Man-Made Religious Unity

In the account found in Acts 23:7-9, the apostle Paul stood before a Jewish religious council (the Sanhedrin) in Jerusalem. He pointed out to them that he was raised a devout Jew and his arrest was because of his preaching on the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. At that point this council, who seemed united in their dedication to the Law of Moses, showed their true colors. In reality this council had not been united in decades. They were a squabbling group of sectarians that agreed on very little. The high priest and his family of Sadducees usually ruled the day because they controlled the temple in Jerusalem. By inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul merely exposed the hypocrisy of man-made religious unity for all to see.

In our age of religious pluralism (the toleration and compromise of scriptural truth for the sake of harmony and acceptance), everyone wants to go along and get along. No one wants to broach the forbidden topic of biblical doctrine and absolutes. The National Council of Churches, ministerial alliances and even denominations exist because of that reason. On the surface they seem all “sweetness and light” ..... but inwardly, there is bickering and seething differences which sometimes bubble to the surface; such is the hypocrisy of “unity in diversity” (Matthew 23:27).

A case in point is the Southern Baptist Convention. For many years, the conservative wing of this denomination has supported the doctrine of Bible inspiration and inerrancy. Yet, the more liberal wing has disagreed and has gone so far as to set up separate funding for their mission activities and seminaries. Battles have been fought over the ordination of women, neo-Calvinism, acceptance of practicing homosexuals as members, etc. Yet, they put forward a front of harmony and love while engaging in pitched political battles behind closed doors. Similar battles are occurring in the Episcopal Church, the United Methodist Church, and various Presbyterian and Lutheran churches, to name a few. But the church we read about in the New Testament was called to the Master’s standard of unity – the word of God (John 17:20-21; 1 Corinthians 1:10; Philippians 3:16).

Yes, the early church of Christ had its problems with persecution, false teachers and differences of opinion, but in spite of that they spread the gospel to their world (Colossians 1:23). They did it without a man-made organization, convention, association, synod, missionary society, etc. All they had was the word of God and the promises of God to guide them. And that is all the faithful Christian needs today (Matthew 7:26-27). Roelf L. Ruffner

Mike Riley, Gospel Snippets