When I was growing up, my family was part of an independent conservative Baptist congregation. Even though there were other congregations in my hometown – other Baptists, Methodist, Lutheran, Catholic, etc. – we did not associate with any of them; we stood separate from all others. The thinking/attitude was that our congregation alone held the truth and all others, while maybe not hypocrites, were teaching error. And because of the need to remain theologically pure, we needed to remain separate from them, or else we might fall into doctrinal error.
The principle behind that type of attitude is that our interpretation of Scripture must be the right one. To say differently or say that someone else’s interpretation has merit is akin to saying that we are wrong and in error. Above all else, we must stay theologically and doctrinally pure.
This is exactly the issue Paul is addressing in I Corinthians 1:11-13a – “I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, ‘I am of Paul,’ and ‘I am of Apollos,’ and ‘I am of Cephas,’ and ‘I am of Christ.’ Has Christ been divided?”
By listing the groups that were formed because of the quarrels, it is apparent that Paul is saying that these quarrels causing disunity are of a theological nature. Paul, Apollos, and Peter all taught theology and there were some apparent differences between them, but none strayed from the foundation of the gospel – Christ crucified, resurrected, and salvation through him. But people were divided over the various teachers. And Paul said stop it!
There are going to be theological differences among the people of God, but that should not stop us from coming together as the whole people of God in a community. A desire for full doctrinal purity before fellowshipping with another church in town is misguided Don’t give Christ a black eye because you think you and your church alone holds the truth.