Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Unity and Secondary Issues

During the past couple of weeks we have been blessed by having a team of students from some northern universities come to serve in our church. It would be fair to say that although this has been busy it has been an incredible experience for me personally and, I hope, for the church as a whole. To see God working and people in Hartlepool engaging with truths they previously weren't engaging with has been fantastic.

However, through the process of looking through the book of Ephesians as Christians from different churches and different backgrounds the issue of being united despite theological or ecclesiastical differences became not simply an academic issue but a practical one.
Is it possible for Christians to hold different positions on secondary (non gospel) issues and still be united? I guess most Christians would say yes and this fortnight has certainly demonstrated that to be true.

However I guess a better question is 'Is it possible for one Christian to say that another Christian is wrong and still be united?' Following a long discussion last night I think that this must be possible. If not then I don't see how we can ensure that we are sitting under the Bible's authority. We want to be being moulded and changed by the Bible and so for a fellow Christian to say to me 'I think your wrong about this issue and this is biblically why I think it' shouldn't threaten me or cause disunity but should rather serve to help me to sit under the Bible's authority better whether I am convinced by his argument or not.

So how do Christians unite? Well I think the temptation is to boil Christianity down to the bare minimum (the deity and humanity of Christ, his death for our sins, the resurrection followed by a response of faith and repentance) and then say anything goes with the rest. But the Bible has more to say than that and we should have more to say too. Just saying that I believe the Bible says that this is a right approach to a secondary issue does not mean I have divided myself from people who hold a different position.
In my church there are a number of people who are Christians but have not been baptised. I think that these people are wrong because I think the Bible repeatedly calls on Christians to be baptised. So what do I do with this? Well I hold that position, I am not scared to voice it but as a church there is no lack of unity because of it because unity comes through Christ's work in us.

It is the job of both the person disagreeing and the person being disagreed with to not allow this to cause division because you both belong to Christ and so are united.


  1. I have recently been challenged by issues concerning unity and about loving others I think that whatever is said needs to be done in love and with Christ at the centre :) sorry I missed house group sounded interesting :)

  2. Agreed although I think just as it is the Christian's responsibility to speak it in love it is also the Christian's responsibility to hear and respond to it in love (regardless of the level of love of the deliverer)

  3. Hi Ben,

    I think you're spot on - that is true Christian unity.

    I wrote about how this works out in the student sphere a while ago -

    You might also find this post by Marcus Honeysett stimulating -

  4. Well your post certainly prompted some discussion! Thanks for referring me to it.