The Church of ChristCan Christians be united in doctrine (teaching)? We are to strive to be united. Yet, must we be one teaching? We do not have to be united in opinion and inferences. Must this include doctrine?

Christ’s Spirit makes he plea for unity in doctrine in 1 Corinthians. First Corinthians 1:10 states,

Now I plead with you, brethren, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, so that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, and you be completely united in the same mind and in the same purpose.

Christ’s Spirit is speaking through the Apostle Paul pleading specifically with the Christians in Corinth and generally pleading “with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Cor. 1:2). Paul’s plea is not just for one congregation in Corinth, but for all Christians in every place to be united as seen later by Paul’s statement, “For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread” (1 Cor. 10:17).  Paul was in Ephesus and included himself within “we” among all Christians in Corinth and everywhere, who are one body and partake of one bread.

As Christians, we must be diligent to be joined together in the same mind and understanding, and we must also make these plea know to other Christians. We can and must speak the same things without divisions among us. Many churches and like-minded believers think contrary to Christ’s Spirit that Christians cannot be united in mind and purpose to the extent that 1 Corinthians teaches. Of course, they would believe this. They have their own contrary traditions, creeds, and opinions. For unity, we cannot have our own traditions, creeds, and opinions among differing churches. Only when our beliefs and practices are from Christ can we be joined together. Everyone in fellowship with Christ must be in fellowship with one another. We cannot be united in different teachings and all claim to have received them from Christ.

Many say that there can be no unity in doctrine. First Corinthians 1:10 shows how unity in doctrine is not easy, but it is commanded. Some scoff, “How can we be united with so many different interpretations?” Again, let Christ, His Spirit, and the Apostles interpret their own words, and then we’ll be one. Can Christ be divided? Does Jesus have different doctrines among different churches or is there one Christ with one truth in His one Church?  First Corinthians 1:11-13 says,

“For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, ‘I am of Paul,’ or ‘I am of Apollos,’ or ‘I am of Cephas,’ or ‘I am of Christ.’ Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

Here is the definition of a denomination, a division by name representing differing beliefs and practices. There are not supposed to be denominations. The Christians in Corinth erred in this area and were corrected for their factions and for erring in areas of doctrine. Paul did not cut them off for their errors, but corrected them, so we should do the same. Yet, Paul recognized that they were “of Christ” and that the Corinthian Christians were “babes” and even “carnal” (1 Cor. 3:1, 23). Their souls were endangered over divisions and doctrines and practices separate from Christ.

Some believers generally declare, “As long as, we are united in matters of salvation, then the other doctrines do not matter.” Yet, what are salvation doctrines? Does what Christ’s Spirit correct matter as doctrine? Can we observe teaching and practice church customs contrary to the teaching of the scriptures and expect to be saved? Can we add, annul and, or do contrary to the perfect completion of Christ’s words with His revelation to His Apostles and prophet? Certainly, opinions and inferences should not divide. Interpretations of history in regards to symbolic scriptures must not separate believers. Yet, we can and must be united in doctrine being joined together in the same mind and the same judgment speaking the same things. Let us further consider in the next part that specific doctrines matter. There is way for all Christians to be perfectly joined together. We can be united in doctrine and practice.