A humorous illustration, unless you are an “over the top” cat lover, showing the difference between union and unity is tying two cats’ tails together and throwing them over a clothes’ line. While they are in a state of union, they are certainly not unified! There are those who claim they are pursuing “unity” but in actuality mean “union”. Union does include a degree of unity; however, union includes accepting potentially many contradictory views overridden for some stated goal. Unity is a term with a greater and deeper degree of agreement, being of the same mind and action in purpose. For example, some argue they are “united” on a fundamental truth; e.g., belief in the deity of Christ, but can remain in a state of contradiction on other doctrines. This is not unity, but union. The Bible demands unity; which includes more than believing Jesus is the Son of God. Certainly the deity of Christ is fundamental for a Christian; however, it is not the only required belief in Christianity. This type of union contradicts the principle spoken of by the prophet Amos “Can two walk together unless they are agreed?”
The pursuit for unity requires effort, diligence and work. The restoration movement paints a clear picture of the fact that unity is desirable, obtainable and destructible. We learn from the restoration movement that unity can become fragile and even be broken when people allow their minds to be drawn away from the unifying body of knowledge that makes us one—the New Testament. Seeking True Unity points out a truth that, while painful, needs to be understood. When there are only two options--compromise or division over doctrine, division is better than compromise. The book includes this quote, ironically from a member of the Christian Church:
Unity is not always correct. Division is not always wrong. What is always correct is following the Word of God and doing the will of God. Perhaps we need more division from what is not of God, in order to be more united in the things of God…True Biblical unity calls for a division or separation from that which is not of God and harmful to itself, and then it seeks what is the best of God for others. (page 54).
The book Seeking True Unity is a concise presentation on unity. Six authors, an editor and the Horse Cave Church of Christ united in their efforts to this overview of what constitutes true unity. The book explains bible authority including one of the principles of authority that has been turned “on its head” to accommodate various innovations—the principle of silence. Those of the digression in the Restoration Movement erroneously claimed “silent” in the phrase “Let us speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent” meant their objectors must be silent. This is not the meaning of the slogan as used in the days of Thomas Campbell (and a reading of the Declaration and Address clearly shows this.) Being “silent where the Bible is silent” meant (and still means) refraining from the things the Bible does not authorize. If Bible authority is not found in commands, binding examples, or implications, then we should not do or teach that unauthorized practice or teaching; i.e., be silent in word and deed! The writers explain how the division over mechanical instruments in worship arose, how the division spread, and that we are facing the same threat today. It is imperative that we teach Christians this sad story of this division in order to avoid further division. This book is ideal for a newer Christian who is seeking to learn more about these issues without being overloaded with details that they may not be prepared for at their stage of development. It is ideal for classroom discussion, especially if the class has mature members who are able to contribute sage comments to help amplify the points that need to be made.
Originally printed in West Virginia Christian, Vol. 15, No. 9, September 2008, p. 8. Reprinted by permission.