The Ecumenical Movement Part 5: A Biblical Unity -- By: Rene Pache

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 108:431 (Jul 1951)
Article: The Ecumenical Movement Part 5: A Biblical Unity
Author: Rene Pache


The Ecumenical Movement
Part 5: A Biblical Unity

Rene Pache

{Editor’s note: Footnotes in the original printed edition were numbered 158–161, but in this electronic edition are numbered 1–4 respectively.}

After having studied the ecumenical movement—its history, principles and development we now turn to the Bible teaching on the important subject of Christian unity. This teaching runs as follows: (1) Christian unity is a result of what was accomplished on Calvary and at Pentecost; (2) it is spiritual—not a unity of organization; (3) it is similar to that which joins the Father and the Son; (4) the church—the Body of Christ—is an organism created by the Spirit and not an organization built by men; (5) true unity rests on a sevenfold foundation which is indispensable (cf. Eph 4:4–6); (6) true unity cannot be separated from truth and love; (7) it implies separation; (8) it is based on diversity and not on uniformity; and (9) the humiliation and revival of Christians are necessary to the manifestation of true unity.

First, Christian unity is a result of what was accomplished on Calvary and at Pentecost. Archbishop Temple once said, “I believe in the holy universal church and sincerely regret that it does not exist at present.”1 The New Testament speaks otherwise—Jesus Christ died to gather together in one all the children of God that were scattered abroad (John 11:52). He is our peace, both for Jews and Gentiles. He has created a single, new man. He hath “reconciled both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby” (Eph 2:14, 16). Since that time it has not been the Christian’s responsibility to create unity by human means; rather he is commanded “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph 4:3). Real spiritual unity exists;

it is the work of God and it is our responsibility to recognize it, preserve it and proclaim it.

Second, the unity of which Scripture speaks is spiritual; it is not a unity of organization. “Keep the unity of the Spirit,” Paul says. Pastor Martin Niemöller recently made this declaration: “We must abandon the false idea that at a given moment the Christian churches have been united, at least in the sense of having a uniform organization. The letters of the apostle Paul prove that the congregations of his time were absolutely independent of one another, but they discussed amongst themselv...

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