The discussion of “The Perils of Independency” in the last issue of Christianity Today was not based upon a predisposition to condemn Independency, but rather to examine its foundations and to assess its weaknesses. It is time now to reflect on its antithesis, ecumenicity. In this issue we propose to speak of its perils.

Independency is often motivated, we conceded, by a commendable desire to glorify Christ and to exalt the Word of God. The ecumenical movement likewise, gains its appeal from a worthy biblical concept. That concept is the unity of the body of Christ. While it has been elaborated from time to time since the Reformation, not until lately have multitudes in the churches regarded it with great seriousness.

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The Christian leader can point to much in the Bible which speaks of Christian unity. We do not say there is never a biblical basis for division. Apart from the issue of apostasy, so much invoked by the separatists, there exists another biblical basis for separation about which little is said today in any Christian circle. There is clear biblical precedent for the discipline of true believers who, falling into gross sin, thereby invite excommunication. Such an act of discipline, which purposes the exclusion of the impenitent lest he contaminate other believers, is exercised not with a penal objective in view but aims to reclaim the offending person through refusing him fellowship in the ordinances or sacraments. But except for these reasons, divisions in the body of Christians originating in the pride of men are sinful.

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The unity of the body, virtually all would stress, is a clear teaching and requirement of the Word of God. Nor should we minimize the fact that much of the current literature devoted ...

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