The Maturing of the ICOC

June 2, 2008

Mike Taliaferro recently posted an article on ICOC Hot News titled “The Unity Proposal: My Church “Signed On.” What does that mean?” In the article he gave his view about what it means that some churches have “signed” that proposal and some have not. He wrote:

Does it draw lines between churches? No. While various churches decided not to participate for a variety of reasons, it does not influence our fellowship patterns here in San Antonio. We invite speakers here from ‘signer churches’ and ‘non-signer’ churches. I have been invited to visit ‘signer’ and ‘non-signer’ churches. It does not, nor should it ever determine with whom we fellowship. The Bible does that.

From the first time I discussed the UPC with Mike, I have understood that to be his perspective on the plan. I appreciate very much that he has stated it so clearly and so publicly.

I blog about unity because I care deeply about it. I care about it because I am convinced that Jesus cares about it. Ironically, my eagerness to promote unity was a significant factor in my unwillingness to “sign” the UPC. I want to see unity extending far beyond the boundaries of the former ICOC, to all those God has adopted as his sons and daughters. To me, it seems that the UPC might make that more difficult, since many congregations of baptized believers in the churches of Christ and independent Christian churches might be reluctant to sign such an agreement. On the other hand, the fact that many of the ICOC congregations have signed does not cause me to have any less desire for unity with them. I want to be unified with all my brothers and sisters in Christ.

I also recognize that people I love and respect have disagreed with my view on the UPC. That’s ok. It’s not a rare thing for me to disagree with those I love on some topic (just ask my wife!) But that doesn’t cause me to love less, and it absolutely doesn’t cause me to want to separate from those with whom I disagree, because love transcends those disagreements.

I wrote Mike a couple of days ago thanking him for his article. I understand that he has received numerous other appreciative comments from signers as well as non-signers. It seems to me that these churches are increasingly ready to accept one another without passing judgment over disputable matters. I’m very encouraged by this growth in our love and respect for one another. And I think Jesus must be pleased to see this small step toward fulfillment of his prayer in John 17.

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