St. Paul writes, 1 Corinthians 1:10 "Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment."Here we see that God wants no divisions, (i.e. denominations), God wants unity. BUT he wants it done His way, namely, that we "all speak the same thing", and that "we be perfectly joined together in the *same mind and in the same judgment*" It is not enough to have some of the same goals, and simply "agree to disagree", but God wishes us, and commands us, to be one in doctrine. That we speak the same thing, as opposed to mere organizational unity.
In today's pluralistic age, what Paul says seems outright laughable. "Be of the same mind and judgement", "speak the same thing" as one another. But if we believe the scriptures to be true, we must recognize that Doctrinal unity must go hand in hand with church fellowship.
Now, allow me to skip to St. John, chapter 10. Here we see that it is characteristic of Christ's church, the Shepherd's sheep, that they hear His voice, but flee the voice of the stranger:
NKJ John 10:4 "And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 "Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers."Only Jesus' word, His teaching (i.e. doctrine) has a place in the One, Holy Christian Church. But if someone brings another teaching, i.e. the voice of the stranger, and we must flee that teaching and those who bring it Only Jesus' teachings are to be heard. "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God. (1 Pet 4:11). I like the way the NRSV puts this
"Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God."The reason there are divisions in the Church is because some listen to voice of the stranger, to teachings contrary to the word of Christ. But if we flee the strangers, if we listen only to the voice of the Good Shepherd, as we are so commanded, then we will be one flock. Therefore Jesus says: "And they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, and one Shepherd."
The point must be made that our doctrine, our "Lutheran-ness" is not something which we must "shed" in order to bring unity to the Church. But in fact, confessing and teaching our doctrine will bring unity in God's way. We must speak the same thing: The Word of God. That is why, btw, that the Lutheran Confessions are called the "Book of *Concord*" They do not divide, but unite, bring concord, under Jesus' word.
One last point, Mr. P. was quite right when he said that we are not talking about being "unequally yoked together with unbelievers." It is true that 2 Cor. 6:14 does not directly apply to other Christians, but take a look at 1 Thess. 3:6:
NKJ 2 Thessalonians 3:6 But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.First of all, we note that we are to withdraw from every "brother", one who is a Christian. GWN actually translates it "from every Christian" which I think is quite right. We are to withdraw ourselves from other brother who "walks disorderly". I don't know where some translations get "idle", the NKJV is pretty good in translating "ataktos"-- The word means "not in it's right place, or unruly" The idea is of someone who is off doing his own thing, not in harmony with others. We are to withdraw from those Christians who "walk disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us." Here "tradition" simply refers to teachings, as some translations have it. (cf. 2 Thess. 2:15: "Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.")
Yours in Jesus, Who prays that the Church may be One.
Pr. Dan Woodring