Dear Pastor:

        We read that Saudi Arabia and the Vatican would like to broker some sort of religious unity among the various religions.  Does the Bible add any light to such a move?  Is it not a good thing for this religiously fragmented world of ours?

        Dear Reader,

        The Bible does indeed have much to say about religious unity.  On one occasion Jesus said to the Jews that accused him of trickery, "every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand." Mat. 12:25. Therefore, the sooner humanity can unite and work together the better.  

        But this is not all.  Biblical unity is characterized by certain very essential truths.  The first tenet for biblical unity must be found in the Word of God; without this we would be working in vain and at odds with one another.  For example here is what the Bible says concerning the authority of the Word of God, the Scriptures, (Isa 8:20 KJV) To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.  And gain we read elsewhere, (2 Tim 3:16 KJV) All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (2 Tim 3:17 KJV) That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

        So then, while unity is a good thing, if it is not according to the Word of God, for the biblical Christian, then there can be no proper unity.  It is one thing to be united in allowing freedom of conscience and freedom of worship; but it is quite another thing for one group to legislate how unity should be, and how one should worship.  If one is forced to worship on Sunday, or any other day, would that be unity?  Or if one is forced to believe teachings that are more of tradition than of the Bible, would that be unity?  Unity must therefore, first, allow each one to believe according to one's conscience; secondly, unity must respect the beliefs of others, while not accepting these beliefs oneself; thirdly, unity must allow others to disagree with the beliefs of others and not resort to violence; fourthly, unity must be based on the Word of God, and not on an eclectic hodgepodge of the majority.

        Unity should not be equated with sameness; but more with tolerance in diversity.  The sad thing about some who are calling for unity is that they want sameness in major doctrinal teachings.  For example, some churches would rather that everyone accept same sex couples getting married and taking part in church activities; others would like that everyone recognize the papacy as the authoritative guide for all.  Therefore, the only true way for unity to work is if it is based on the Word of God.  Those who do not accept the Scriptures as authoritative are free to disagree and do as they like while respecting the others; those who hold on to the Bible must also freely allow others to disagree.  However, this does not mean that one does not have the freedom to voice his opinion and to proclaim his point of view.

        So while the Vatican and Islam may wish to call for comprehensive unity, for the biblical Christian that unity must be based on the Word of God; and he must also respect the right of others to disagree with him.  Comprehensive unity then, would mean allowing the biblical Christian to worship according to the Bible; allowing the Muslims to use their Koran, and others their own Scriptures, with everyone respecting the other and not resorting to violence and coercion; and not preventing individuals from choosing their own form of worship; and not killing them or incarcerating them for changing their church, or way of worship.  Let us therefore wait and see how these groups define unity as they continue to dialogue together.  God bless.
    
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