Reformed Theology

Unity Amid Differences

For the last couple years, the elders and congregation of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis have been debating making certain amendments to their constitution, including an effort to reach out to pedobaptists. As a Baptist church, I’m sure you can imagine how well that’s going to go over.

Their staff recently had their annual pastors and wives retreat, which is intended to help strengthen marriages and renew vision for their leadership. Their Pastor for Preaching, John Piper, gave a talk about Unity Amid Differences, which is especially pertinent for us, considering the upcoming Members’ Meeting at Sovereign Joy. Here is just one of his several points:

Let’s look for, and assume, the best motive in the other’s viewpoint, especially when we disagree. When Paul deals with disagreement in Romans 14, one of the things he appeals to is that those with opposite practical convictions have identical heart-motives. “The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God” (Romans 14:6, ESV). Christ-honoring passions, Paul says, can unite us in spite of differences of application.

On the subject of unity amid differences, I am reminded of John Calvin, who was strongly convicted that churches should celebrate the Lord’s Supper every Lord’s Day, but was opposed on this subject by the leadership in Geneva because weekly communion too easily reminded them of the Catholic Mass. He did not make an uproar about this but simply laid the foundation for his stance in his theological writings and left it up to the Sovereign Lord to work on the hearts of the congregation.

S.D.G.

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