In 2008, Reuters disseminated photographs of a previously undiscovered tribe of Amazon Indians that had been pushed deeper into the jungle by encroaching civilizations.
Here was a tiny throng of human beings of which the world was mostly unaware and which was itself unaware of the world at large.
While their case is an extreme one, there was a time in the not-so-distant past that many people lived their entire lives with little personal awareness of the other side of the globe – and sometimes of the other side of the country. Airplanes, television and the internet have conspired to change that – mostly for the good – and that sort of provincialism has faded into the ether for all but the heartiest of tribes.
Continue reading » No Other Name: Christian Exclusivism in an Pluralistic World
A “red flag” of warning should arise every time we hear some call for “unity in diversity.” Some have even said that the “only kind of unity is unity in diversity.” We need to be very sure we understand what this catch-phrase really means and how it is used.
It is understood that a local congregation is filled with people at different levels of faith and maturity. Some will be babes in Christ, newly converted and needing to learn a lot about New Testament Christianity. Some will be farther along the path to maturity, but still unsure about some doctrinal matters and personal issues. Some will be “perfect” (mature, full-grown, Ephesians 4:13), Christians who have a settled faith and manner of life. Among these members, there will be matters of personal opinion and personal judgment that differ from Christian to Christian. The Bible recognizes this fact and addresses it in Romans 14-15. In the apostolic days, Jewish and Gentile Christians (who came from different backgrounds) had areas of differences in applying their common faith. It should be noted that the differences were sharp and contentious, capable of dividing congregations. The word of God provides the solution to this problem.
Continue reading » Associate Editorial: Unity In Diversity
Watching Silently as the Wolves Devour the Sheep
I have had the very painful experience of reading fellowship withdrawal announcements concerning people whom I had baptized just a year or so before. While nothing compares to the exultation of watching a precious soul being washed in the blood of his Savior, few things are more agonizing than witnessing him return to the mire and slavery of sin (2 Peter 2:22; Rom. 6:16).
Religious fellowship is a condition of life that the sectarian world has co-opted and redefined. To them, it now means fun, food and frolic. But to the child of God, fellowship is spiritual and has an unrivaled sweetness to it that can not be so cheapened. It allows brethren to walk together in unity of blessing and purpose (Psalm 133:1, Gal. 2:9). It encourages the support of evangelism (Phil. 4:15) and the sharing of both joy and pain (Gal. 6:1-2 and 1 Cor. 12:26). Fellowship is not confined to a single room or event but transcends space and time to connect those of like faith wherever they are and at all times (2 Peter 1:1 and 1 Thess. 4:9-10).
Clearly, the extension of fellowship is joyous, while the severance or impossibility of fellowship is filled with sorrow. Dissatisfaction with this separation in the sectarian world has given rise to the ecumenical movement that ignores a mountain of doctrinal differences in the pursuit of a supposed peace. Continue reading » We Need Watchmen Because of Unity in Diversity