Spiritual Unity VS. Social Unity: Which Should Define Your Place of Worship?
By: Frances Swaggart
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Ps. 133:1).
“Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3).
“Till we all come in the unity of the Faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13).
The Bible admonishes Believers to strive for the unity of the Faith, and to do so continually and diligently. “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common Salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that you should earnestly contend for the Faith which was once delivered unto the Saints” (Jude Vs. 3). The meaning of the word “unity” as it is brought forth throughout Scripture clearly speaks of spiritual unity, a unity of belief. If Believers are to work together successfully to further the cause of Christ, they must be of like-spirit, of like-faith. Believers must first be in agreement regarding essential Biblical Doctrine because it is the doctrine a person believes which will influence his spirit. Different spirits are uncomfortable together, but like-spirits bond effortlessly. Let’s look at it this way. The doctrine one believes essentially determines which god he worships. Thus, his spirit will be influenced by the very nature of that deity. The Christian comes to know the true Lord through the Doctrines of Scripture. Jesus Christ Himself was the Word made flesh. If the church does not have unity in Biblical Doctrine, it cannot have unity in the Spirit. And, let it be known, there is only one Holy Spirit. “God is a Spirit: and they who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth” (Jn. 4:24). Unfortunately today, many are trying to change the spiritual unity of the church to a social unity, which will not be able to maintain the divine fortitude needed to withstand the coming evil days. Lord, help us to be unified in your Holy Spirit rather than in our humanity.
Insisting upon the true spiritual unity of the Faith is among the greatest of every Believer’s responsibilities until Christ’s return. God’s Word tells us that this Truth will constantly come under attack. False teachings will attempt to change the simple Gospel message and destroy the Salvation of many. “Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the Faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (I Tim. 4:1). But in the church today, the unity we are striving for has been subtly redefined, and this false community-based social unity actually ends up working directly against the true unity of the Faith. The strategy of using neoorthodox language to deceive the public is actually quite common among those who wish to further liberalize the church and the world. It takes terminology whose definitions were accepted in the past because of their accuracy, and begins misapplying these traditional terms to new ideas. People end up accepting the new idea based on familiar language before they realize it is being used completely out of context. The idea that there can be unity in the church despite differences of belief regarding the essential Doctrines of Salvation is perhaps the biggest farce being perpetuated in the modern church. The Lord plainly rebukes such an attitude. “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3). However, what we are hearing espoused from pulpits across America today is a siren call to lay down our differences and labor toward common goals.
THE MESSAGE OF THE CROSS IS THE CURE
This enchanting love song promises us refuge from the crashing waves of the persecution we endure for the cause of Christ, persecution which comes from both the world and our apostate brethren. It promises that we no longer have to separate ourselves from those who are teaching false doctrine and from those who insist that their lifestyle of sin is accepted by God. Come, they say, and let us work together to end the world’s hunger, fight incurable diseases, and provide counseling for victims of natural disasters. Let’s show the world how much Christians really care. But, this will not really cause anyone to recognize the true value of the Christian Faith. Many other social institutions, religious organizations, and celebrity charities provide aid for those in need. Besides, it is at this point that the labor of the church has ceased from being categorized as “Christian.” Remember, the real work of Christianity is the preservation and evangelization of the correct Biblical Doctrine, the Message of Christ and Him Crucified! Our work is to lift up the Name of Jesus and tear down the useless ideas of men. “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the Knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (II Cor. 10:5). Humanity cannot be adequately helped if the cause of its problems has not been addressed, and this is where the church was meant to shine as a genuine Light of Hope for the world. The true church is the only establishment on earth capable of identifying the real problem and proclaiming the real solution! Christians are to joyfully proclaim this pure and undefiled message: Sin is the cause for humanity’s ills, but the Message of the Cross is the Cure! But, we have turned our back on this work and instead adopted a false unity which can accomplish nothing more than humanistic social service. Truly our labor is in vain! “For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain” (I Thess. 3:5).
Recently, Rick Warren made this statement in issue #337 of his Ministry Tool Box: “As pastors, as shepherds of God’s people, it’s our job to protect our congregations from Satan’s greatest weapon – disunity. It’s not always easy, but it’s what we’ve been called to do.” At first glance, most Christians would agree. As we have already explained, disunity of Faith is indeed a work of evil; it is the same as being disunified with Christ. However, Rick Warren has tricked his followers because he is not speaking of spiritual unity here, but rather social unity. Disunity of faith is not the kind which threatens Rick Warren. His real concern is that the Believers who are striving for spiritual unity will discover that many of his programs and plans do not line up with the Word. So, he must silence the mouths of these who would attempt to point out these errors. These people must be labeled as “bad guys” or “troublemakers.” Watch how Warren twists Scripture to work against these who are taking seriously their Call to maintain the purity of the Faith. He quotes Titus 3:10 from the NIV version of the Bible which states, “Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him.” Warren says this means that after two warnings, a pastor may have to remove a divisive person from his church. But, what is meant by “divisive?” Of course, Rick Warren is referring to those who refuse to comply with his established church programs, even if they are unscriptural. However, if we look at the King James Version of the Bible, we can clearly see what the Lord really meant by a “divisive” person. The KJV says, “A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject.” A heretic speaks of one who is out of unity spiritually-speaking, not socially-speaking. This is another reason many of the modern translations of the Bible can be very dangerous. False prophets can use their wording to further deceive the people and continue in their ungodly directions.
THE BLIND LEAD THE BLIND!
The Bible’s definition of unity and Rick Warren’s definition of unity are not the same. Warren’s definition means the elimination of all questioning regarding the methods and/or leadership of the church, even if such would ultimately work to preserve true Faith. Therefore, he has also eliminated from his congregation any sense of individualism or the ability to think for oneself. He has placed a false social unity above the Truth of God’s Word, and made people like the Bereans the ultimate sinners in the eyes of the people. The Believers in Berea were commended in the Bible for their insistence that any teaching brought to them be Biblically accurate (Acts 17:11). Warren’s Purpose-Driven church, which does not allow room for Believers to strive for the unity of Faith, instead functions on manipulative consensus-thinking. This is not unity; it is brainwashing! It uses peer pressure as a guiding force to keep inquisitive individuals in line. But, Jesus said, “. . . And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch” (Mat. 15:14).
THE WRONG KIND OF UNITY
Pope Benedict also believes in the wrong kind of unity as he made clear in his Angelus address in St. Peter’s Square on January 20, 2008. Speaking to a crowd of approximately 200,000 people, the Pope spoke concerning this special “Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.” He encouraged Believers to “never grow tired of praying for unity among Christians!” But look, this next statement shows that the unity he speaks of is social, not spiritual, because it excludes doctrinal agreement. An on-line article in the Catholic News Agency states: “During this week of prayer, Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans, and Protestants, ‘implore the Lord together, in a more intense way, for the gift of communion,’ the Pontiff reminded the faithful. . . . ‘The evangelical mission of the Church is thus an ecumenical walk, a journey of unity in faith, in evangelical witness and authentic fraternity’” (http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=11509). The term “ecumenical” speaks of a worldwide scope or applicability. Members of differing faiths strive to find possible commonalities among them and agree to respect one another’s spiritual journeys. But, true Christians cannot do this when they know another’s belief will send him to Hell; Christians are compelled to speak the truth in love. On October 27, 1986, in Assisi, Italy, Pope John Paul II began one of the greatest ecumenical movements in history. He gathered the leaders of the world’s most prominent religions to pray for peace, espousing that they were all praying to the same god despite their differences of belief. Remember, though, that this is impossible because it is doctrine that will determine which god you worship. John Paul II later allowed the Dali Lama to place a Buddha on the altar for a Buddhist worship ceremony to take place there at a Catholic church (Hunt, Dave. A Woman Rides the Beast. Internet video.http://video.aol.com/video-detail/a-woman-rides-the-beast-dave-hunt/1482438308).
RE-THOUGHT AND REINVENTED?
Even more religious leaders are promoting this false social unity, which is void of Spiritual Truth. On January 17-19, 2008, a large conference took place at Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral and was attended by many well-known “pastors” and other secular leaders such as Erwin McManus, Chuck Colson, Rupert Murdoch, Kay Warren, Gary Smalley, Henry Cloud, George Barna, Bishop Charles E. Blake, Jim Burns, Pres. George H. W. Bush, Dr. Ben Carson, Dr. Tim Clinton, Phil Cooke, George Foreman, Jon Gordon, Dr. Michael Guillen, Lou Holtz, Dan Kimball, Larry King, H.B. London, Jr., Jay Sekulow, Ben Stein, Lee Strobel, and many others. The conference was entitled “Rethink”, where the obvious goal of the meeting would be to find unity among religions, even if it means finding it outside of Biblical teaching and Truth. One observer of the conference wrote: “For nearly two thousand years, most professing Christians have seen the Bible as the foundation for the Christian faith. The overall view at the Rethink Conference, however, is that Christianity, as we have known it, has run its course and must be replaced. . . . Speakers insisted that Christianity must be re-thought and reinvented if the name of Jesus Christ is going to survive here on planet earth now that we are in the twenty-first century” (Oakland, Roger. My Trip to the Rethink Conference, 2007 – http://www.understandthetimes.org/commentary/c73.shtml).
UNITY OUTSIDE OF TRUTH?
This is a horrifying example of forsaking spiritual unity for social unity! What could be more dangerous or have any greater eternal consequence than to re-think the Truth? God’s Word is the Eternal, Absolute Truth, which has never changed and never will change. Any conference worth having would further clarify, celebrate, and reaffirm the Truth, not reinvent it! Unity outside of the Truth will ultimately unify people in the one place none of them wish to go. No words can describe the hatred they will feel toward one another, when they realize it was this fellowship which put them in the eternal torment of Hell. The sacrifice of spiritual unity was not worth their temporary social benefits on Earth. They fought the wrong battle! If they had only heeded the clear admonitions of Scripture rather than accepting various spiritual paths they might have saved their souls: “Fight the good fight of Faith, lay hold on Eternal Life, whereunto you are also Called, and have professed a good profession before many witnesses” (I Tim. 6:12). “And that from a child you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise unto Salvation through Faith which is in Christ Jesus” (II Tim. 3:15).