“in seeking unity …

let us not neglect uniqueness …”

G. C. BERKOUWER

When we in our day consider the place of the Church of Jesus Christ in the world, we are inevitably impelled to focus attention on the question of our symposium, whether there are special accents in the New Testament which in the struggle of the Church in our day are being forgotten or neglected. It is plain that we must always be kept aware of such a possibility. In this short article I wish to approach the problem from the angle of a concrete and acute danger, namely that men today in the midst of the strong pressure toward unity of the Church do not pay sufficient attention to the relation between the “unity” and the “uniqueness” of the Church. In these two words we do not in any sense have a dilemma, between which we are forced to choose. But the danger lies herein, that in seeking unity with all our might, we do not give sufficient attention to the “uniqueness” of the Church. And it is clear that the neglect of this uniqueness of the Church threatens and makes an issue of the drive for unity.

That there can be no question of a dilemma is made clear immediately by the fact that in the New Testament strong emphasis is placed upon the unity of the Church. In the high-priestly prayer of Christ in John 17 such unity is central. This unity is even seen in the light of the unity of Christ and the Father, that they “may be one as we are one” (John 17:11; 22) and the prayer of Christ goes out to the Father, “that they all may be one … that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (John 17:21). This unity therefore stands in the light of the analogy of the unity between the Father and the Son and in connection with the believing of the world. But also in other ...

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