As we continue to explore the divisions in the church that adversely affect our unity, we come next to doctrinal divides. The divide between Catholic and Protestant doctrine is substantial. We visited some of that in part one. There are also several specific beliefs setting numerous Protestant churches at odds as well: What is the role of baptism? What is the proper method of baptism? Are we once saved, always saved, or can we lose our salvation?Are the sign gifts still in play or did they cease with the end of the apostolic era? Are only some predestined to be saved or whosoever accepts Christ, predestined to be saved? What is the role of men in the church? What is the role of women in the church? What is the role of Israel in the world and the end times? Will there be a rapture? Will there be a seven-year tribulation period? Do end time events matter in the present day life of the church? What is the role of human government? Where should we stand on life issues; on sexual issues; on money issues? I am sure I have left out more than a few other doctrinal disputes within the church. Even as important as all these are, is this the real divide in the church?
One of the most oft given examples of disunity in the church concerns Sunday mornings and the scattering of the faithful into their little corners of the kingdom. Those folks over yonder play loud music and dance all over the place. These people here worship very quietly and include liturgies. That church preaches in-your-face sermons. They have a worship band. They have a big choir. They only sing a cappella. They have altar calls. They raise their hands and shout, “Amen!” We certainly do see different worship styles across the church landscape. They do divide us, but is this the real divide in the church?
In the scripture above the Apostle Paul calls for unity in the church. The missionary at our church, the pastor/singer on the Internet (Part 1), they too call for unity in the church. After all, there is one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of all. There are reformation divides; interpretation divides, doctrinal divides, and worship style divides. In the light of all this division how can we ever attain unity? There are people on most sides of these divides that share an essential and foundational belief which unifies them. There are others on most sides of these divides that do not believe in that which is essential and foundational to the Christian faith. There is the real divide in the church!
We will look at that next time.