Unity Among Christians And Subscription To Creeds -- By: Tom Wells

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 07:4 (Fall 1998)
Article: Unity Among Christians And Subscription To Creeds
Author: Tom Wells

Unity Among Christians And Subscription To Creeds

Tom Wells

The barriers to unity among Christians are formidable and no one must imagine that solutions that arise from unaided human intellect will overcome them. The problems are spiritual. We are divided because of our sinfulness, and our divisions are one aspect of the loss of objectivity within a fallen race. Yet objectivity eludes us. I have it, of course; who could doubt it! But your inability to see beyond your hastily conceived, narrow convictions guarantees that our minds will never meet! We are doomed to division until a brighter day dawns forever. Why can’t you see things my way? Who shall deliver us from this body of conceptual death?

As with other spiritual problems, however, the Scriptures demand our efforts. The fact that a problem arises from sinfulness is a call to attack it with fervor. Individually we must repent of our arrogance in not listening to our brothers and sisters in Christ with sympathy. But corporately ... what can we do corporately? In this article I will discuss a single barrier to unity. What I want to say may be summarized in two short sentences:

1) Our creeds and confessions are one immense barrier to unity.

2) There is no easy or obvious way to cross this divide.

If my first sentence sounds to you like an indictment against treasured historical and doctrinal landmarks, I simply remind you that one function of creeds is to exclude;

no one should be surprised at this. If the second seems pessimistic, keep in mind that there can be no solution without a frank recognition of the problem created by the documents for which some among us are prepared to die.

Creedal unity has a long and honorable history. Beyond gathering for minor events such as ice cream socials and softball tournaments, whatever the church of Jesus Christ does is done on a doctrinal foundation. The absence of a written creed is no real exception. United effort means the presence of common convictions wherever men and women enter intelligently into labor for the Lord. This is nicely and authoritatively illustrated in the earliest church as seen in the book of Acts. We need not confine their “one mind” (Acts 2:46) to doctrine, to the exclusion of all else, to see that if they did not share the apostles’ doctrinal teaching they could not have joined as heartily in the fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer (2:42).

Nor is that all. Paul insists on doctrinal unity in reminding the Ephesians that “There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you ...

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