You're Picking Churches Wrong

If you pick a church based on how much you agree with what they believe, you're contributing to the disunity of the body of Christ.

Unless you're some sort of emergent, post-modern, Unitarian, you would probably say the opposite: that doctrine is the most important thing to consider when choosing a church. And it's true that the Christian needs to be on guard against heresy. But it's also true that most of what many Christians call heresy, isn't actually heresy. So it follows that most of what many Christians call orthodoxy, isn't actually orthodoxy. And this means that orthodoxy is the biggest obstacle to unity.

You may think that your present church is an exception, but if everyone is in agreement with one another on the essentials and generally gets along, then it's not. Why? Because unity at the local level doesn't represent unity at the global level.

World Council of Churches
Does your church partner with others of different denominations? Do you or other members of your church occasionally poke fun at other denominations for their "silly" beliefs? Have you ever spoken to someone about Christ and offered to help them find a "good" church near them--one that happened to belong to the same denomination as yours?

It's really hard to say that the church is unified when it's divided into so many sects that won't have anything to do with each other. But that's because most Christians suffer from an immodest orthodoxy and a misguided understanding of unity.

A modest orthodoxy is a submissive one. It considers its own beliefs within the context of the global and historical church. For example, every denomination has a list of what is essential and what is not. But unless it's essential to salvation, it's a conviction, not a doctrine. Thus, an immodest orthodoxy is one that contains convictions (like baptism or free will), not purely doctrines (like faith alone or Christ's deity). More importantly, it is one that thinks of its own peculiarities higher than the entire history of Christian confession.

As important as it is to unity, the reason for submission is why it is so frequently misunderstood. For many denominations, submission means conformity. Members are expected to take classes that get them to sign their name to a statement of immodest orthodoxy--a statement of doctrine with superfluous convictions sprinkled in.

But unity is not homogeneity; unity is diversity bound by love. Unity is as much about disagreement as it is agreement. Why? Because we're all different and God interacts with all of us accordingly. And the more we're confronted by the dissimilar experiences of others, the less likely we are to believe that our experience is universal and right.

Orthodoxy exists to unify the historical confession of the many, not to fence in the convictions of the few. And not only are convictions a poor test of fellowship, they only serve to illustrate that God is so much bigger than any one group of like-minded people. So the next time you're in the market and someone says, "Don't forget, you'll never find the perfect church!", remind them that this includes finding the perfect doctrinal statement.

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