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Christianity is currently split into several denominations due to differences in doctrine. It seems that these denominations consider their doctrinal differences more important than Christian unity. That is, they are unwilling to merge with other denominations if that means compromises in their doctrine.

Are there any good Biblical passages that relate to this issue? Specifically, passages that either talk about the importance of Christian unity or about the importance of doctrinal purity.

Does the Bible say that God wants Christians to unite? Or does the Bible says that it is more important that Christians do what they think God has asked them to do?

To the extent that there are denominations who do not have doctrinal differences, what Biblical passages address this issue? Are there passages that suggest there should be separate organizations despite doctrinal agreement?

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I think this is a poor question, because it assumes that multiple denominations means a lack of unity. Many denominations work well together, and most denominations view others as valid expressions of Christian church. –  Flimzy Sep 7 '11 at 5:49
    
I would say there the question is even more appropriate. Where there are doctrinal issues, the importance of doing God's work can justify the separation. Where there are none, any Biblical passages about the importance of unity would be even more relevant. If there are denominations that truly agree on doctrine and don't reflect any lack of unity, they can just be ignored for purposes of this question -- it's not about them. –  David Schwartz Sep 7 '11 at 6:07
    
I would say all have doctrinal differences to one degree or another. That doesn't mean there's "bad blood" between them. I am a member of a Mennonite church, and I currently attend a Presbyterian church. The two have many doctrinal differences. But they are united in the same goal of preaching the gospel, caring for the poor, growing in Christ, etc. –  Flimzy Sep 7 '11 at 6:11
    
Are there Biblical passages that suggest that this kind of incomplete unity is okay? Or not okay? (I don't mean to suggest that it's bad.) –  David Schwartz Sep 7 '11 at 6:18
    
The New Testament doesn't ever mention anything like denominations - instead each local church was viewed as being on the whole autonomous. –  curiousdannii Dec 4 '13 at 10:58

1 Answer 1

up vote 6 down vote accepted

God's will is that we Christians would be one and love one another.

John 17:20-22 (ESV)
 20"I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,

John 13:34-35 (ESV)
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

But, even if we should be one, we should not be the same.

1 Corinthians 12:12-21 (ESV)
 12For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body— Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
 14For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
 21The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you."

The passage above makes hints that as we are different, we might start fighting and excluding different members. This actually had happened in Corinth, and this was one topic in 1 Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 1:12-13 (ESV)
12What I mean is that each one of you says, "I follow Paul," or "I follow Apollos," or "I follow Cephas," or "I follow Christ." 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

To me it looks as though unity is very important. Of course there is still need for church discipline.

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