the Church on the Hill
by G. Eric Williams
Opponents of Christianity regularly cite the division of the Church into denominations and sects as proof of the speciousness of the Christian religion. They say that if Christianity were in fact the only true belief, then there would not be so many different points of view within the Faith. Yet, this argument against the Church is quite wrongheaded. It's like saying that Smith's extended family isn't really family because each household is so different.
Smith himself always votes Libertarian and he is adamantly opposed to the government education monopoly. Smith's brother is a dyed in the wool Republican and he thinks that the national educational system is just fine. Smith's second cousin never votes, lives in the woods under a log and believes that his children are best served learning how to live off
the land than waste away in the state institutional system. At the same time each member of Smith's extended family looks with respect to old Great Granddaddy Smith, the founder of the clan. Like their patriarch, Smiths of every variety love their country their families and fine cigars. Indeed, these are the marks of the Smith clan. Certainly there are differences of opinion - and not everyone can be right. Nevertheless, every Smith everywhere agrees with the foundational truths that make them really and truly a Smith.
This is how it is in the Church. There is a great diversity of opinion but everyone who is part of the Christian religion holds to certain foundational truths. Hence we all say: "I believe in God, the Father Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord: Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into Hades. The third day He arose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting." If you cannot assent to these central truths, then you cannot call yourself a Christian.
They say that blood is thicker than water but in the Church both water and blood are thick. We are all washed by the blood of Jesus and baptized into the same body. We are all blood descendents of Abraham in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:29), and we are all bound by the same covenant oath in baptism. Some of us may believe that Church polity should be congregational; others hold to a presbyterian or episcopal point of view. Some believe that Lord's Day worship must follow certain systematic norms. Other's reject anything even remotely resembling high church liturgy. Some Believers think tobacco and alcohol are better seen as the devil's weed and demon's rum. Others think that moderation and the giving of thanks are the key issues. Yet as long we hold fast to the foundational truths of the Faith we are all part of the same family of God.
The world and Satan would like nothing better than to divide and conquer the Church. Ultimately it will never happen. The Bible assures us that the Church, the Bride of Christ, will stand forever. Nonetheless, to the degree that we allow ourselves to focus on our differences we will be hindered in the work of the kingdom. Divided we are weak and ineffective. United we are strong in the strength of the Lord. We don't need to give up our distinguishing characteristics in order to work together. We do need to remember that in the final analysis we all belong to God, not a denomination.