An Exchange on Unity in Diversity


     I am making the subsequent short exchange pertaining to unity in diversity available for your reading in order to display the real spirit and thinking of the Unity in Diversity Movement.  I have not provided the real names of the preachers in order to simply allow you to concentrate on what they are saying.  (Before reading the below, please be sure to read, "The Unity in Diversity Movement," click on to go there.)


Don Martin to Joe, John Smith and the list:


On December 29, John Smith made a post in which he apparently sought to effect a discussion on ... (name of list) pertaining to the unity-in-diversity movement within churches of Christ. I made a reply to John's good comments and then Joe replied to me. I shall briefly look at Joe's reply:

Joe wrote:

Joe to Don and/or John:

I know not who wrote the harangue against the straw man of "unity in diversity" so I will just address a few things that were said. It seems that John was with a church where members were mixed, some from more conservative backgrounds and some from more liberal backgrounds. He proceeded to tell us that the people there were in harmony (wow, actually practicing what Jesus wept and prayed for in John 17, amazing). Then a preacher comes in and delivers sermons that he "preaches" that disrupts the harmony. Who's to blame? It has to be the members wanting unity and harmony. This is the same old same old with those who "teach" disruptive lessons. Churches don't grow under this kind of leadership.

Don comments:

I believe Joe has his details mixed up in more ways than one. It was I not John who moved to work with a church that was an agreed on merger between institutional and non-institutional members of the church. There were two antithetical and opposing attitudes and views of the authority of the scriptures in place. The difference existed in a liberal and conservative view of the scriptures and their application. The liberal view did not want preaching that talked in detail about the work of the church, how to live as a Christian, divorce and remarriage, etc. Not only did some not want this kind of preaching, but they sought to control the pulpit by demanding that a number of biblical subjects be omitted. However, some of the so called conservative element were even worse. "We have agreed to co-exist, so do not rock the boat," they told me. This is the condition I mentioned in my post to which Joe alludes in the above.

Please carefully read Joe's comments again. Notice his attitude toward this unity-in-diversity situation. Joe said: "He proceeded to tell us that the people there were in harmony (wow, actually practicing what Jesus wept and prayed for in John 17, amazing)." No, Joe, the people were practicing hypocritical and political ecumenicalism, not that true unity for which Jesus prayed (Jn. 17: 20, 21). Paul commanded unity in belief and practice (I Cor. 1: 10, Eph. 4: 3 ff.).

Carefully analyze Joe's assessment:

"Then a preacher comes in and delivers sermons that he 'preaches' that disrupts the harmony. Who's to blame? It has to be the members wanting unity and harmony. This is the same old same old with those who "teach" disruptive lessons. Churches don't grow under this kind of leadership."

Isn't strange at the views relative to church growth. Joe believes elders telling two members of the opposite gender to cease spending the night together precludes church growth. Joe believes the truth being applicably preached prevents church growth. Notice how Joe uses such words as "unity" and "harmony." The people wanted political compromise! Joe serves as an example of the sinful unity-in-diversity mentality that is pervading among preachers, elders, and members in general.

Please allow me to anticipatorily inject the following: I did not make Joe say what he did in the above post. I offered sufficient information in my original post, from which Joe quotes, to offer a true picture of the circumstance being considered, a situation that I called sinful unity-in-diversity. To this circumstance Joe refers and justifies it, the people and their beliefs, and condemns the preacher (me, dm) for preaching the whole truth (Acts 20: 27). I have not attacked Joe personally but I have accurately quoted him. Also, I have not assigned sinister motives to Joe, but I have simply dealt with what he said.

Again, Joe is a good and classic example of the spirit of unity-in-diversity (as discussed under the theme, "unity-in-diversity"). Joe's attitudes and beliefs are now surfacing more and more in so called conservative churches of Christ. Instead of faithful preachers being expected to preach on such matters as true unity, it is being demanded that they back off and walk around the issues for the sake of "unity" and "harmony." Shame on these people and on the preachers who listen to them. In closing, please consider Jesus' teaching in Matthew 10:

     "34: Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 35: For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36: And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. 37: He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me."


Don Martin to the list:


I have noticed for many years that those who loyally teach the Jerusalem gospel are sometimes charged with sectarianism and advocating denominationalism. At first, I was in a quandary as to what these accusers meant. After I began to detect the presence of the spirit and thinking of unity-in-diversity, I began to understand the accusation.

Here is how it works: If you teach such texts as Matthew 10: 34-39, Ephesians 4: 3-6, and I Corinthians 1: 10, you are potentially, at least, causing division because you are exposing people who do not love the Lord and truth. As a result of your teaching, there will be physical divisions in families and sometimes in local churches. Hence, you are a divisive person who, as a result of your teaching, is advocating sectarianism (splits and groups that divide) and denominationalism (new spin off religions as a result of division).

These unity-in-diversity people either are not conversant with such verses as I Corinthians 11: 19 or they have rejected such teaching. Paul taught, "For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you." Hence, division, though sinful on the part of some, can be healthy. Paul's statement is especially of interest and pertinence in view of the spiritually divided state of the church at Corinth (I Cor. 1: 11, 11: 18).

One of the terrible consequences of the unity-in-diversity doctrine and practice is the matter of emphasis being placed on the secular: physically staying together under one roof at all expense, even the compromise of the truth. In order to maintain this physical unity, sensitive subjects must be shunned. Thus, the so called unity of unity-in-diversity is physical unity. The accent found in the New Testament in terms of unity, conversely, is on spiritual unity, believing and practicing the same doctrine (I Cor. 1: 10). Unity-in-diversity, then, is in sharp contrast with such teaching as Acts 20: 26, 27 where Paul said, "Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God."

The unity proposed by Joe in an earlier post is clearly that of political and physical unity. Steven called a church that was extremely diversified in doctrine and practice in "harmony" and "united." He charged the preacher who uncompromisingly preached the "whole counsel" as divisive and sectarian. This is the thinking of all true unity-in-diversity proponents. In closing, I submit that the spirit of unity-in-diversity (our version of ecumenicalism) is not only patently false, but it also stands in the way of true unity: God's people believing and practicing the same thing (Phili. 1: 27).


Don Martin to the list:


I learned a long time ago that to effectively teach, you must not only be a skilled exegete, but you must make proper application of the teaching. Therefore, I want to share with you an excerpt from my article in Bible Truths titled, "The 'Days' of Genesis 1" - a Review."

"...The recurring unity in diversity and the consequent call for compromise. Since 1984, when I first had an opportunity to work with a young man who was trained at Florida College until the present, I have attempted to trace the primary source of the spirit of compromise that is pervading the thinking of so many Christians and local churches. As an amateur historian, it has been my observation that the tidal wave of doctrinal concession too common today in non-institutional churches of Christ is originating at a common source - Florida College.  Of course, certainty, decisiveness, and strong conviction are not often associated with the world of academia. "Higher learning" says assemble all the relevant facts, make logical deductions, and then say "this view is probably correct, but we must not be dogmatic and exclusive!" (Cp. Jude 3 and Philippians 1: 7, 17.) Hear Ferrell Jenkins (Jenkins served as the head of the Bible Department at Florida College for many years) regarding the six days of creation and those who contend for the day-age position: "Must we decide? There are some respected scholars who have rejected these long ages. I wonder, do we have to decide on this? I mean is it an issue that we really have to say absolutely, we know absolutely that 'I know that this is the correct answer' out of these that are given here? Must we decide?" (pg. 5, paragraph 7). Ferrell continues by saying, "There are people like that (respected scholars.those who use biblically based arguments,'' dm) who have cautioned against dogmatism. They reject the long ages but they simply say that we can't be sure about this" (Ibid.).

In a self-admitted effort to promote doctrinal elasticity regarding the fanciful day-age teaching, Ferrell mentions the pre-Adamic race contention. In alluding to the pre-Adamic race view Ferrell writes, "Do you understand what I am saying? I'm saying there was some room for brethren to come up with possible ways that we could understand the problems with which we are faced in Genesis 1" (pg. 6, paragraph 7).

In his attempts to persuade brethren to be tolerant of others that teach the day-age and pre-Adamic race doctrines, Ferrell proceeds to teach the following:

"Is there a place in a congregation - and that's all that I can deal with - the congregation where I am a member. That is the only fellowship God gave me and my brethren any authority to withdraw from people, to exclude and include people.. Is there a place for two who strongly believe in creation but who hold differing views on the days of Genesis?." (pg. 8, paragraph 1). Now I think we run into a problem when we say 'must.' One of these views 'must' be correct" (pg. 8, paragraph 1).

Brother Jenkins does as so many do who promote the doctrine of unity in diversity, he emphasizes playing down our differences in such matters as the Genesis one days and urges us rather to focus on first principles and baptizing people. "Let's get busy trying to learn how to reach the lost," Ferrell appeals (pg. 9, paragraph 2).

The "signal" Florida College is sending (through Jenkins and others) is that sound biblical exegesis is not that important and that wild, fanciful, and speculative theorizing must be tolerated. How can Jenkins and others of his persuasion draw the line regarding the various extant false doctrines? If we must permit the specific false teaching mentioned in "The 'Days' of Genesis 1," why should not our doctrinal indulgence extend to other just as wild, fanciful, and speculative theories? The message of "The 'Days' of Genesis 1" is also not only must we abide erroneous doctrines that fly in the face of plain Bible teaching, but we are wrong if we oppose them! Therefore, I submit to you that "Florida College" is setting the stage for apostasy within non-institutional churches of Christ. The "bad guys" are not false teachers, but those who oppose, expose, and, all things equal and understood, exclude those who "bring not the doctrine of Christ" (2 Jn. 9-11). (Be sure to read my material, "The Six Days of Creation," click on to visit. For additional reading, please click on "Christianity Magazine, a Closer Look." Dee Bowman, who was one of the editors of Christianity Magazine, continues to play a significant role in the training of the young men for preachers at F.C., I understand. Also, check out "Strange Worries" by Andy Alexander. My most recent material on the days of creation and Florida College issue is, "An Analysis and Response to Caldwell, Scott, and Adams' Material in Truth Magazine," be sure to read it).


Don Martin to the list:


While I wait for Joe to answer my last post, I thought I would comment on Tony's post: Tony wrote:

"As for me I would rather stand in judgment as a rum runner, pimp, and a dope dealer than as a church splitter. An old Gospel preacher, who was well into his eighties at the time, and has been gone from this life now for twenty-five years once said, "Brother Tony, always remember that the issues over which you are willing to split the church are more important than the unity for which our Christ prayed."  I have never forgotten that advice, and a couple of times I have moved because I found some things that some brethren were teaching, regarding such things as orphan's homes, and eating in the church house, and things of that ilk, personally intolerable, but I left the church in tact."

Don comments:

It appears Tony is a true proponent of sinful unity-in-diversity, a human political teaching that openly and admittedly compromises the truths of God's word. While Tony believes in church supported orphan homes and kitchens, he would not preach on such. He moved rather than face what he considered to be erroneous teaching.

I have often wondered how any proponent of unscriptural unity-in-diversity could profess to even believe such verses as the following:

"As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine" (I Tim. 1: 3).

"But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus...If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work" (2 Tim. 2: 16, 17, 21).

     "For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake. This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith" (Tit. 1: 10, 11, 13).

     "For there must be also heresies (divisions, dm) among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you" (I Cor. 11: 19).

Physical division occurs (spiritual division already exists) when there are honest people who love and want the truth above all human ties and there are also people present who are selfish and relentlessly want whatever they desire. For example, when people within a local church demand a female member be appointed to the eldership, they should meet with strong opposition on the part of those who know and insist on the truth (elders are male only, I Tim. 3: 1 ff.). Those who know and respect the truth will not compromise the truth so the faction can appoint the woman to the eldership. Hence, the people leave and another church is divided. God's word endorses the preacher (and all members) who opposed the demands of the group. It is sad that Tony feels as he does. I suppose, though, he has as much trouble understanding me as I do him. Tony feels so strongly in favor of scripture compromise and sell out that he wrote thus regarding a preacher speaking the truth regardless: "I would rather stand in judgment as a rum runner, pimp, and a dope dealer than as a church splitter."

The truth of the matter is, we all, Tony, you and I, will stand before the regal Jesus in judgement (2 Cor. 5: 10). Tony will appear as a preacher who would not preach what he believed to be the truth in order to maintain his brand of unity and I will stand before Jesus as a man who attempted to preach the truth without favor in order to produce New Testament unity (Eph. 4: 3-6).