Unity is crucial for the church. In the second-century A.D., bishops like Irenaeus and Tertullian frequently mentioned the unity of all the churches in central doctrines and objectives. Sadly, the church grew corrupt and led to the Reformation and additional splits. Denominations are in the thousands. Christians have grown apart and focused more on that which divides us than unites us. The world knows what Christians are against, but do they know what we support? I will explain the experiences in my own life and how Christians should be united as just “Christians” rather than “Methodists,” “Lutherans,” “Catholics,” “Baptists,” and so forth. If a Christian belongs to such denominations, I am not contending they should abandon their denominational title completely. Instead, I assert the name “Christian” is far more important and is what should be promulgated to the world.
I was raised in a Church of Christ. I can recall examples of denominational debates such as disputes with Baptists on whether baptism is necessary for salvation. But thankfully, I was not exposed to many denominational disputes. What I remember is only what a “Christian” believes. Today, I do not identify myself under a denomination. When people ask what I am, I only reply “Christian.” I have no qualms with those raised in denominational churches that desire to still label themselves “Baptist” or “Presbyterian.” But such labels should always be subsidiary to “Christian,” for “Christian” is what unites all of us in the same beliefs. The most important belief for a “Christian” is this: Jesus was the Christ and Lord who died for our sins, bodily resurrected later, was elevated to sit at the right hand of God, and is the only person who can save and reconcile sinners to God. Of course, such loaded terms as “Christ” imply additional, presupposed beliefs. But that doctrine most clearly defines a “Christian.”
Hence, Christians should not separate. Not only does division lead to conflict in the church, division permits the negative image society observes in the church. I claim this not to argue the beliefs which divide Christians are not important. I have no issue when debating the doctrine of predestination, for instance, with other Christians. But the Christian mission to spread the Gospel to the world entails a unified message. The world needs to know Christians possess a unified mission and belief which demonstrates why we are, indeed, the family or “body” of Christ. So I urge all fellow believers to leave the debates over baptism, predestination, biblical infallibility, papal infallibility, and every subsidiary concern to respectful discussions within the churches. But for those who are not “Christian,” I ask you to forget our differences and concentrate on what unites us. As Jesus wisely stated, “A house divided cannot stand” (Mark 3:25)