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Vol.  9  No. 7 July 2007  Page 2
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What Is the Source of True Religious Unity?

Louis Rushmore

By Louis Rushmore, Editor

    Bible believers must distinguish between pseudo-unity with its misguided thrust and identify the source of true unity. Souls are at stake!

    Let me illustrate. An ecumenical exercise among several denominations in a community resulted in the formation of a youth center. Purportedly, the youth center was organized to give youngsters something to do and a place to go after school, which might keep them from mischief. Many months later, the youth center announces that its “purpose…is to win our town for Christ.” It calls for unity of religious people to close the town’s “numerous bars and gambling facilities.” And by the way, this ecumenical stepchild of local denominations, which has begun to walk and talk, announces a fundraiser for itself. Providing alternative activities for young people to steer them from trouble is a worthy goal, and so are the goals of closing local bars and gambling establishments. However, is this ecumenical unity and the trappings associated with it the religious unity indicated in the New Testament? (No it is not!)

    Consider this second illustration. Years ago, I noticed in the masthead of stationery for a ministerial alliance the telling sentence: “We have agreed to disagree.” A ministerial alliance is an ecumenical meeting of denominational representatives who cannot quite bring themselves to disregard their respective denominations. Is this the type of unity about which the New Testament teaches? (No it is not!)

    There is only one source of true religious unity! It is not the banding together of diverse religious people to address common, howbeit maybe worthy, goals. It is not the ridiculous mental gymnastics of agreeing to disagree! What, then, is the source of true religious unity?

    The Bible alone, and especially the New Testament for our age, is the true source of religious unity. Period! End of story! Nothing with the Bible, and nothing less than the Bible.

    The apostle Paul by inspiration wrote about “the unity of the [Christian] faith” (Ephesians 4:13-14). While the New Testament was still being written, God provided miracle-assisted church leaders (Ephesians 4:11-12). After the New Testament was complete, miracles were no longer needed. Miracles were designed to confirm new revelation from God (Mark 16:20). Further, miracles were never intended by God to either be a permanent fixture of Christianity or to survive past the completion of the New Testament (1 Cor. 13:8-13). With the completion of the New Testament, we have the Christian faith once and for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3) and everything humanity needs spiritually (2 Peter 1:3). The affect of completed revelation (the New Testament) was “the unity of the faith” without confusion by manmade doctrines and human schemes (Ephesians 4:14).

    Through true, biblical unity, the Lord’s church can stand as a band of religious people for truth and against evil. Nothing short of or different from the Lord’s church can adequately represent godly people in opposition to sin. “Brethren” rather than denominational counterparts stand together in unity (Psalm 133:1; Matthew 23:8). The early church demonstrated Christian unity as it stood together as they “were of one heart and of one soul” and “had all things common” (Acts 4:32). Paul wrote that the early Christians had “the same mind one toward another” (Romans 12:16). Consequently, “with one mind and with one mouth” they glorified God (Romans 15:6). The same apostle admonished the early church to “speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions” among them (1 Corinthians 1:10). Religious people who are truly united “stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27; 2:2).

    Ironically, were every religiously inclined person to accept the Bible alone (i.e., today the New Testament), denominationalism would not exist. The only legitimate religious conviction that anyone can have is religious conviction growing out of what the Bible and especially the New Testament teaches.

    Not only would there be no denominations were religious people to rely on the Bible for the source of religious unity, there would be no other world religions either. There would be no Islam. There would be no Buddhism. There would be no Hinduism, etc. There would be no modern Judaism either.

    If every religiously inclined person in this or any community accepted the Bible alone as the sole source of true religious unity, there would be no denominationalism. More than one of the same church, the church of the New Testament, might exist in a community, but neither denominationalism nor other world religions would exist. More than one congregation of the church for which Jesus died might exist owing to differences in culture or language (e.g., various synagogues in the same city, Acts 6:9). “…there were no fewer than 480 synagogues in Jerusalem, and all nationalities had their own, it is possible that the five different classes here named had each their own synagogue…” (Jamieson, Fausset and Brown). Or, more than one congregation of the Lord’s church might exist in a community owing to differences of opinion on non-doctrine preferences (i.e., not salvation issues), Acts 15:36-41).

    Every religious person ought to be able to rally around the Bible—the Word of God (for us today, the New Testament). This would result in true unity. This would fill the pews of the Lord’s church in any community and depopulate the pews of denominationalism. True unity based on the Bible alone would provide for a strong, united church to both stand for Christ and resist the inroads of Satan on any community.

    How much does the Bible, especially the New Testament, mean to you, or does some other creed book or family tradition mean more to you than the Word of God? Only within the Word of God can one find the solution to man’s sin problem. The Law of Pardon was summarized by Jesus himself in Mark 16:16 when he said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved…”; see also Acts 2:38. The apostle Peter concisely stated a Second Law of Pardon for Christians who commit sin after being baptized (i.e., repent and pray, Acts 8:22); see also 1 John 1:9. The source of true unity begins and ends with the Bible alone, especially the New Testament for people living today.

Works Cited

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft, 1997.
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