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Q&A 2023 Dave Scharf

What would Jesus think about all the different Christian denominations?

A reader wrote in: "Jesus wants his church to be unified. Wouldn't he be appalled by all the different Christian denominations?" David Scharf, a professor at Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minn., answers "yes" and "no."

In the high priestly prayer, Jesus prays, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you . . . so that they may be brought to complete unity” (John 17:20,21,23).

The answer is yes!
Jesus desires his church to be unified here on earth. His prayer continues to clarify the reason why: “Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (v. 23). Jesus clearly says that unity among Christians will best show the love of God to the world. However, we must understand that the unity Jesus describes is not “Let’s agree to disagree.”

The apostle Paul exhorted, “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought” (1 Corinthians 1:10). The unity Jesus desires is based on the total agreement in the truths of God’s Word. Jesus commands in the Great Commission: “Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20, emphasis added). There can be no true unity with those who teach things contrary to the doctrines of Scripture.

Martin Luther had no desire to leave the Roman Catholic Church, but instead he tried correcting its errors to bring about true unity. When it became clear that unity was impossible, he separated himself from that church body.

So this question can be answered affirmatively and negatively, depending on the perspective. From the perspective of Jesus’ desire for the church on earth, the answer is yes. He would be appalled by all of the denominations . . . because some have walked away from the truth.

The answer is no!
But from the perspective of Jesus’ desire for pure doctrine, the answer is no. He would not be appalled . . . because he wants us to stand on the truth of his Word no matter what the cost.

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