Thursday, November 01, 2007

Unity vs Truth

I never answered the 3rd of my poll questions about whether unity is more important than truth. So here's my stab at it. Some people really believe in unity at all costs. Better to just put your beliefs or the truth in the closet for the sake of "everyone just getting along." After all, the reasoning goes, we are supposed to be loving and peaceful. Christians shouldn't be just picking fights and arguing about dogmatic theological assertions that are more philosophical than they are practical. Well to this I say that it's true - Christians should not be "just picking fights" for the sake of just picking fights. Christians are to be loving but they are also to love the truth and hate lies. Because an entire church is united in heresy doesn't mean that the unity of that church is blessed by God.

The tower of Babel taught us that unity is not always the best way to go. God confused the languages of those archaic one-worlders in order to bring division among them and make them disperse. There is a diabolical unity that is displeasing to God. When people are united in error, unity is not the best policy. Jesus, the Prince of Peace, actually said something (in Matt 10) that many Christians today would consider harsh, unloving and divisive: "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace [not to bring unity], but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person's enemies will be those of his own household." Jesus wasn't looking for unity at all costs; He was looking for followers of the truth and He was that truth.

The unity of believers who love the truth and separate from error is a beautiful thing. And it is glorious for God's people to be doctrinally pure in their minds and lovingly united in their hearts, but the former should be preferred to the later if both cannot be maintained. Truth is more important than unity. God is not pleased when a bunch of heretics are holding hands. Still, we must, as believers, be like the early church who "devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship" (Acts 2:42). J. Gresham Machen wrote this: "Again, men tell us that our preaching should be positive and not negative, that we can preach the truth without attacking error. But if we follow that advice we shall have to close our Bible and desert its teachings. The New Testament is a polemic book almost from beginning to end ... It is when men have felt compelled to take a stand against error that they have risen to the really great heights in the celebration of the truth"

Here's a good video on this same subject:

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