A Case For Unity by Rocky Fleming
“Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.” 2 Timothy 2:12 (NIV)
Do you ever have a deep feeling that something is just not right about the divisions within the Church, based on Bible interpretations that have produced different denominations or different ministry philosophies? Holding onto certain points as “the only way” and excluding other interpretations of the same passages or even conflicting passages, becomes a battle ground with some self-appointed keepers on the truths. I wonder if these “keepers of the truths,” ever become concerned about how our Father feels about their war with words against other Christians and their take on theological points different from theirs? They judge other Christians who they don’t agree with as wrong and blasphemous, while affirming themselves as the only right way to see things. They seek to pull down other people and their ministries rather than encouraging them toward unity where clearer theological points are better understood, even their own point of view. They criticize rather than celebrate that God is getting His glory from other ministries, for it is not their own way of seeing things? But do they also ever have a deep feeling that something is just not right about quarreling over words and spewing judgements against other Christians as I do? I feel the Spirit’s grief with these self-righteous criticisms that some Christians and ministers and ministries have against other ministries. Here’s what I feel the Lord is saying. “It’s got to stop!” for we must understand that our battle is not be against each other but rather against the accuser of our brethren who is having great success with his whispers into our ears (Revelations 12:10).
I feel that Christians around the world should unite on the non-negotiable points of Christianity that we should all agree on and allow the other distinctions to be our own without criticizing other points of view as being wrong. If it is directly against what scripture teaches, we have a case to make against wrong points of view. But if it is open to interpretation, I think we should all remember that God looks at more than strict, fundamental interpretations. Ask the Pharisees, for they didn’t understand that their hardened hearts countered their works with attempting to be absolutely right about biblical interpretations. Additionally, there are greater, mysterious biblical truths to be considered by other points of view. Rather than shutting them out we should listen to them and consider the fruit that has come from those points of view. Most of all, is God getting His glory with what they are doing from the way they are led?
If Christians are looking for that which we should all agree on then the essential points found in the Five Solas, known as the Five Pillars of Reform, should be those unity points. “Reform” means to repair, to remake, to rebuild. The Reformation in the 16th Century was about reorienting, getting back to what was lost, ridding the corruption, and reforming the misguided thinking of Christians at the time toward biblical accuracy, and unity with God and each other. The Five Solas represent a simplistic but accurate guide, which I think all Christians should rally around. They are:
Sola Scriptura (“Scripture alone”): The Bible alone is our highest authority.
Sola Fide (“faith alone”): We are saved through faith alone in Jesus Christ.
Sola Gratia (“grace alone”): We are saved by the grace of God alone.
Solus Christus (“Christ alone”): Jesus Christ alone is our Lord, Savior, and King.
Soli Deo Gloria (“to the glory of God alone”): We live for the glory of God alone.
As we read scriptures that slant our perspective toward a certain point of view, it is a good way to understand the mystery better by filtering our thoughts about those scriptures through all of the Five Pillars of Christianity. Does the scripture agree or disagree with the Five Solas? For instance, if a scripture is strong on works that would move us toward legalism to receive or prove our salvation, how does it conflict with Sola Gratia (grace alone), for that thought about God’s grace is grounded in a multitude of scriptures that support it. How about a scripture or thought that tells us that we play no part in God’s salvation of our soul and we are passively in or out no matter what we do? But Solas Fide (faith alone) tells us that our faith plays an essential part in our salvation, and there are many scriptures that support that point of view found in the Bible? How about some modern-day messaging that teach that Jesus is only one of many paths to God, when Solus Christus (Christ alone) teaches us that He is the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except by way of Him? How about those people who teach that scripture is not inspired by God, and that it is only a historical document that is not relevant to today’s society? How does Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) speak against that evil thought and teaching, for there is an abundance of scripture, and history to support that the Holy Word of God has been authentically inspired by God and is totally relevant for today’s needs.
These are only a few examples with how the Five Solas can keep us grounded in our faith, but there is more. As Christians living in troubled days throughout the world, can we at least agree on Soli Deo Gloria (to the glory of God alone) as our rally point to love and appreciate one another? Can we grant grace to those we don’t understand or agree with for the sake of Soli Deo Gloria? Can we cease our criticism of other Christians and their effort to bring glory to Christ though it not be our way, for the sake of Soli Deo Gloria? After all, isn’t that the main mission of the Church and Christians?
Soli Deo Gloria!