Union or Unity

            As word of the new Pope spread around the world, the news media broadcast the hopes and concerns of people from around the world. Those who belong to Catholicism seemed wonderfully pleased, thinking this would be the man who could reunite the Catholic church.

I listened as one local news analyst presented his view. This man spoke of a recent study that showed that Christianity had lost tremendous numbers in membership, especially in the United States. He proposed that the primary reason for the decline was apathy toward organized religion. He further claimed that the apathy was generated as a result of denominations fighting among themselves. His answer to strengthen Christianity was for all denominations to stop fighting and just unite. This concept is not new even though those who accept it think that it is ground-breaking.

On October 31, 1796 Walter Scott was born in Moffat, Scotland into a very strict Presbyterian family. Having completed his formal education at the Edinburg University, Scott moved to America. He soon moved to the Midwest where Walter worked at a boy’s academy with George Forrester. Mr. Forrester was a Presbyterian who had broken with their orthodox views and had become a leader of a small church that used the Bible as its only guide.

Scott read a book, Reasonableness of Christianity, which stated, “A study of the New Testament will disclose that the essential article of faith is the acknowledgement of Christ as Messiah.” From this thought came the “Golden Oracle” for which Scott is famous: Jesus is the Christ. Also, after studying New Testament Greek he realized the fallacy of baptism by proxy and was then immersed. Scott resolved to preach the same gospel preached by the apostles and to preach it in the same way; many obeyed the gospel.

In 1844 the Catholic church vowed to convert America, which Scott took as a personal challenge. To defeat the assault by Catholicism he concluded that all Protestants must unite. While on the Western Reserve Scott had denounced denominational errors but was now asking the brotherhood to forego all that teaching, thus implying that the first century gospel could not defeat religious error. His solution was found in the “golden oracle”- the common belief must be that Jesus is the Son of God; all other differences would be relegated to the realm of private judgment. In fighting this battle, Scott had given up the faith.

Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge (Romans 10:1-2).

Zeal without knowledge was not acceptable by God in the first century, the nineteenth century or the twenty-first century. The word of God is all sufficient and never changing. The gospel that saved in the first century is the only gospel that will save. Let us go forth and speak the truth of God in love (Ephesians 4:15).

                                                                                                          Tim

 

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