“I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people” (Romans 16:17-18).
“These people are grumblers and fault-finders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage” (Jude 16).
Two characteristics of people who cause division in local Churches or small groups:
“Narcissism is a personality pattern in which a person displays an excessive sense of self-importance and preoccupation with eliciting the admiration and attention of others … a narcissistic individual greedily fishes for and hungrily devours the praise and attention of others … Narcissistic individuals who are antagonists are extremely reluctant to admit wrongdoings. They cannot conceive of being in error, because ‘right’ is what meets their needs, and ‘wrong’ is what obstructs the meeting of those needs.”
2. Paranoid personality
“Marks of a paranoid personality include persistent, unwarranted guardedness and mistrust of others; delusions of grandeur; lack of genuine emotions, and hypersensitivity.”
“Because they distrust others, paranoid persons try to find hidden meanings in words and actions, continually looking for ulterior motives behind what others say … they commonly experience difficulty in relating to others; disagreements and arguments are commonplace. Paranoid individuals find coworkers and authority figures most difficult to get along with.”
“A paranoid person often projects his or her own feelings onto others. If, in a social gathering, a leader accidentally forgets to shake a paranoid antagonist’s hand, the paranoid might blow the incident all out of proportion in his or her own mind. The wrath carried inside the antagonist will be attributed by mental sleight of hand to the leader, as if the leader were angry with the antagonist.” (from: Kenneth Haughk, Antagonist in the Church)
Priority on peace and unity
- “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18).
- “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace …” (Romans 14:19).
- “Make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).
- “Make every effort to live in peace with all men …” (Hebrews 12:14).