Tuesday, May 30, 2006

A Three-Dimensional Approach to Ecclesiastical Cooperation and Separation

The Church: Unity, Cooperation and Separation
How do we deal with disunity among Christians? It is really that big of a problem. I have struggled much of my ministry with this apparent problem - if one wants to call it a problem. Roman Catholic apologists use disunity as one of their main arguments against the Reformation and its doctrine of Scripture alone. People complain that today that there are tens of thousands of competing denominations each insisting its interpretation of the Bible is the correct one. While this may be confusing to some, I want to ask is it really a problem to be solved?

Richard Phillips, in a book ("THE CHURCH: ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC AND APOLOSTOLIC," P&R Publishing, 2004, 26-27), he co-wrote with Philip G. Ryken and Mark Dever, in commenting on John 17:21, believes that this is not a problem to be solved but an issue to deny its existence. He says,

...according to Paul the church is already united. . . . There is one body and one spirit (Eph. 4:4). Not that there ought to be one body, but that tis one is one body, one unified church. We are not exhorted to create unity among Christians, but to maintain it, that is, to serve and promote the unity that is already a fact(Eph. 4:3) This was the assertion of the Nicene Creed

Bruce Shelley answers this question in Christianity Today (Bruce Shelley, "Denominations - Divided We Stand," Christianity Today, September 7, 1998, 90.) when he wrote:

Denominations were created to make unity in the church possible. . . Considering the human inability always to see the truth clearly, differences of opinion about the outward from of the church are inevitable.

Philip goes on to say that Denominations allow us to have organizational unity where we have agreement, and allow us to have spiritual unity with other denominations, since we are not forced to argue our way to perfect agreement, but can accept our differences of opinion.

The following link is another good site for dealing with some of these issue in a church setting. See what you think and work some of this out.

paleoevangelical: A Three-Dimensional Approach to Ecclesiastical Cooperation and Separation

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