What is religious unity? Many would say that the essence of “religious unity” is “agreeing to disagree,” or getting along despite your differences. Well, God is certainly a proponent of “getting along” despite differences (cf. Rom. 12:18); but He is NOT a proponent of “agreeing to disagree” in matters of religion.
In The Test of a Church we glanced at 1 Corinthians 1:10, but let us look again a little more closely:
“Now I beseech you, brethren, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all SPEAK THE SAME THING, and that there be NO DIVISIONS among you; but that you be PERFECTED TOGETHER in the SAME MIND and in the SAME JUDGMENT.”
Here, then, is God’s five-point checklist for religious unity:
1. ALL SPEAK THE SAME THING
2. NO DIVISIONS
3. PERFECTED TOGETHER
4. SAME MIND
5. SAME JUDGMENT
In short, true religious unity is not “getting along” despite differences in doctrine; the single most important element of true religious unity is doctrinal unity. Aye, that dirty old “four letter word”—“doctrine.” Where there is not doctrinal unity, there can be no religious unity—nor should there be! The same apostle that commands Christians to have absolute doctrinal unity also commands Christians to “withdraw from” and have “no company with” any “Christian” who is NOT in conformity with the doctrine of the NT (2 Thess. 3:6,14)—i.e., those who do not “continue steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching…” (cf. Acts 2:42)!
No one has ever, nor will anyone ever be, accepted by God in spite of his doctrine; for God—through the teaching of His Son and His apostles (Matt. 28:18; Heb. 1:1,2; John 17:20)—has given us HIS doctrine, and only those who “continue steadfastly” in HIS doctrine are pleasing and acceptable to Him (2 John 9). Read it; study it; know it—for by it we will all be judged (John 12:48; cf. 1 Cor. 14:37).