The unity of all believers is a very desirable goal. Indeed, Jesus prayed for unity in the hours before his arrest, beatings and crucifixion (John 17:22-24). Paul rebuked the Corinthians for their disunity (1 Corinthians 1:10-17). Today, disunity marks the so-called protestant world which has fractured and denominated itself into almost innumerable sects. While these groups all cluster around a belief that Jesus is the Son of God and while they often draw near to one another through credal statements and affirmations, the world sees nothing but separatist groups.
As a practical matter, untold billions of dollars are wasted every year as denominations compete with one another and duplicate efforts in evangelism and benevolence. One can only imagine the work that could be done if all were united.
More importantly, millions are lost because they drive the sectarianism and worship as they desire rather than worshiping God the way he desires. The “doctrines of men” (Matthew 15:9; Mark 7:7) are commonplace among the denominations and have replaced the Gospel of Jesus Christ which saves men (1 Corinthians 15:1-2).
To be sure, many caught up in denominational thinking do not intend to worship falsely. Instead they have been led astray by teachers who ought know better than to teach new innovations. Nevertheless, God’s word is understandable and ignorance is no excuse. Truth is knowable (John 8:32) and it is in truth we must worship (John 4:24)
Some years ago, misguided brethren sought to unify with the denominations. Beginning with our supposed near-kin in the Independent Christian Church they have since extended their unification to virtually every sectarian group in the country. Sadly, their attempt at unification has not been based upon the truth, but upon a desire for popularity and numbers. Along the way they have jettisoned many foundational truths upon which the Lord built his church.
The churches of Christ (Romans 16:16) cannot unify with the denominations in their present state anymore than the United States can unify with the People’s Republic of China. Those two nations have a system of government that cannot be reconciled, they have economies vastly different that cannot long co-exist. The constitutions of the two nations, that is, their underlying principles of governance are in sharp contrast and opposition.
Likewise, the denominations are built upon councils, synods and associations that draft statements of faith and credal confessions in addition to the Bible. The denominations most basic beliefs are founded upon the damnable tenants of Calvinism which contradict clear Bible teachings and Bible warnings. Their system of governance is based upon man-made hierarchies which bypass the God-ordained system of church government.
Can there be unity? Yes! But only when the sects are willing to reject their man made systems and stand with us on the basis of the Bible alone. Just as the several states of the United States all stand upon one common constitution, so must all religious bodies stand upon the truth of the Bible. Any document, plan or idea foreign to Scripture must be removed before there can be any hope of unity.
Jesus prayed for unity in Gethsemane, but he did not pray for unity at all costs. Only a unity based in faith in God’s word is possible.
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