The simple truth is that the
Bible, God's word, and the Bible alone, contains the answer to our problems
about fellowship, unity and division. It is the divine key to unity. We do
not need smarter men or a new-fangled, higher hermeneutic; we need men with
greater faith and an old-fashioned, deeper trust.
The Simplicity of Unity
We unhesitatingly and
confidently affirm that the unity of the faith is a unity of agreement as to
the truth. That means the truth can and should be understood
understood alike (different understandings equate to some
Christ. This means no organization, plan or doctrine that is not of Christ,
that is not in his gospel, can be set forth as any part of the ground common
Confusing the Issue
Discordant sounds are
expected from sectarian sources, but it is distressing and alarming when
they are heard from erstwhile gospel preachers. Two ideas are now frequently
emphasized, and in both there is a germ of truth, but both are deliberately
promoted at the expense of pure and simple gospel precepts for unity.
said that each local church determines who it will fellowship.
This quite properly means that no alliance of preachers, school or paper can
make brotherhood determinations or issue a creedal basis for fellowship.
This is true. But the implication is that certain doctrines do not
constitute the divine standard by which an individual or church is to make
For example, when a specific
subject comes up, and one aborts a Bible discussion by saying, "Each church
makes its own decision," it implies that each church is at liberty to decide
as it pleases. That's like interrupting a discussion on baptism by saying,
"Each person must decide for himself." That is true. But it is also true
that no church or individual has the right to decide
contrary to Scripture. If they do, though no other church or individual has
the right to usurp their autonomy, they are still wrong! So the
need of the
hour is to study, believe, practice, preach and proclaim what Scripture
says! The fact that we all decide for ourselves does not change the standard
for fellowship, and should never abort a Bible discussion.
14 describes differences that should be allowed. We must tolerate different
interpretations or we will wind up meeting in a bunch of telephone booths."
This is the
voice of ignorance about Romans 14 coupled with the absence of conviction
about divine truth.
Instead of emphasizing that
fellowship and unity are based upon gospel truth, and urging fervent studies
and brotherly discussions, these two ideas are being promoted to the
stifling of study and to the justifying of gross departures from the faith.
Both of them, as is the case
with most error, contain a germ of truth, but then completely mislead the
hearer. It's like saying everybody makes mistakes, and then finishing by
saying we should not worry about repentance. The fact of mistakes,
differences of understanding about something, and the fact that each church
determines its own fellowship as opposed to some hierarchy doing it, does
not change one simple fact -- fellowship is in the light, and to claim it in
darkness is to lie
unity with men without fellowship with God is worthless.
We must go back to the
formula. It will work. It really will.