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The Prayer of Jesus: Our call to unity, by John P. Lathrop

A Working Definition of Unity

Before talking further about unity, it is necessary to define how the word unity will be used in this book. The word unity surely means different things to different people. As I attempt to define how the word is used in this book, I will start by stating first what I do not mean by unity. As others before me have pointed out, unity does not mean uniformity. Unity does not mean that the entire body of Christ is going to become one large denomination that agrees on every point of doctrine and practice. Differences in doctrine, worship style, church government, and other things will surely continue to exist until Jesus returns. In this book, I use the word unity to mean the essential cooperation of born-again believers, regardless of denominational affiliation, working together for kingdom purposes. This unity is predicated on the acceptance of certain cardinal doctrines of the faith: the nature of God (this would include the doctrine of the Trinity), the inspiration and authority of Scripture, the person and work of Jesus Christ, and the necessity of a born-again experience. These are foundational truths on which all genuine believers ought to be able to agree. Churches and believers that hold to these basic beliefs should be able to work together. Ministries in which Christians might work together include evangelism, prayer, and mercy ministries such as the providing of food and clothing to those in need. All of these are ministries that have biblical foundations (Matt 28:18–20; Acts 2:42; Matt 25). Unity can bring much glory to the Lord, both through its testimony to the unbelieving world and through the work that is actually accomplished through cooperative efforts.

PR

Notes

1 John R. W. Stott, The Spirit, the Church and the World, 82.

2 John R. W. Stott, plenary session of the Evangelistic Association of New England’s Congress, 1995.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, Today’s New International Version, TNIV. Copyright © 2001, 2005 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com

This chapter is from John P. Lathrop’s book Answer the Prayer of Jesus: A Call for Biblical Unity (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2011). Used by permission of Wipf & Stock Publishers. www.wipfandstock.com

About the Author
John P. LathropJohn P. Lathrop, M.A. (Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary), is an ordained minister with the International Fellowship of Christian Assemblies. He is the author of four books: Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers Then and Now (Xulon Press, 2008), The Power and Practice of the Church: God, Discipleship, and Ministry (J. Timothy King, 2010), Answer the Prayer of Jesus: A Call for Biblical Unity (Wipf & Stock, 2011), and Dreams and Visions: Divine Interventions in Human Experience (J. Timothy King, 2012). www.JohnPLathrop.org

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Category: Fall 2012, Ministry, Pneuma Review

About the Author: John P. Lathrop is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and is an ordained minister with the International Fellowship of Christian Assemblies. He has written for a number of publications and is the author of four books Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers Then and Now (Xulon Press, 2008), The Power and Practice of the Church: God, Discipleship, and Ministry (J. Timothy King, 2010), Answer the Prayer of Jesus: A Call for Biblical Unity (Wipf & Stock, 2011) and Dreams & Visions: Divine Interventions in Human Experience (J. Timothy King, 2012). He also served as co-editor of the book Creative Ways to Build Christian Community (Wipf & Stock, 2013). Amazon Author page. Facebook

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