Obstacles to Christian Unity 2

I apologize for the gap between posts. It’s been a busy time at work, and I have six children as well. 

 I started the last blog by talking about the importance of unity. You should look at it and make sure you agree. The road to unity is not an  easy one. Unless you think unity is crucial, you will not make the effort.

In the last blog I recommended not calling yourself by divisive names. Today I want to talk about fellowship with other Christians.

There will never be unity unless we are able to fellowship with people whose doctrine we don’t agree with.

Let me say that again: there will never be unity unless we are able to fellowship with people whose doctrine we don’t agree with.

Pentecostals and Non-Pentecostals: A Story

When I was first told this, I was in an Assembly of God church. A brother said to me, “We can’t keep seeing Baptists as half-Christians. They’re our brothers and sisters in Christ.”

The Assembly of God is a Pentecostal denomination. They believe the baptism in the Holy Spirit is a second experience, accompanied by the evidence of speaking in tongues, that all Christians should experience. Baptists don’t believe this.

Baptists have various ways of viewing the Pentecostal phenomenon of speaking in tongues. Most Pentecostals see Baptists (and other non-tongues-speakers) as second-class Christians. They’re saved, but they don’t have the power of the Holy Spirit.

I read a book once where a Charismatic–they’re also tongues-speakers–said that the faith is like a steak that most Christians keep in the freezer. Charismatics have it in the frying pan.

It doesn’t matter which side of the charismatic issue you’re on. You’re not going to get everyone to agree with you; at least not today. Can there be unity without agreement on these things?

How Much is Christian Unity Worth?

Do you believe that those Charismatics are Christians? If you’re a Charismatic, do you believe those Baptists are Christians?

If so, then they’re your family. They’re your brothers and sisters.

Jesus expects you to lay your life down for them. Our Father believes all of them–all that are really Christian–are his children, and he has told you in the Scriptures to be one heart, one mind, intent on on purpose, and to strive together with them for the faith of the Gospel.

Church Unity vs. Christian Unity

Lots of Christians are willing to devote themselves to unity in their own church. But are we willing to devote ourselves to unity among Christians in general?

Remember, Jesus said that the unity of his disciples would prove to the world that the Father sent him. He requested “perfect unity,” the unity he has with the Father, as proof of who he was.

Are we really giving him that while a Presbyterian church and Baptist church sit on corners of the same intersection?

Call it unity all you want. You’re not  fooling God; you’re not fooling the world; you’re not fooling me; and I hope you’re not fooling yourself.

Doctrine divides the Presbyterian and Baptist churches.

They both admit the other is Christian, but they don’t fellowship. They mind their own business. They live and let live.

That is tolerance, not unity.

It’s certainly not the perfect unity of the Father and Son and Jesus prayed for.

Can We Really Do Anything?

What I’m requesting of you will get harder and harder as the days go by, but you can start with this simple thing. I have seen God bless it with godly Christians over and over.

Personally become blind to denominations!

Last time I asked you to refuse to call yourself by a denomination. Now I’m asking you to ignore them as distinctions between Christians.

For right now you may have to attend a denominational church. We are working towards the day when you won’t. I believe that day can come. Remember, it was Jesus who prayed for it.

Find a different church’s prayer meeting to attend. Find a local Bible study that’s interdenominational or of another denomination. If you move to a new town, attend a new denomination’s church!

That’s asking a lot, I know.

We are ignoring the request of Jesus Christ–supposedly our Master and Lord–that we be perfectly united in one mind and one heart (re: Php. 2:2). It’s asking a lot of him to put up with centuries of our lack of concern about something that was on the forefront of his mind as he went to his death for our sins.

Someone has to do something.

This is the easy stuff. Are you that someone?

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4 Responses to Obstacles to Christian Unity 2

  1. Shammah says:

    Hi Micah. I’m going to send you an email, too.

    There are probably a lot of differences between what eastern churches have in their Bibles and what the west has. One I know about is that the Syriac Peshitta has Jesus saying “it’s harder for a rope to go through the eye of a needle” rather than “it’s harder for a camel . . .” I rather like that correction.

    As far as their Bible saying “My God, My God, for this I have been prepared” rather than “why have you forsaken me”–well, I’ve never heard that.

    I’d have to some reseach, but I’m under the impression that it’s only a couple small eastern churches, like the Assyrian Orthodox Church of the East, that get their New Testament from the Peshitta. I believe the major orthodox churches, like the Eastern Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, and Greek Orthodox, use the Greek manuscripts like we do.

    One funny thing about that blog is his reference to Jephthah. He says “because of the Greek translation used.” Actually, in the Old Testament, it’s the eastern churches who use a Greek text, the Septuagint. Here in the west, we use the Hebrew Masoretic text.

    Also, the difference on the Jephthah issue is very difficult. I looked it up in the Septuagint–I have access to it, but not the Peshitta–and my Septuagint translation reads just like the KJV. I looked at the Greek there, and it seems possible to me that it could be translated “with Jephthah’s daughter,” but not certainly.

    Then again, I’m not much of a Greek scholar.

  2. Pingback: The Veil Has Been Lifted » Blog Archive Obstacles to Christian Unity 2 by: Shammah

  3. Micah says:

    Sorry, here’s the link I forgot to copy into the last comment:
    http://www.faithwriters.com/article-details.php?id=1720

  4. Micah says:

    Shammah,

    First of all; Amen! Thank you for posting this. It is a clear challenge to us to live out Jesus’ prayer for unity. Lately and in retrospect, I’ve been avoiding denominations, consequently, I lack fellowship, but it’s clear there are ways of showing the divided members of the church that there’s a better way. We need to love eachother in spite of our differences.

    Aside from that, I stumbled across something online that I had previously never heard discussed. I was wondering if you had and could give me any of your thoughts on this article about “Surprising Differences in Bible Translations” from the eastern to western bibles. I referenced some scriptures and paralleled them with about 20 different versions and couldn’t unravel what this writer had claimed about Mat. 27:46 and Mar. 15:34.

    Thanks,
    Micah

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