the weblog of Alan Knox

More on unity and doctrine

Posted by on Mar 10, 2010 in unity | 5 comments

I left a comment similar to this on facebook, and I thought I would add it here too:

The differences that I and another believer have are subordinate to the covenant which unites us (that would be our mutual covenant/relationship with God, not a covenant that we devise between ourselves). In many ways differences between believers actually serve that unity. However, we can allow our differences to separate us when we attempt to base our unity in our common doctrines, dogmas, or beliefs.

Our unity is found in our common relationship with God. Since God is our Father, then we are brothers/sisters. We do not have to create this union, we only have to live according to it, such that we do not allow our differences to become more important than our mutual family relationship.

“Doctrines” and “dogmas” are different teachings that must be subordinate to our mutual relationships. Of course, as Paul, Peter, and others point out in Scripture, there are some beliefs that demonstrate that we are NOT brothers and sisters (i.e. a doctrine that God does not exist, or a belief that Jesus is not the son of God, etc.). However, for those we recognize as brothers and sisters because we recognize that Christ has accepted them (Romans 14:7), then we are bound by our relationship with God to accept them as brothers and sisters as well, and to treat them as brothers and sisters.

Today, we tend to acknowledge that someone is a brother/sister (Christian) based on the mercy and grace of God, but we only treat someone as a brother/sister based on their doctrines, dogmas, or beliefs. However, according to Scripture, if we acknowledge someone as a brother/sister based on the mercy and grace of God, then we must also accept that person as a brother/sister and treat that person accordingly.


5 Comments

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  1. 3-10-2010

    I read a comment on a blog the other day that said that sometimes we need to separate over doctrinal issues for the sake of the unity of the Body. Written without a hint of irony.

  2. 3-10-2010

    Alan,

    Yes! And the covenant was ratified without our participation, on our behalf, by Jesus Christ, with His own blood.

    Now that IS a covenant!

  3. 3-10-2010

    I don’t think the word subordinate is strong enough, more like dung!!

    Jesus Christ unites us in His blood, sends us one Spirit gives us one baptism (not that one) brings us in relationship/reconciliation with one Father yet we tell the Godhead that I don’t want to be involved with your beloved because I don’t agree with them, when then turn to same Godhead for grace and wisdom!

  4. 3-11-2010

    Arthur,

    I’ve heard the same thing. Someone once told me that denominations demonstrate our unity.

    Aussie John,

    Yes, exactly! And, that covenant (and none other) is the basis for our unity.

    Lionel,

    God has perfect unity in relationship with himself because Father, Son, and Spirit each know perfectly and know one another perfectly. We, on the other hand, do not know perfectly, nor do we know one another perfectly. Thus, there will be differences and disagreement. The question is: How do we respond to one another as a result of those differences/disagreements. I think Paul was answering this question in Romans 14-15.

    -Alan

  5. 4-27-2011

    Alan,

    I have read and reread your words on disagreement not equaling disunity and the advice on how to be unified despite disagreements. I have a friend who is currently pushing me away because we disagree on how to treat her pregnant teen. I have become utterly worn down with the arguing (which only happened after she begged me to argue with her instead of speak to her daughter [whom she has disowned with the intent to bring her back to the Lord by showing her what life without Christian community is like-I’m sure you can guess the rest, but this is the root of the argument between us]. My intent in arguing with her was just to point out scripture contrary to what she is saying and doing. I ended the conversation by saying I was done arguing. She has her beliefs and I have mine on this issue. I refuse to argue anymore.) and am grateful to you for putting into words (backed by scripture) what I was trying to get across to my friend at the end of the conversation. Just because we disagree on this does not mean we should not be friends anymore. Thank you for sharing the wisdom.