believe." When someone uses an ATD, they are being spiritually smug in thinking they have stopped an argument or debate. What really happened, is that person is truncating their own spiritual growth and development by choosing to remain where it is the most comfortable and palatable. The true gospel is an offense, even to Christians since it zings us too. If I was to define ATD in one statement, it would be, "The avoidance of truth." How many times have you heard, "don’t rock the boat?" The true gospel not only rocks the boat but it overturns ships. If you are a person given to ATD philosophy, you are really hurting yourself spiritually. How do you expect to grow if you set the standard of what you will believe rather than God? The answer is simple, you won’t! If you are a Christian who chooses to avoid truth under the guise of a phony love gospel, then you really need to follow the admonition of 2 Corinthians 13:5:
(2 Corinthians 13:5 KJV) Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
because the admonition to every true Christian is:
(2 Peter 3:18 KJV) But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.