"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.XI No.III Pg.7
March 1949

Church Merger Versus Bible Unity

Clarence C. Gobbel

In the press and over the radio, we hear much said concerning the union of churches, or that certain churches, are either taking steps to- ward uniting under one head in what is called a merger, or have actually tried to merge into a new order. Now, it is true that the Lord Jesus Christ prayed for the unity of his disciples, and he died that all might be united in him to the salvation of their souls. And we know that all who are in Christ, new creatures, members of his body, are duty bound and obligated, to live and work together in such a way as to be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

In a recent United Press report, under date of February 5, it is stated that the "United Church of Christ was formed today with the merger of the Congregational Christian Churches of America and the Evangelical and Reformed Church but a small minority group of Congregationalists threatened court action to dissolve the new denomination."

Let us observe some striking things in reference to this "merger":

1. It failed to accomplish its own purpose. For instead of its really uniting two groups, and making one less denomination, it only added another one to the list. For the minority group will continue, no doubt under the old set up, and thus nothing accomplished, after all.

2. The action must have not been in keeping with the principles which make for unity laid down by the Lord, and his disciples. For, if so, why this minority holding out because of contending that "unity with the Evangelical and Reformed Church would endanger the Autonomy and freedom of local congregations." If this great conclave of around 1,000 members of these two bodies had proceeded according to scriptures, they would have settled this question by the New Testament, and both would have agreed in regard to the autonomy of the local congregation.

3. And why the name "United Church of Christ?" Before this merger neither group had ever bothered to be content to wear the simple and scriptural name "church of Christ." Can it be thought that, in their due deliberations they concluded that this was nearer to the right and scriptural name for them to wear, than what they had formerly worn? Now, if that is true, why not erase the "United", and be satisfied with nothing but "church of Christ"?

4. But their being called "United Church of Christ", though the new "denomination" will have a membership of 2,000,000, does not prove that they will actually be the true church of Christ. But maybe this occurrence is a move in the right direction, for it does tend to indicate that some thought must have been given to the truth in regard to a proper name. Of course, leaders of either side, could not be expected to be willing to accept the name of the other group, but were willing to accept one that everybody must admit to be more nearly scriptural than either of the others.

We know that there are many good names among denominational bodies, and if the name made the body, a true body, or the true body of Christ, all would be well with them. But of course a thing exists, before it is named. And until, by the Holy Scriptures it can be proved also scriptural in doctrine, faith and practice, the name doesn't amount 'to much before God, 'and his 'true followers.

Allow this- scribe to humbly suggest, that the main reason this "merger" reached the success it did, is because neither group had any particular, and definite doctrinal belief at stake in consenting to the "Merger." And the few who dissented thereto, are those honest souls who are not willing to give up this one point of doctrine, and about the only point that would distinguish them from other groups of so-called Christians.

The Lord Jesus 'Christ never did pray for denominational bodies to unite, much less "merger." He prayed for his disciples to be one, but knew that unity between his disciples and those of the world could never be possible. He said that he came, not to bring peace but a sword, for the simple fact that some people would not believe and accept his teachings, while others would, and thus a final and continual breach would be the result. When people of these above mentioned bodies, as well as all others, will be satisfied, not only to lay aside their man-made names, but every opinion, and teaching of man, and to take the Holy Scriptures as a final basis for unity, then and not before can we begin to hope for unity of all supposed believers. Even granting that this occurrence results in complete unity among themselves, one can only conclude that another group has been formed to continue in the paths of unrighteousness, rather than in true holiness, and peace. Let us pray that the day will dawn when men will endeavor to seek the true means of making peace permanent between believers in Christ, by searching for, and anxiously desirous of taking the New Testament as the true, only and final basis for Christian unity.