A Call to Arms, uh?! I mean, Unity!

I know that those who read my last post are probably thinking that I am anti-fundamentalist. Allow me for a moment to address that issue. I will try to state this as clearly as I can, listen careful now, “I AM A FUNDAMENTALIST!” I am also a person who despises labels. Mostly because I realize that they are necessary and I didn’t come up with them. Oops! There goes that pride again!

Seriously though, I don’t want people out there thinking that I am some anti this or the other. What I was trying to express was concern. I am not against people, I am for them! It is out of concern and personal conviction by the Holy Spirit in my life that I was moved to speak.

I guess for me it just seems foolish that people, who claim to love the same Lord, cannot agree on how to worship HIM. Which brings me to today’s post. The topic of which is unity in the body of Christ.

I know that for some this topic seems to have been discussed to death and frankly should be left where the dead are, i.e. buried. However, I have to say that this topic is central to the state of Christianity at large. For decades now people have caused more damage to the cause of Christ by taking biblically unfounded dogmatic stands and pointing fingers to the point of it being nearly impossible for the world to see what Christ founded: the family of God.

Sure some might excuse this under the guise that every family has quarrels. But let’s be realistic. Spats are one thing, raging wars are another. (In the previous post I addressed what I saw as a key cause of this.) So, again, what is the solution? Well, I will be the first to admit that I do not have all the answers.

Shocking!? I know. But seriously, I often think of the quote, (I really wish I could remember where I heard this one!) “Conflict is inevitable, combat is optional!” I know we will not always agree with one another about the details, (I seldom agree with myself! :)) but fighting over some things makes no sense. Sometimes I want to scream out loud at church, “Fighting fundamentalist fought for something, not against one another!” And that is true, Fundamentalists fought in defense of the inspiration of Scripture, the virgin birth, in short, to defend the very essence of truth!

What is worthy of note is that these folks gathered from many denominations and a variety of places to stand TOGETHER for the truth. In doing this they formed a movement. This movement had a purpose. The movement also was able to move forward because of a unified front. These men knew what was important and they were willing to fight for it. They showed spiritual discernment that was evidenced by their uncompromising stand for truth. Today’s bickering shows an evident lack of discernment. The old axiom of divide and conquer is proving its veracity in that, as a divided and fractioned group, Fundamentalists have not done much for the Kingdom of God.

Please do not misunderstand me. I am not saying that there has not been progress, or that as a movement Fundamentalism is useless. What I am saying is that, compared to the numbers we have, our impact in this world has been relatively low. I know that this may seem like I am putting down the missionaries in the foreign fields and the diligent Pastors at home, but I am not. What I am saying is that by being fractured and divided we have not been helping them the way we should.

I know of missionaries who have been turned down for support by one church because another church with whom they disagree on a particular matter supports them. This is LUDICROUS!!! I know of Pastors who have diligently tried to make an impact in their communities but because the relationship between his church and the one across town is less than amicable the community wants no part of it. (Granted this is not always the current pastor’s fault.) I mean why would people want to be a part of a group that is going to be ridiculed by people that are supposedly on the same team.

All of the above statements lead me to one question. How do we present the world with a picture of what Christ said HIS church would look like? Not just locally but across this world. How do we show a united front? The answer is really quite simple: UNITY! But how can I even think of working with Pastor “A” when he allows his church to do “x”? Simple you don’t have to work WITH him, just don’t work AGAINST him! Can’t bring yourself to say anything nice? Then just be quiet. Most importantly, have you prayed that God would make Pastor “A” whom you disagree with as successful in the ministry he is in as you yourself want to be? Ouch! That one hit home for me! Let me say this bluntly but please do not mistake bluntness for harshness. God will never make your ministry prosper at the expense of another believer’s welfare.


One last thought, it is not about what I think but about what God thinks. What does HE want from us? I believe one thing HE desires from His children is unity.

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5 Comments

Filed under General Thoughts

5 responses to “A Call to Arms, uh?! I mean, Unity!

  1. jerry bonelli

    I would like to state for the record that I am also a fundementalist and I am glad to meet another one. Though I grew up in a Independant “Fundemental” Sepratist Baptist Church I have met very, very few true Fundimentalist. True Fundementalist: One who holds to the fundmental Doctrines of the Bible. I think we should dub all those that add there doctrines to the bible
    pseudo-fundementalists. Isn’t there a warning about that in Revelation 22:18+19 and read this from Matt 15:8+9 This people honors me with their lips,but their heart is far from me;in vain do they worship me,
    teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.(ESV) The people that he was talking about were the Pharesies.

  2. Stewart

    First off,
    Yes a fundamentalist is one who holds to the fundamental doctrines, but you are forgetting aspect #2 for a fundamentalist goes beyond a doctrinal position; its an attitude to protect them at all costs.

    Curtis Lee Laws coined the term and defined it as: “We Suggest that those who still cling to the great fundamentals and who mean to do battle royal for the fundamentals shall be called ‘Fundamentalists.’”

    With that said, I’m not disagreeing with you per se… because there is most definitely a side to Fundamentalism that is ugly (the KJVO crowd for instance). However, there is another side to the coin, and a balance must be found. While I agree that unity is important, I would tend say that God’s glory is more. You see, in the end that which brings he most glory to God is what matters. Sometimes that is unity, but sometimes that is separation. As I was saying a balance is necessary: for secondary or tertiary is completely unfounded.

    It is the fundamentals which must be protected and fought for. Now determining what those fundamentals are is the true question. Because quite frankly music IS NOT a separation issue.

    Anyway, those are my initial thoughts.

  3. Scott

    I don’t call myself a Fundamentalist because, like yourself, Pete, I hate labels; but I do agree with Jerry’s definition of Fundamentalist: one who holds to the fundamental doctrines of the Bible. Therefore, I guess I am a Fundamentalist. If anyone were to look at me and be around me they would not consider me to be one because my methods and philosophy of ministry are not exactly…”Fundamentalist.”
    Herein lies the problem I see. Most of the so-called Fundamentalists very rarely fight for biblical absolutes. Instead, they focus on the methods, appearance, issues, and labels. Thus is where I’ve been labeled a “liberal” because I don’t do things the same way they do, or look the same way they do, or have the same OPINIONS as they do, yet we hold to the same fundamental doctrinal beliefs!
    I could care less about the petty issues and preferences (e.i. music, version, etc.). There’s a lost and dying world out there and with our actions we are telling them to “go to Hell!” (That may seem harsh, but I do not mean that in the secular sense.)Let’s get back to what God has called us to do: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 (NASB)
    Well, that’s my two cents.
    Once again, Pete, right on with this post. It’s amazing how much we think alike yet have been apart for so long!
    Peace, my brother!
    Scott
    By the way, I don’t normally comment on “theological” posts, but this topic has been on my heart for the last few months.

  4. Peter Mular

    Jerry and Scott,

    Thanks for your comments.

    Stu,

    If you will read the article well, you will notice that I never argued for unity at the expense of Doctrinal purity. Nor did I ever say that separation is not necessary at times. What I was arguing was that separation does not mean aggression. If you see the need to separate over something by all means do it (if you are doing it at the Spirit’s prompting and not some self-pious reason). But UNLESS it is about a FUNDAMENTAL doctrine, separate and let the other person do as the Lord leads him/her and keep your trap shut. That is what I am trying to say.
    There are those in Christianity at large from whom I have separated. I agree with them on the fundamental doctrines but when it comes to practice we do not agree so working together would only cause confusion. There are also those from whom I separate because I believe they are teaching heretical doctrines. In each case my actions should reflect the biblical principles I claim to live by.
    I will not speak evil of any man. If asked about a certain doctrinal position of an individual or group I would answer FROM THE SCRIPTURES why I believe they are wrong. (If I can’t do that then I am simply being polemic.) Being wrong still does not make them evil, just wrong.

    Also, Stu, God is glorified most when His children reflect His Holiness AND His Love. Not one or the other, not either or but both. The key is that separation is only for the major doctrines, and we have turned it in to a way to keep people I like in and people I don;t like out. That is neither loving nor Holy. Thanks, as always, for making me think.

    PM

  5. Stewart

    Ok thanks for the clarification Pete 🙂

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