"maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace... until we attain the unity of the faith" Eph 4:3 + 13
This conversation of our unfolding DNA is not meant to suggest we are right and others are wrong. Quite the opposite. This is an exploration. This is a journey. When I look back on my 30 years of preaching, I have to say I am a little embarrassed by some of the things I taught - either by ignorance or misguided emphasis, the wonder of revelation does tend to put us on a story of truth unfolding, rather than a position of truth that is unyielding.
I have been through around 7 major moves of God - and I have loved them! Each has been a huge surprise, came in ways that caused us to stumble [just as he said he would as the rock of offense.] Tragically friends have not remained on the journey. From the Jesus People Movement to today, friends have subconsciously made a decision "this far and no further". By settling in their current theological position, it seems that they are like the foolish virgins who just weren't ready 'when he came'.
How does this fit into the unity piece?
Firstly we are told: "until we attain the unity of the faith". It is not a single conversation. We need to hold to what we believe with passion but not with dogmatism. We must place a comma behind it clearly indicating there is so much more of him that we do not yet know.
Secondly, it seems like most movements start with a particular "restored theological piece". This broad based unity is spacious and exciting in its discovery. However as the movement develops shape, form and direction it will move from a more vague sense of "unity" to some definition - one may say into 'uniformity". I sat at Starbucks yesterday with 3 great young minds setting up our statement of faith. What I loved was the diversity around the table and yet we could find a strong foundation for biblical conviction without anyone feeling like their theological cornerstones were being stood on. We will publish that statement soon.
Thirdly unity goes wrong when it moves beyond uniformity to conformity. There are many tragic aspects to this thinking, not the least is that conformity always shrinks! There is no room to ask questions, to disagree, to shift in one's thinking - that is deemed unloyal. By then, the individual believer and local church has surrendered their unique story and maintaining the legacy of the system is the highest value. That is not our story. Like the trinity where unity and diversity is celebrated, so we too celebrate the joy of that divine essence to reverberate in our story - we desire never to forfeit weighty biblical gospel truth, we want to enjoy both diversity while we walk in unity.