Unity in Diversity

On Paul’s third missionary journey, Paul wrote to the church in Corinth during his stay in Ephesus, “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10). The household of Chloe had declared to Paul that many diversities existed in the church which had caused contentions and divisions, as diversities typically do. Paul’s response from God’s inspiration was that they “not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another” (1 Cor. 4:6). When the Christians started to take liberties with interpretations and ignore the complete picture and context of God’s Word, error was inevitable.

In the modern world of Christianity, a most treacherous doctrine has arisen from going above and beyond what is written, the doctrine of ‘Unity in Diversity.’ The name should be self-explanatory. One can have unity and fellowship with any believer in Christ regardless of doctrinal, organizational, or authority differences. One of the most read-after advocates who popularizes the doctrine, W. Carl Ketcherside, writes that there can be no unity of Spirit except through unity in diversity “since any other would demand a surrender of liberty” (Ketcherside, “Unity in Diversity” Mission Messenger (1961), p. 1). Many other advocates such as Mike Cope, Rubal Shelley, and Randall J. Harris all teach that being “perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10) is not possible without a tolerance for diversity of biblical interpretation. If unity within diversity is the only kind of unity that is possible among free-thinking people, then why did God demand of believers something they could not do?

The very idea of unity in diversity is self-contradictory. If there exist unity in doctrine, there is no diversity (1 Cor. 1:10), and if there is diversity of error, there is no unity (vs. 11-13). Paul’s exchange with Corinth teaches such concepts to be true and obvious. God knows the mind of humanity better than any theologian, psychologist, or philosopher, and God does not demand the impossible (1 Cor. 10:13). God commands that His followers be “perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” within the boundaries of the Law of Christ (1 Cor. 1:10; 4:6). Paul, likewise, writes through inspiration, “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Eph. 4:4-6). God requires that Christians be perfectly united through the “body,” unified in organization, through the “Spirit,” unified in revelation, through “hope,” unified in aspiration, through the “Lord,” unified in authority, through “faith,” unified in doctrine, through “baptism,” unified in practices, and through “God,” unified in worship. God does not outline the concepts and boundaries of how Christians are to be united and then tell Christians to interpret how they please (2 Peter 1:20)! The teaching that believers can be united within their diverse doctrines, practices, and organizations is not only self-contradictory (i.e. impossible) but it is contrary to what God commands. God commands that Christians “come out from among them [the infidels], and be ye separate, saith the Lord” (2 Cor. 6:17). God wants the Christian, the church to stand out in a world of immorality, not blend in with the crowd. The concept of unity in diversity cannot be found in the Word of God!

Everyone possesses the ability and knowledge to overcome diversity in doctrine by holding true to the central tenets of Christianity. Speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent (1 Peter 4:11; Num. 24:13). Study personally and compare what has been taught with what the Bible says (1 Tim. 4:13-16; 2 Tim. 2:15; Acts 17:11). Put aside pride, vanity, and prejudice and accept what is actually written in the Bible, not what people want to be in the Bible or popular interpretations (Rom. 12:3; Gal. 6:3; Prov. 3:7; 12:15). Meditate in the Word and find joy in the truth (1 Tim. 4:13; Ps. 1:3; Eph. 4:15; Phil. 4:8,9). The process sounds simple, but in application the process requires a diligent and strong individual.

Leave a Comment