Theology for the Masses

November 15, 2006

Followup on Unity

Filed under: The Kingdom,Unity — Henry Imler @ 11:45 pm

I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.

– The opening lines of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians

PuritanBob, in responding to my idea about unifying the lovers of Christ makes several points that I want to bring up here. If I read him correctly, he is concerned with the following:

  1. It will lead to a low view of doctrine.
  2. Truth is more important than unity and what I outlined would flip that.
  3. Views like mine lead to moral and doctrinal relativism.
  4. What are the cut off points, Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Mormons, Christian Science, Hindus?

These are very valuable points and I want to address each one. For the sake of brevity, I will address the first two here and the next two in a later post.

I think my proposal can lead to a low level of doctrine, but it does not have to lead there. I think that a compromise can be struck, one where we do not give up on doctrine, on truth, or on unity. If we free people to disagree in unity, realizing our fallibility and give others the same grace God gave us, I think this can lead to a great view of the Truth.

Let me explain what I mean by this. If I disagree with you on doctrine X and that discrepancy leads me to stop associating with you from a theological stand point, I no longer have any hope in correcting what I perceive as an error in your doctrine, nor you in correcting mine. If we instead keep associating from a theological standpoint, there is an infinitely greater chance that whatever errors we have in doctrine will be corrected. If all lay down their pride and strive for truth of God in this world, then my hope has a chance. This is crucial. I envision many blades sharpening each other, the product of which is many sharp blades. As a result, there is a higher level and a high output of doctrine overall.

Is truth more important than unity? I am not sure. The Bible exhorts us to have both. How can we have this? How can I disagree with you and still be of one body? The answer lies in Luke 6:36-38:

36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

37“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

Once again, the key here is holding on to one’s doctrine and reevaluating it constantly, allowing for change if the ideas presented are better than your own. If we hold on to truth and realize that there is only one true configuration that exists, yet allow other people to be wrong while still loving and congregating with them, we can better fulfill the New Testament’s call to be of one mind, one body, and one spirit.

I am having trouble expressing this idea eloquently, so bear with me on this. Here are the tenants, for the sake of repetition:

  1. Unity in Christ ( 1 Corinthians 1:10 )
  2. Reservation of judgement for God ( Luke 6:36-38 )
  3. Attachment to truth, not personal preference ( Acts 17:11 )

I truly think that Christians need to hold to each of these principles. I’ll address the last two issues in a later post.


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