By Not Known
There is a certain danger when human beings are united. And the best example from antiquity is there in Genesis 11 where God confused the language of the whole world at Babel so that human beings would not be full of themselves, and so deny him.
Throughout Christian history, the very danger of Babel is found not in the world but within the institutionalised churches. Bigger buildings, grander visions, fatter budgets, steeper traditions, and loftier polities all in the name of promoting Christian unity ironically leave the world starving for God’s love outside the high walls of Christendom. The 1517 Protestant Reformation was in part a response to the error of achieving unity by human efforts within the Western Church establishment. Today, unity of such a kind has often led to new excesses and abuses in the form either of denominational-centrism or petty church-splits. We are after all, fallen creatures!
How then is true Christian unity to be? When we read a passage like Acts 2:42-47, on what exactly is that unity of the early Church founded? Verse 42 tells us – They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching… The primary location of Christian unity is in what the early Church Fathers called the Rule of Faith. Central to this Rule are the confessional beliefs such as those found in the Apostles Creed. True Christian unity is rooted in the Gospel alone.
Understood correctly, there is then a place for on-going divine “disunity” within the Church so that God can expose ‘Babel’ unity and establish Gospel unity. The 16th Century Protestant Reformation was indeed a necessary divinely ordained “disunity” within the Church through Reformers committed to the Gospel for the preservation of Christianity.
Acts 2:42-47 is not about individual church unity, or denominational unity, or religious unity. It is centrally Gospel unity in the Church expressed in her work produced by faith, her labour prompted by love, and her endurance inspired by hope in the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess 1:3). And Gospel unity is self-evidenced in Gospel growth. Therefore, let us be sure to seek Gospel unity in our churches today.