While the concept of unity is appealing in many ways, in practice it is challenging. In Psalms 133, David proclaims “how good and pleasant it is when we dwell together in unity!” While this makes common sense, why is unity so elusive? Instead of banding together, our tendency is to become more isolated and independent. What compels us to isolate ourselves through division? While this question deserves a robust response, it is far simpler to be self-sufficient. Becoming fully autonomous doesn’t require accountability or compromise or collaboration—just do what you think is right.

There have been many attempts to unify the body of Christ, most notably was the Ecumenical Movement started in the 1920’s. Many leaders dedicated their ministries to reversing centuries of division with little or no lasting results. More recently, a proposal like the Nicene Creed was produced in 2009 called the Manhattan Declaration (Chuck Colson et al) as a catalyst for reunification. While this document appeared to reflect core biblical values and principles, notable Christian theologians refused to endorse it for seemingly obscure reasons. It’s hard to understand how we can justify this position. It seems obvious that we are “better together” than defending our own interpretations of scripture.

I believe that the “unity cause” has so much baggage that we must change our approach. Conflating unity with agreement seems to be a lost cause. It is much easier to simply partner with similar groups or cooperate towards a common cause or share resources based on need. Doctrinal agreement is important, but it is not mandatory to simply band together. Most of what we consider to be “doctrine” is just tradition or culture, or preferences—not justification for division. It’s true—we are much better together.

While it would be easier to address division from the top down, this approach has lacked incentive from its stakeholders. It may be necessary to shift through a grassroots initiative. Unity is hard, but it is worth it. If we are unified, there is nothing we cannot accomplish.

Receive the latest news in your email
More articles