Restoring True Unity with Doctrinal Fidelity

John ArmstrongMissional Church, Missional-Ecumenism, Theology, Unity of the Church

The normal way debates about Christian unity proceed is along the lines of fairly traditional binary, left and right, models. One side says we must preserve doctrinal fidelity or we will lose the core teaching of the faith. The other side argues that without unity we stand in opposition to the very truth that the earliest Christians confessed.

My question is simple: Why must we chose one side or the other. Is this an either/or question or rather a both/and one? I think it is the latter. We need a strong, clear doctrinal basis for our conversation and fellowship to remain rooted in the ancient faith that was handed down to Christians through the centuries. The earliest creeds provide this for us. We also need a deep and growing commitment to seek relational unity in every way possible. The two are not opposites but mutually complimentary truths. What we should pursue is “unity within reconciled diversity.” This means we will not be able to join in the same communion, at least not yet in some contexts, but it means we can respect and esteem others in the Christian family who have so much to teach us about how they understand the faith and practice it. For this reason all good theology will become ecumenical theology. By listening to others and learning from them I listen to what the Spirit is saying to the whole catholic church.