Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 9, 1964

A New Dimension Of Unity

Jerry F. Bassett

In September 15, 1963, issue of a Sunday supplement called Parade there appeared an article entitled "Pope Paul VI" which expressed the views of several leading Protestant clergymen regarding the new pope. The backdrop of the article was of course the much publicized movement for unity started by the late Pope John XXIII when he invited Protestants ("separated brethren" as he called them) to attend the Vatican Ecumenical Council of Roman Catholic Bishops and Cardinals in Rome.

Anyone who has made so much as a casual study of Roman Catholic history and of the doctrinal orientation given Catholic laymen, and who has paid attention to the undertones of Rome's efforts toward unity, knows that the only unity that the Catholic Church is going to settle for is one that brings all those who subscribe to it into spiritual submission to the papacy. Indeed what so-called Protestants have inferred from the glossy statements of high Catholic officials regarding the "unification of all Christians" and what the Catholics actually mean are two different things. Liberal Protestants long ago rejected the Bible and have no solid standard of authority on which to be unified. Consequently, unity means little more to them than an interdenominational organization in which each group still maintains its own sectarian identity. Of course, Roman Catholicism also ignores the Bible but it nonetheless has a standard of authority on which to seek unity and that is in its own hierarchy culminating in the pope. In view of these observations it seems that the Protestants think they can achieve unity with Rome while maintaining their own denominational identity but Rome fully intends to ultimately subjugate Protestants, and even-one else they can, to the pope. These so-called Protestants need to remember that dealing with the Catholic Church is like signing a contract to purchase from any shrewd operator. The large print states the obvious, but if you really want to know what you are getting yourself into, be certain to read the small print.

Methodist Bishop Frederick P. Corson who attended the first session of the current ecumenical council commented on Cardinal Montini, who is now Pope Paul VI, by saying, "In every discussion he was mentioned first as the ablest man among the Cardinals. I think we will see a new dimension to the word 'unity'." Indeed the Methodist Bishop seems to be quite taken by the man who is now Pope of the Roman Catholic Church (and perhaps one day the Methodist Church as well if the Bishop and those like him are not cautious). However, it is pertinent to ask just here why anyone should want a "new" dimension of unity even if the Methodist Bishop does want it, and even if Pope Paul VI were to provide it. What is wrong with that dimension of unity provided by Jesus Christ which existed before there were such designations as "Catholic" and "Protestant"? Surely the unity of Christ is sufficient for all.

In John 10:15-16 Jesus said, "As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also must I bring, and they shall heal my voice and there shall be one fold and one shepherd." The oneness of which Jesus speaks is of course unity. It is unity of men with himself and with the Father and consequently unity of men with each other in him. This unity is set forth in three essential steps; one shepherd, one voice, and one fold. Jesus is the one shepherd. In verse 11 he said, "I am the good shepherd." The voice his sheep are to hear is his own as he clearly states in verse 16. Moreover, those sheep who thus hear his voice are necessarily called into one fold for how could one shepherd with his own voice call his sheep into more than one fold?

Since Jesus is the one shepherd, what then is the voice by which he speaks and the fold into which his sheep are called by it? Jesus promised the apostles that they would receive the Holy Ghost to teach them all things and to give them remembrance of all things he had said. (John 14:26) He commanded them to teach these things to all nations and referred to that which was to be taught as the gospel. (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15, 16) Further, when the apostles declared the voice of Jesus those called by it unto obedience were called into one fold which is the church. (Acts 2:37-41, 47) Thus the voice of the good shepherd is his gospel, the gospel of Christ delivered by the apostles and contained in the New Testament writings (I Cor. 14:37), and the one fold into which his sheep are called is his church, the church of Christ.

Truly, this is not a "new dimension to the word unity." Neither is it a dimension that will permit those who subscribe to it to be either Catholic or Protestant, nor will it provide any kind of sectarian structure serving party interests. However, it does provide for a man to be one with God in Christ Jesus and thus one with every other man who is of the same disposition. It does provide for a man to receive God's favor and to enjoy all his blessings in Christ. Surely there is no unity known to man, nor that can be devised by him, that is so glorious!

May the day come when men cease to search for new dimensions of unity and humbly submit to that which has been divinely provided in Christ.

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