All who are devoted to Christ the Lord, the only Son of the Father in Heaven, are one body, and are united in Him, regardless of labels, factions, and other human limitation. We declare the unity of His people and seek to encourage all whom He calls devoted to act in the oneness He has given us.
Christ is not divided. It is very often in love and devotion,
rather than in division, that those outside Him can
truly see that God loves and sent the Lord for we who do not
There is therefore no reason for any of us to make Church unity happen. Rather, we need to submit to the Holy Spirit, which makes visible that which already exists, makes us able to befriend people who are not like us, and makes both able to see each other changing towards the common One. Moreover, while the great power of the Church during the first century of the current era is often explained merely by observing that the Apostles were present at that time, it should not be overlooked that this very early era of real power was also marked by a visible and profound oneness, which has not been seen in later times. See, e.g., Acts 1:14, 2:1, 2:42-47, 4:32-33, 11:18, 13:1-3. Indeed, the relative disappearance of public miraculous events from the Church correlates at least as well with the appearance of visible division within it, as it does with the disappearance of the Apostles.
The body of Christ at present is marked by many divisions — denominational, national, cultural. Yet there can be no doubt that most of the people on Earth who name Christ as their Savior, name the same Jesus we do, and are our brothers and sisters, regardless of the different labels we all wear. After all, it is not we who are credited with finding God; it is God who is credited with taking us. It is not a credit to our intellectual ability that we know God: it is a credit to God Himself alone, that He deigns to reach down and adjust our minds so that we acknowledge Him. It is He who reveals Himself to us, and not the other way around (Matthew 11:7). All of us know only in part; and we suggest that we will all sometimes err, concerning anything He has not yet revealed to us about Himself.
Many names by which we identify ourselves, bear the marks of the wars — theological, academic, and military — of past centuries. For example, throughout our lives the current public participants in this Christian Oneness organization, have been associated with churches which publicly do not afiliate with certain others: currently each of us are parts of groups which are descended from some which were named for protests 500 years ago. These protests led to many, many wars. But we of Christian Oneness do not wish to label ourselves according to protests and wars. We wish to be defined by our love of brother and neighbor, as the Lord has said we should. We are happy to witness degrees of faithfulness to Christ among all who call upon his name...and total faithfulness among none. We find there to be very strong, and often different, institutional evils and unrighteousnesses within every group of people in this world which claim Christ as Lord and King. We find none to have a rightful claim, of true superiority, in the face of God.
Much history, and the separate development of doctrine, and the blood foolishly shed during those years, have pulled many divisions far apart. For this reason, practices and teachings often differ to such an extent that some may not be entirely comfortable in others' services, and vice versa. However, Jesus still prayed for our oneness, His blood still unifies us, and the same Holy Spirit works in all believers, whether we acknowledge it or not. He will take out of all of these churches, and bring us unto Him as One.
The late John Paul II of Rome, in the 1995 encyclical Ut unum sint ("That they may be one"), took the very large and commendable step of recognizing that some outside his organization are people of Christ and have manifested the Holy Spirit at times in ways his followers and their antecedents have not. The emphases on recognizing that Christ has one Body in spite of the doctrinal and historical divisions of human and not Godly intervention, and upon the practical recognition of our Christian unity through joining together in prayer with those in other fellowships, also appear to be exactly correct. Clearly, all communities of Christ should recognize the Spirit at work within us all. We should join our brethren in prayer. It is time to end the wars of the churches.
It is also clear that many sometimes violent disputes among people called Christian, are merely semantics: in other words, they are mere public arguments about words and their meanings, and demands of homage to favorite formulae and schools of thought. Invariably, all such are mere human word-battle: none are ever concerning that which the Lord has said. It is time for we who look to the Lord, to ask Him to give us the repentance, in order to love and forgive as broadly as He does, and to consider as principal and absolute only His Very Words as He quotes them for us within His Holy Scriptures.
And it is the same for matters of ceremony, church government, various purposes of this world, and other issues. We cannot be altogether true about anything, because to be altogether true is to be entirely without sin, and this is not an option as long as we remain in, and therefore somewhat subject to, our fallen fleshly vessels.
We suggest that it is only God who chooses which of His essential truths shall be revealed and available to any human being in this world. We suggest that it is only by deliberate act of God at any moment, that we can learn or know anything about Him. We suggest that as a result, we should discuss with each other beginning and ending at points of agreement, and should never focus upon points of disagreement.
And we pray the Lord for His gifts of peace, and joy, and love, and understanding, and renewal, and blessings of all kinds, but most of all that His will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.
Ian Johnson & Jonathan Brickman
The Simple Gospel (Good News), a one-page handout.
Friends of God, another handout.
Amigos con Dios, a handout in Spanish.
In the General
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Speaking in Unknown Tongues
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by Ian Johnson