James L. Denison
Boling, Texas

One of the essential elements for a successful church is unity. Throughout the Bible unity on the part of God's people is commanded, while division is condemned. Please read carefully I Cor. 1:10-16, 3:1-3, 12:25, Mat. 12:25, Jn. 17:20-21, Prov. 6:19.

When we consider for a moment the terrible effects produced in the Lord's body by division, we can better understand why the Lord is so severe in his denunciation of it. For example, suppose there is a given object, and on each side we put a truck, which pulls upon the object in a direction opposite to that of the other truck. What will happen? Obviously, unless we soon stop the trucks, the object will burst asunder. Also, suppose that each of your legs decided to go in a direction different to that of the other leg, what would happen to your body? Why, it would be split in twain! This is exactly what will happen to the church, the body of Christ, when two or more forces (factions) pull in opposite directions. Thus, the Lord condemns division.

There are a number of things that can cause division. For instance; chip carrying (Rom. 12:3), petty bickering (I Tim. 6:4), the seeking of preeminence (3 Jn. 9), false teaching (2 Pet. 2:1-2), backbiting (Rom. 1:30), and such like. All of these things we should seek to avoid, lest we be instrumental in causing division, and thus stand condemned before God.

BUT, God does not expect, desire, nor command unity at any price. God wants unity ONLY so long as it can be maintained upon New Testament principles. The Bible teaches us to disassociate ourselves from those who walk and teach contrary to the Gospel of Christ. Study carefully I Cor. 5, 2 Thes. 3:6, 1 Tim. 6:4-5, Gal. 1 :6-9, 2 Jn. 9-12, Rev. 18:4-5.

Therefore, if we are presented with a case where we must choose one of the following possibilities: (1) Accept teachings and practices contrary to New Testament principles in order to have unity, (2) Stand true to the teachings of the Bible so that at least a segment of the church will retain its ancient purity, though another segment goes into apostasy; we must choose the latter course, though division is the inevitable result. Also, we must remember that in such a case the producers of the division WERE NOT those who remained true to the Bible, but those who introduced unscriptural teachings and practices.

Yes, unity is to be sought, worked for, and desired, because no church can be successful without it. On the other hand, though we realize that division, regardless of the cause, is to be deplored, we must bear in mind that there is one thing worse than division, and that is complete unity upon that which is wrong, sinful, and/or unscriptural.

Truth Magazine II:2, p. 12
May 1958