Many denominational churches seek unity beyond the restrictions of their particular rules of faith. This kind of unity has resulted in one that clearly tolerates sin. This is very similar to the kind of unity some brethren have called for today in the churches of Christ. Hence, it is helpful to compare some of the things going on in the religious world with what is happening among us.
Receiving Sinful People
Brethren among us can be found who condemn the false teaching of a given brother on marriage, divorce and remarriage, but still will have that same brother in for a gospel meeting, or they will advocate fellowshipping with him in spite of his error (Rom. 16:17-18 f; 2 John 9-11). These same brethren will condemn homosexuality, and we are all thankful that they will not fellowship homosexuals. However, how long will it be before one of our brethren does in the realm of homosexuality what others among us are doing in the realm of adultery?
Failure to Preach on Differences
One cannot help but note the reticence on the part of some among us to openly and specifically condemn error (Eph. 5:11). Once you embark on the road of tolerating those in error you will either stop it, or you will get to a point where you say goodbye to any teaching which would condemn the error you are tolerating (Acts 20:27 f; 2 Tim. 4:2-3). Sadly, some churches of Christ have already come to the point where they no longer preach on differences which clearly involve adultery, a sin which will send souls to hell (1 Cor. 6:9-11). Perhaps this is why most churches of Christ condone women teaching children when the church is assembled, and allowing them to speak up in bible classes; And at least in one place are having women preachers. They all want more members and to be unified. Unified, but at what cost?
Finding a Broader Basis for Unity
When one seeks man made unity, he will have to use something other than the Bible as his basis. The rule of faith of the Lord’s church (the New Testament) is not broad enough to allow the kind of unity some have argued for today (Matt. 28:20). Hence, we should not be surprised when we hear of brethren using honesty and sincerity as a basis for receiving an erring brother, saying that there are different levels of truth, some essential and some not so much so. More such bases may be in store for us in the future. When someone seeks a broader unity than the Bible allows, he must find a broader basis than the Bible. In other words, they must change the word of God in order to appease all those seeking unity at any cost.
Conclusion: The Bible instructs us clearly on the three points discussed herein. It tells us how to treat those in sin (Gal. 6:1 ff; Jas. 5:19-20; 1 Thess. 5:14; 2 Thess. 3:6-15; 2 John 9-11). We are taught to preach the word “in season and out of season” (2 Tim. 4:2-3). We are to let the word of God be the sole basis for unity with others (John 17:20-21 f; 1 Pet. 4:11).
Denominations have taught us that when we appease error, we just get deeper in the mire. When Catholics appease Muslims, what do you get? When Baptist appease Mormons, what do you get? When the churches of Christ appease any denomination, what do you get? Unity? Perhaps, but unity at what cost? Such unity is in error of God’s Word. The unity Paul spoke of has all speaking the same thing. (1 Cor 1:10) As Peter said, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles (very breath or words) of God. (1 Pet 4:11) Unity in truth is what we all should be seeking, and the only kind of unity approved of by God. (Jn 17:17)