With so many Christian denominations and new church groups it seems that complete unity is a long way off.
But over the last decade or so, each denomination (generally speaking) has seemed less entrenched and critical towards others.
In 1910 the Ecumenical Movement was started which promoted unity :
After the International Missionary Conference held at Edinburgh in 1910, Protestants began to use the term ecumenism to describe the gathering of missionary, evangelistic, service, and unitive forces…‘Ecumenism’ Britannica [i]
In 1937 at the Oxford Conference of Life and Work, proposals were drawn up to unite churches with Faith and Order.
To this end, the World Council of Churches, a consultative and conciliar agent of ecumenism, working with national, denominational, regional, and confessional bodies, was inaugurated in Amsterdam in 1948.
But unity can come with a cost on what truth to unite around.
So what is the answer to finding Christian unity?
a) What is Christian unity: A group mentality?
I was in a church and someone leading the service asked us to pray for Christians who were being killed in Asia, and then he said an extraordinary thing.
He said; “and what makes this situation worse is that they are xxx (his denomination), our own brothers and sisters!”
I found such a statement repulsive.
Regardless of which denomination they represented, in my observation above, they were Christians being killed, people bought with the price of the blood of Christ.
People who were God’s own possession, the redeemed of the Lord.
Surely that is enough?
But before we start ‘tutting’ at this person, all Christian groupings fall into this trap – yes and that includes the ‘new’ churches and the house churches.
It shouldn’t matter what denomination, or group, people are from.
See an article on choosing people for church leadership and it’s problems.
b) What is Christian unity: The denominations are so different!
What are denominations in the Kingdom of God?
It’s people that are important.
Christians are now in fellowship with Almighty God.
Paul told the Corinthians:-
.. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.1 Corinthians 1:10-13
I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.
My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you.
What I mean is this: One of you says, ‘I follow Paul’; another, ‘I follow Apollos’; another, ‘I follow Cephas’; still another, ‘I follow Christ.’
Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you?
Were you baptised into the name of Paul?”
Hopefully we would all agree, that to look down on another group of Christians is wrong, and it is divisive.
Our group or denomination can get into that mentality of ‘I follow Apollos.’ or Cephas or Apollos, or Paul, or ‘We follow Christ!’
c) How did Jesus see Christian unity?
…that they may be one as we are one…John 17:11, 20-23
My prayer is not for them alone.
I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one…
May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
Many people stop there, how can we get to that place of complete unity?
There is a lot more to the subject of Christian unity and we’ve only just had the introduction…