Friday, February 26, 2010

Why Christian Unity is Not as Simple as White People Loving Michael Bolton

Yesterday I posted a book review of The Cross.  Before posting these reviews I typically check out reviews to see whether I am totally off base in my opinion.  This is one instance were I would be the only one giving the book a 1 out of 5 stars.  If certain people read the review I will probably get much criticism for my review.  I will probably be labeled as unspiritual, hindering the Spirit, and criticizing “God’s man”. 

Apart from the shock of no other person agreeing with me on Amazon, something else caught my eye.  The only other person to give the book a 3 out of 5 is an unbeliever.  This person noted that all of the unbelievers she asked actually liked the book.  The only ones that offered criticism were those that were believers.  This of course is by unbelievers as a reason to not believe.  “You think you have the truth market cornered and yet you cannot agree with one another about simple things”.

This argument is appealing.  Partly because it has some truth.  Our love and unity is perhaps our most powerful apologetic (John 13:35).  But unity is not as simple as everyone with the name Christian gets along and loves one another.  To me this would be like saying Michael Bolton is a white guy, therefore all white guys have to like Michael Bolton.  Or better yet, Hitler was German, therefore, all German’s should get along with Hitler.  That is appalling, especially that part about Michael Bolton. 

Christianity unity is found in our union with Christ.  Christian unity is centered upon the truth in Christ.  Whenever you stray from truth you stray from Christ.  Whenever you stray from Christ you stray from unity with one another as well. 

Christians are in union with one another.  This unity means covering over a ton of junk with love.  But Christians are not in union with unbelievers or those merely professing Christ.  Furthermore, unity does not demand absolute conformity.  I can be in unity with Arthur Blessitt in as much as he loves Jesus and is centered on the Cross.  In every way in which he (or I for that matter) strays from the faith delivered we cannot be in unity. 


  1. I've been thinking about this for a few days, brother, and I think it's worth saying that no Christian has "the corner on the truth market." I think one reason why Christians are able to disagree is that only God and God alone definitively knows all the truth. We see as clearly as we can through the revelation that He's given. Sometimes this brings us to different answers, and sometimes we're wrong. To say that we are only as united as we are close to the truth is perhaps to miss the unbeliever's argument altogether. I think perhaps we should start with the truth that only God has all of the truth, and the truths we hold we hold only insofar as they come from Scripture. If we get there, we can probably explain many of the differences of doctrine as either bad beliefs (don't come from Scripture or are opposed to Scripture), or differing interpretations of texts/issues (which might be within the pale of acceptability depending upon the legitimacy of the exegesis from Scripture). What do you think? Am I being too wishy-washy?

  2. Will,

    Great comment. I think in a sense we are saying the same thing...only you are adding a side to this that I am not intending on addressing. I should have put a disclaimer that says this is not "all" their is to Christian unity.

    In this particular context what I am addressing is the idea that everyone that bears the name Christian must unquestioningly accept everything that another person believes just because they bear the name Christian.

    The charge that we "think we have the God market cornered" is sadly partially true. We often walk around with ridiculous arrogance. Many I think can fall into the trap of thinking we are saved because we made a good decision and the unbeliever is just not making wise decisions. Then many walk around with arrogance toward other believers, over secondary or tertiary doctrinal issues. (I can fall into either trap just as anyone else). But this is not what I am addressing in this post.

    Allow me to give an example. If the unbeliever is saying, "why can't Arminians and Calvinst get along" then I think he is making a valid point. So long as he is speaking of our spirit of unity and not forsaking dialogue. If he is saying that there is no truth and we should just get along, or something of that nature, then obviously we are talking about something different. But if he is talking simply about our spirit of unity then I agree--we ought to get along and put our squabbles aside.

    But if he is saying why can't you get along with someone that preaches and teaches the false gospel of prosperity (a Cross-less Christ) then we cannot get along. We cannot get along because Christian unity is based upon Christ and the truth of Scripture. When someone departs from that they depart from true Christian partnership/fellowship/unity (koinonia). Can we still be cordial? Yes. Should we treat them with kindness and such? Yes. But my point is that Christian unity is centered in Christ and Scripture--when you depart from that you depart from that which your unity is grounded on.
    Make sense? And I don't think your wishy-washy I just think you are talking about something different...



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