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,
and not in divisive behavior, that those outside Him can
truly see that God loves and sent the Lord for we who do not
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 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 unnecessary 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 are not parts of 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; we wish to be defined by our love of brother and neighbor, as the Lord has commanded. 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, but 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 divisions violently apart. For this reason, practices and teachings often differ to such an extent that we might 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, regardless of whether we acknowledge it.
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 of the disputes which have for centuries motivated people called Christian to distrust, hate and kill each other, are primarily semantic. That is, many disagreements concern whether one set or another of words is The Truth whose homage is to be demanded of all. But invariably, both are mere sets of human words not Scripture, neither is ever simply and purely that which the Lord has said. It is time for we who look to the Lord, to ask Him to give us the repentance 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, worldly politics, 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 what of His essential truths shall be revealed 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
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