Rev. Austin Miles, a chaplain in Northern California is a writer and historian. He is the author of Santa's Surprising Origins, a story that received worldwide circulation and resulted in him being cast in the 2004 Hallmark Christmas Movie titled, Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus. He played the mall Santa who magically received the gift of sign language.

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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Religion • Unity In The Church Not Easy To Find

Unity is a challenging issue for Christian churches, since they haven’t been able to agree on one single thing since their founding 2000 years ago. Indeed, it wasn’t that long in the space of history from its inception that the original church split into two factions, Catholic and Orthodox and from there, off it went. It could all have been prevented if “called ministers of God” would honor God and His Word as true and the ultimate authority, instead of trying to shape it all in their image to please the itching ears of their congregations….

Squabbles over doctrine, methods of baptism, which day is the Sabbath Day, the gifts of The Holy Spirit, the elements of Communion (is it symbolic or do the elements really become the blood and body of Christ?), sacred music vs.slam-bang modern choruses, Calvinism, The Trinity…length of hair and makeup has all resulted in heated debate over the centuries as new denominations were constantly appearing on the scene with their own particular take on The Holy Scriptures.
 
Churches base their doctrine on specific Scriptures, like the 7th Day Adventists whose main doctrine is when to celebrate the Sabbath….the strange snake handling cults that base their message on, “...and they shall pick up serpents (without harm), ” Mark 16:18, and certain holiness churches that believe anything that is not worshipping God is sin…the list goes on and on.

Then there is the more subtle doctrinal differences between mainline churches like the Presbyterian, Lutheran, Episcopal, Methodist and Pentecostals (that nobody has yet really figured out).  Many others are out there including Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s Church of Christ that preaches against America. God help us.

In September of 2009, a group of prominent religious leaders from different denominations, including Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical churches came together (which in itself meets the criterion of a miracle) to call the churches of America to get back to their roots with God, the Bible and to preach The Gospel without compromise.

Curiously, they called their agreement the Manhattan Declaration, which puts in mind, The Manhattan Project. The explosions that erupted over the proposed document among churches in America does show a possible connection.

Yep, aside from the ones who signed the document, other preachers refused to be in unity over unity!!  Several main line Christian organizations, to our surprise, refused to sign it. There were many attacks against the document, with one being, “We can never be in unity with Catholics, they are not really Christian.”  How’s that again?

What does it require to be a Christian? Paul explained it plainly when he said to the Philippian Jailer, when learning that Paul and Silas had not escaped when they had the opportunity to do so, cried out, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Paul answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved and thy house.”  Acts: 16-30-31. It is very direct and simple..

This writer does not know one Catholic who does not believe in Jesus Christ. Though our doctrines may differ, every Catholic is indeed a brother and sister in Christ. Then there’s been the hooroar between the Catholics and the Orthodox, even though there are now efforts to reconcile those differences as they join together in unity with The Manhattan Declaration.

The purpose of the document is to call our pastors and churches to go back to preaching the uncompromised Word of God, period. We all need to reaffirm our calling and to preach the Gospel without “political correctess,” which means, leaving out all parts of The Bible about sin. The churches job is NOT to make people feel better about their sinning!  It is to see them delivered from sin.

This writer who signed the document, was overjoyed that pastors were indeed using their influence to call our pastors and churches back to their roots. So far, 370,000 pastors have signed the document. Praise God!  That means that there are 370,000 pastors in unity, Hopefully those who have not yet signed it will rethink the whole purpose of the church and get back on board. Then, the church will regain its moral authority and the entire world will benefit. The first place to start is getting ourselves in unity with God.

   
   
 

 

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