Theology

Unity Is Fundamental

One of the quickest ways to morph into a “fire-breathing, hard-nosed, black-and-white, reactionary Christian fundamentalist” is to listen to any diatribe that downplays Christian unity. Why? I believe that when one downplays unity, in essence, he diminishes the full orb of the Gospel and attacks the very character of God.Faith in the Gospel becomes the very hinge to a door that allows one to escape the outside, hateful, cold, contentious, racist, dark world and to step into a brand-new environment of musical harmony where love for God and one another envelops us like the summer sun.

Carefully note this. It is not we who have the strength or skill to create unity. The simple word one is repeated seven times and sourced among the three Persons of the Trinity in Ephesians 4:4-6. To imagine that the phrases in these three verses reflect the work of man is nothing short of complete delusion. Unity among men is exclusively the Spirit’s genius.

But we must fiercely protect that which the Holy Spirit produces. We should preserve the unity; and pastors are among the gifts from the “One Lord,” the great Giver (Ps. 68) to the “one body” to be instruments in the “perfecting of the saints… . till we all come in the unity of the faith” (Eph. 4:12-13a).

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Rise, Take Up Your Bed, and Walk

Two Views on the Depravity of Man

Our views of election, predestination, and the sovereignty of God in salvation in many ways develop from our beliefs of the depravity of man. What we believe about the true nature of unsaved man ends up shaping much of our other views in soteriology. Even our notions regarding the love and justice of God in election hinge on what we believe an unconverted person is capable (or not capable) of doing. Man’s depravity is all too often dismissed or left for last when, in fact, it ought to be the starting point in the discussion.

The Bible has much to say on the nature of man that in many ways organizes the debate into two groups. Views on effectual or synergistic grace, limited, or unlimited atonement; and conditional or unconditional election naturally develop. Understanding the biblical view of the natural man’s spiritual capabilities goes a long way to clearly drawing the lines of the debate.

We could divide the debate into two camps: what we might call the Augustinian view of man’s depravity and the non-Augustinian view of man’s depravity. The purpose of this article is not to evaluate the views but to describe each of them and the views on God’s sovereignty in salvation that necessarily emerge from them.

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I Saw Visions of God

Discuss this article.

Recently, my wife just ordered another magazine for our family. Interestingly, she doesn’t enjoy reading my Keil-Delitzsch commentary set or the History of the Christian Church by Philip Schaff (she must have got burned out by the endless anthology of medical books she deciphered at Boise State); but she will gobble down Christian magazines like World, etc. (and to all the female readership of SI, my wife did tell me she would delightfully interact with you all from time to time if I washed the dishes, watched our four kids, and bought her a personal computer that actually did internet). I confess. I claim no technical wizardry living in the backwoods of Idaho but only stubborn pride in archaic ways. I tell my gorgeous babe, if we weren’t living in the best state of all, Idaho, we would be in Alaska preaching to the moose.

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