All who are truly devoted to Christ the Lord, the only Son of the Father in Heaven, are one body, and are united in Him, regardless of labels, factions, and other human limitation. We declare the unity of His people, and seek to encourage all whom He calls devoted, to act in the oneness He has given us.
Christ is not divided. It is very often in love and devotion, rather than in divisions, that those outside Him can truly see that God loves and sent the Lord for we who do not deserve. See John 17:20-24, and I Corinthians 1:10-13. Like everything else Jesus has done for us, the unity of His body is already complete — we have already been reconciled in one Body to God through the cross (Ephesians 2:16; John 19:30). Jesus is already the head of a single Body just as surely as he is the firstborn from the dead (Colossians 1:18).
There is therefore no reason for any of us to make Church unity happen. Rather, we need to submit to the Holy Spirit, which makes visible that which already exists, makes us able to befriend people who are not like us, and makes each of us able to see each other being changed towards the common One. And while the great power of the Church during the first century of the current era, is often explained merely by observing that the Apostles were present at that time, it should not be overlooked that this same time was marked by a visible and profound oneness, which has not been seen in later times. See, e.g., Acts 1:14, 2:1, 2:42-47, 4:32-33, 11:18, 13:1-3. Indeed, the reduction in public miraculous events from the Church correlates at least as well with the appearance of visible division within it, as it does with the disappearance of the Apostles.
The body of Christ at present is marked by many divisions — denominational, national, cultural. Yet there can be no doubt that most of the people on Earth who name Christ as their Savior, name the same Jesus we do, and are our brothers and sisters, regardless of the different labels we all wear. After all, it is not we who are credited with finding God; it is God who is credited with taking us. It is not a credit to our intellectual ability that we know God: it is a credit to God Himself alone, that He deigns to reach down and adjust our minds so that we acknowledge Him. It is He who reveals Himself to us, and not the other way around (Matthew 11:7). All of us know only in part; and we suggest that each of us will all sometimes err, concerning everything He has not yet revealed to each of us individually about Himself.
Many names by which we identify ourselves, bear the marks of the wars — theological, academic, and military — of past centuries. For example, the current public participants in this Christian Oneness organization, are associated with churches which publicly do not afiliate with certain others, and currently each of us are parts of groups which are descended from others which were named for protests more than 500 years ago. The protests led to many, many wars. But we of Christian Oneness do not wish to label ourselves according to protests and wars. We wish to be defined by our love of brother and neighbor, as the Lord has said we should. We are happy to witness degrees of faithfulness to Christ among all who call upon his name...and total faithfulness among none. We find there to be very strong, and often different, evils and unrighteousnesses within every group of people in this world who claim Christ as Lord and King. We find none to have a rightful claim of true superiority, in the face of God.
History, and thoughts developing apart from the Lord, and the blood foolishly shed over the years, have pulled many divisions far apart. For this reason, and because all of us know only in part, practices and teachings often differ to such an extent that some may not be entirely comfortable with others' thoughts and practices, and vice versa. However, Jesus has asked His Father to produce our oneness, and His Father does not deny Him, for He asks in righteousness. His blood does unify us, and the same Holy Spirit works in all believers, whether we acknowledge it or not. In the end He will take us out of all of these churches, and bring us unto Him as One.
The late John Paul II of Rome, in the 1995 encyclical Ut unum sint ("That they may be one"), took the very large and commendable step of recognizing that some outside his organization are people of Christ and have manifested the Holy Spirit at times in ways his followers and their antecedents have not. The emphases on recognizing that Christ has one Body in spite of the doctrinal and historical divisions of human and not Godly intervention, and upon the practical recognition of our Christian unity through joining together in prayer with those in other fellowships, also appear to be exactly correct. Clearly, all communities of Christ should recognize the Spirit at work within us all. We should join our brethren in prayer. It is time to end the wars of the churches.
It is also clear that many sometimes violent disputes among people called Christian, have been and are merely semantics: in other words, they are mere public arguments about words and their meanings, and demands of homage to strictly human formulae and schools of thought. Invariably, all such are mere human word-battle: none are ever concerning things which the Lord Himself has said, all are demands by human beings for glorification of themselves. It is time for we who look to the Lord, to ask Him to give us the repentance, in order to love and forgive as broadly as He does, and to consider as principal and absolute only His Very Words as He quotes them for us within His Holy Scriptures.
And it is the same for matters of ceremony, church government, various purposes of this world, and other issues. We cannot be altogether true about anything, because to be altogether true is to be entirely without sin, and this is not an option as long as we remain in, and therefore somewhat subject to, our fallen fleshly vessels.
We suggest that it is only God who chooses which of His essential truths shall be revealed and available to any human being in this world. We suggest that it is only by deliberate act of God at any moment, that we can learn or know anything about Him. We suggest that as a result, we should discuss with each other beginning and ending at points of agreement, and should never focus upon points of disagreement.
And we pray the Lord for His gifts of peace, and joy, and love, and understanding, and renewal, and blessings of all kinds, but most of all that His will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.
Ian Johnson & Jonathan Brickman
The Joy of the Lord
God is a Gentleman
The Nature of the Churches
The Church and Sin: Split Splat
Oneness as the Lord Lives
Footprints and a Jagged Rut in the Sand
Some Crucial Words
The Simple Gospel (Good News), a one-page handout.
Friends of God, another handout.
Amigos con Dios, a handout in Spanish.
Acts 8, about the Samaritans.
Acts 9, about Saul of Tarsus (the Apostle Paul).
An Open Letter to Good News Magazine of the UMC
A Brief Study of the Palestinian, Arab, and Israeli Conflict
The Power to Maintain Civilization
Biblical Parables and Prophecy about Society, Politics, and Elections
The Radical Rejection of Politics
Saving the United States of America
God Appoints Individual Rulers
Our Links Page
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