For example, all Christians agree that we are all sinful. Thus as long as sin remains, it is going to influence how we handle knowledge and truth, even the truth of God's Word. Additionally, nearly all of the divisions among Christians are the result of pride. Furthermore all Christians believe that we humans are limited in our abilities to understand what God has told us and even effectively communicate clearly what God is teaching. This is demonstrated by people who are against the Reformed teachings, mainly because it was not explained logically or clearly. All through Seminary I denied "Limited Atonement" because my professors never clearly explained it; since I did not understand it, I denied it. This is the same reasoning as to why Christians disagree over such things as the method of baptism: Who should be baptized, believers or infants...and what is taking place during this sacrament.
We contradict each other because scripture teaches us to baptize and gives some examples; but it does not actually provide any kind of specific formula. Thus, we come to different conclusions based on our limited insight and our own determination, (what we like over what God desires us to do). These differences are going to multiply if no control is enforced on individuals and churches, which is exactly what has happened. That is why our Church Order Manual and "Articles" are so important. The Reformation encouraged all people to read the Bible, before the common person was not allowed to. Thus many interpretations have risen, both minor and cultic over the centuries, and all these various reasoning have combined with traditions and expectations. These all focus on what we do versus what God calls us to do.
What is important is the agreement that remains over the basics of Christianity by those who believe that the Bible is true. (There are individuals and churches that claim to be Christian and reject what the Bible says. I'm not talking about them, just look up the word "reprobate", and read Romans 1). Most committed Christians, regardless of denomination, who believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God have more in common than not; there is a great deal of unity in the midst of our diversity.
We all believe that God is our Creator; that He created us without sin, but that we have all fallen into sin; that our sin separates us from God and we cannot make up this gap; that Jesus Christ is God's Son who died for us that we may receive forgiveness for sin; that He rose from the dead and ascended into heaven: and we embrace salvation only by our faith in Jesus Christ; that the Holy Spirit is the one who gives us understanding about Jesus and salvation; that Jesus will return some day in glory. These chief beliefs are our essence that have withstood the test of time and the misinterpretations from sinful people. For myself, the many different denominations have increased my appreciation for the gospel, at the same time given me a passion to teach correct theology. and to reach the lost.
Consider your neighbor, the person you work with, a close friend, a relative, or acquaintance who does not know Him. Will your attitude of "my way or no way" keep you from being a witness or friend? Scripture is clear on what we are called to do, are you clear in your understanding and purpose and response? From the Episcopal church practice of burning incense in worship to the fundamentalist church that renounces any form of liturgy, we all still bow the knee to our Lord (John 14:6).
© 1992, 2001 R.J. Krejcir, Into Thy Word www.intothyword.com