Calvin, who saw that the Devil's chief device was disunity and division and who
preached that there should be friendly fellowship for all ministers of Christ, made a
similar point in a letter to a trusted colleague: "Among Christians there ought to be
so great a dislike of schism, as that they may always avoid it so fast as lies in their
power. That there ought to prevail among them such a reverence for the ministry of the
word and the sacraments that wherever they perceive these things to be, there they must
consider the church to exist...nor need it be of any hindrance that some points of
doctrine are not quite so pure, seeing that there is scarcely any church which has not
retained some remnants of former ignorance."
Charles W. Colson, The Body, 1992, Word
Publishing, pp. 107-108.
During World War II, Hitler commanded all religious groups to unite so that he could
control them. Among the Brethren assemblies, half complied and half refused. Those who
went along with the order had a much easier time. Those who did not, faced harsh
persecution. In almost every family of those who resisted, someone died in a concentration
camp. When the war was over, feelings of bitterness ran deep between the groups and there
was much tension. Finally they decided that the situation had to be healed. Leaders from
each group met at a quiet retreat. For several days, each person spent time in prayer,
examining his own heart in the light of Christ's commands. Then they came together.
Francis Schaeffer, who told of the incident, asked a friend who was there, "What did
you do then?" "We were just one," he replied. As they confessed their
hostility and bitterness to God and yielded to His control, the Holy Spirit created a
spirit of unity among them. Love filled their hearts and dissolved their hatred. When love
prevails among believers, especially in times of strong disagreement, it presents to the
world an indisputable mark of a true follower of Jesus Christ.
Our Daily Bread, October 4,
Being much concerned about the rise of denominations in the church, John Wesley tells
of a dream he had. In the dream, he was ushered to the gates of Hell. There he asked,
"Are there any Presbyterians here?" "Yes!", came the answer. Then he
asked, "Are there any Baptists? Any Episcopalians? Any Methodists?" The answer
was Yes! each time. Much distressed, Wesley was then ushered to the gates of Heaven. There
he asked the same question, and the answer was No! "No?" To this, Wesley asked,
"Who then is inside?" The answer came back, "There are only Christians
here." (1 Corinthians 1:10-17)
Charles Wesley wrote some of his hymns to promote his brother John's doctrine of entire
sanctification. The second verse of his "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling" asks
God to "take away our bent to sinning." This was too much for Calvinist Augustus
Toplady. In a magazine of which he was editor, Toplady wrote an article in refutation,
detailing a picture of man's potential for sinning. He arrived at the mathematical
conclusion that a man of eighty is guilty of many millions of sins, a debt he can never
hope to pay but for which he need not despair because of the sufficiency of Christ. He
closed the article with an original poem. "A Living and Dying Prayer for the Holiest
believer in the World." This poem, now one of the most beloved hymns of all time, and
know under the title, "Rock of Ages," was born out of party spirit
John Gilman, The Evolution of the English Hymn, Macmillan, 1927, pp.
It is said that when the British and French were fighting in Canada in the 1750s,
Admiral Phipps, commander of the British fleet, was told to anchor outside Quebec. He was
given orders to wait for the British land forces to arrive, then support them when they
attacked the city. Phipps' navy arrived early. As the admiral waited, he became annoyed by
the statues of the saints that adorned the towers of a nearby cathedral, so he commanded
his men to shoot at them with the ships' cannons. No one knows how many rounds were fired
or how many statues were knocked out, but when the land forces arrived and the signal was
given to attack, the admiral was of no help. He had used up all his ammunition shooting at
Daily Bread, October 6.
An issue of National Geographic included a photograph of the fossil remains of two
saber-tooth cats locked in combat. To quote the article: "One had bitten deep into
the leg bone of the other, a thrust that trapped both in a common fate. The cause of the
death of the two cats is as clear as the causes of the extinction of their species are
obvious. When Christians fight each other, everybody loses. As Paul put it, "if you
keep biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each
other" (Galations 5:15)
Peter A. Alwinson.
Statistics and Stuff
But what does he (Paul) wish them to learn? That no one be puffed up for his own
teacher against another, that is, that they be not lifted up with pride on account of
their teachers, and do not abuse their names for the purpose of forming parties, and
rending the Church asunder. Observe, too, that pride or haughtiness is the cause and
commencement of all contentions, when every one, assuming to himself more than he is
entitled to do, is eager to have other in subjection to him.
John Calvin, Calvin's Commentaries, Vol XX, Baker, 1979, p. 158.