A Call for Division in the Visible Church
A few suggestions are in order as to how we may, with both our feet on solid ground, strive toward the ideal of visible unity for the church of Christ.
The first need of the church of this day is not union, but division; however, division unto union.
First, we must have the courage to refuse to recognize as Christian certain self-styled Christian churches. The truly Christian denominations should declare apostate such churches so called as having officially denied cardinal Christian truths. Most assuredly, this should not be done lightly and least of all pharisaically. But if Unitarianism by its denial of the Holy Trinity has patently forfeited every claim to the Christian name, it is difficult to see how a church which has wittingly and willfully accepted the control of modernism, with its denial of the essential deity of Christ and such supernatural events as His virgin birth and bodily resurrection, has any right to be called Christian. Such a church should be denominated a false church and declared to be outside the Christian fold. If that were done, one of the greatest obstacles to the unification of the visible church would be eliminated. For theological liberalism, in all its clamor for ecumenism and church union, is working more effectively toward the disruption of the church of Christ than is any other force. The first need of the church of this day is not union, but division; however, division unto union.
The one and only way in which true peace can come is by the destruction of false peace.
Second, those denominations on which liberalism has made inroads but which have not yet surrendered to this enemy of Christianity should forthwith bring the doctrinal issue to a head. If that were done, almost every denomination in our land would presently be in the throes of controversy. Before long many of them would perhaps split wide open. But precisely that may have to occur if the visible church is ever to present a united front. When the Prince of peace declared that He had come not to send peace on earth but a sword (Matthew 10:34), He had in mind the fact that the one and only way in which true peace can come is by the destruction of false peace. Almost without exception the denominations of our land and day are enjoying – or pretending to enjoy – a false peace. Truth and falsehood are walking hand in hand. Surely, erring members ought to be given every opportunity to repent; yet so vigorously must falsehood be condemned and truth upheld that their respective adherents will part company. That will mean division, but division which is prerequisite to genuine unity.
While avowedly accepting the Bible as the Word of God, conservatives have often set up human reason instead of Scripture itself as the ultimate interpreter of Scripture.
Third, conservatives must humbly confess that they, too, have sinned and done violence to the visible unity of the body of Christ. Their sin has taken many forms but has usually been rooted in a failure to bow unreservedly before the Word of God. While avowedly accepting the Bible as the Word of God, conservatives have often set up human reason instead of Scripture itself as the ultimate interpreter of Scripture. For instance, instead of permitting both the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man to stand without any soft-pedaling of either, for the simple and conclusive reason that both are taught unmistakably and emphatically in the Word of God, many would be known as Bible-believers have done violence to divine sovereignty in a determined effort to square it with human responsibility before the bar of human reason., and at least a few have become guilty of the reverse procedure. By this type of rationalism the visible church has been disrupted. Again, it is by no means unusual for conservatives to place human tradition on a par with divine revelation. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day had nothing like a monopoly on the sin of thus denying the sufficiency of Holy Scripture. Nor does the Roman Catholic church. Protestant churches have been split by the demand of serious-minded Christians that church members live by eleven or twelve commandments instead of ten. It is at this point that the virtue of piety degenerates into the vice of piosity. At the same point the sin of sectarianism has frequently raised its ugly head. To divide the church on what according to the Word of God is an “indifferent” matter; that is to say, a practice which God has neither condemned nor commanded, is the essence of sectarianism. Once more, the failure to keep the various teachings of Scripture in balance with each other and the consequent stressing of one or some of them out of all proportion to others, have frequently destroyed the visible unity of Christ’s church. Riding a theological hobby is by no means an innocent pastime. Of such sins it behooves churches everywhere to repent, and from them they must desist.
– R. B. Kuiper, The Glorious Body of Christ, pp. 51-54