Many people in religious circles cry for unity as they are tired of seeing so many different denominations working separately in the world and teaching so many different doctrines. Butt he problem with this call is that it is naive and misunderstands what the Bible teaches on the subject. We are going to use a few quotes from the book The Theology of the Hammer by Millard Fuller, and while it was written 22 years ago, the idea of unity is the same as it is now.
The World Council of Churches described its goal today as a common spiritual journey towards visible unity (pg. 81)
Habitat is in sympathy with the efforts of the World Council of Churches and other groups to influence churches & God’s people to cooperate & work together (pg. 84)
Habitat for Humanity is in agreement with the National Council of Churches as we are with that of the World Council of Churches but we are not a member of either. (pg. 84)
My sincere hope is that the theology of the hammer can transcend all barriers and that we can get everybody working together (pg. 84)
Now we are not talking about Habitats’ philosophy here but focused on the misconstrued idea of church unity. We think Habitat does a good work for people but we think they, like so many other Christian organizations, do not understand what God is talking about when he has Paul tell the Corinthians about being united. We will quote that verse in a minute as it is the verse many people turn to, and it is quoted in Mr. Fuller’s chapter on Unity in that book.
10 Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all [e]agree and that there be no [f]divisions among you, but that you be [g]made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment (1 Cor. 1 NASB)
When people read this verse they think that it is more important than other passages of scripture and that Paul is talking about just the Corinthian church but to everyone claiming to be Christian. This is where they make their mistake. Paul is not talking to the Gnostics, the Sadducees, the Essenes and all the different false teachers, he is specifically talking to the true church of Christ and their infighting; not their failure to work with false teachers, those who claim to be of Christ yet bring another gospel, the Gnostics and other heretical people.
There is no instruction here for the true church to work with those who do not believe the Bible yet use the Bible for their own purposes and be united because they all claim to be of Christ. Nor is Paul telling the church to adopt and bring into their midst false teaching and call it good. In fact none of the verse which contain the word unity do this
What Paul is telling the Corinthians is the same thing he is telling everyone of Christ, ‘you are to be unified with each other, not with those who do not accept what the Bible teaches.’ The call for unity does not over-rule God’s teaching on avoiding false teachers, etc., or being separated from the world and other biblical teachings that guide our Christian lives.’ In other words, those who truly are redeemed, are to be unified with each other not with the lies of those pretending to be Christian.
This means that while we engage in humanitarian work like Habitat, we do not call false teachers good or embrace them as part of the family of God. They are not of God and we need to be wary of how we conduct ourselves when we encounter those who do not accept the truth.As Paul writes later, there is no fellowship between righteous and unrighteous, light and darkness’ and many who call themselves Christian, like the WCC, are still in darkness and do not have God with them.
We cannot be united with those who do not teach what Christ and the apostles taught. Unity requires the use of discernment and we must discern whether or not the person bringing a faulty gospel is just simply new in their Christian life, misguided or actually rejects the truth and brings the false gospel purposefully.We cannot throw the baby out with the bath water but make every effort to make sure they actually are false Christians and teachers before we take any action.
Once w do that we do not embrace them and call them brother but call for their repentance of their sins. If they repent and adopt the truth then we can be united with them but if they don’t we do not unite with them and say we are all part of the same savior or faith.One of the keys to help us is the following verse
Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.(Col. 3:14)
Love does not blindly accept everyone upon their declarations but examines what another person believes before accepting them as a part of the family of God. Love does not keep people in sin nor does it accept sin or false teaching into a person’s life or the church. A faulty view of love has hurt the church more than its members realize.
Love makes sure only the truth enters in. This is what makes people like Mr. Fuller so dangerous to the church. Not his mission in life but his faulty view of what the Bible teaches.And it is the faulty views of people who cause so much damage to the cause of Christ and ruins so many denominations and local congregations. This is done when those faulty views are accepted then taught to others in the church.
Unity does not mean we accept false teaching, personal interpretations and then put on a bright face for the unbelieving world to see. Unity is when the church removes the false teaching, the faulty ideas and comes together under the truth. People are not united when they accept those with false religious ideas and practices. You have two or more different ideas and the difference cannot be united, that is why they are called ‘different’.
There is only one truth and everyone must come to it before they can be united. Unfortunately, so many people do not want that one truth which is why we have over 40,000 different religious organizations, denominations and other religious groups. We cannot be united when so many people reject the truth. Interpretation is not the truth.As Jesus prayed to his father
17 Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.
20 “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; 21 that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may [f]believe that You sent Me.
So we must understand that there is only one truth, God’s truth and that knowledge and pursuit is what unites us. We get rid of the false teaching and teachers and proclaim the truth so that all may know it and the truth about unity is that unity does not come by including sin and unrepentant sinners into the family of God.
We can still be unified but only if we do it God’s way.