A common verse of scripture that is often quoted by many churches is Paul's words to the Galatians when he said, "If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:9). The reason he said this was because the Christians in Galatia were becoming divided over issues of doctrine which was causing them to break apart into separate factions or, what we today would call, denominations.

Paul's comment to the Galatians was meant to bring them back into a untied fold where everyone believed and taught the same thing. He gave this same message to the Ephesians as he endeavored to help them keep the "unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 3:4) and he later explained that that the purpose of the Church was to help every believer in Christ to come "to a unity of the faith" (Ephesians 4:13).

However, today, in the Christian world, we see anything but a unity of the faith as believers in Christ have separated themselves into thousands of different denominations over issues of doctrine. Worse yet, in a lot of cases, instead of there being a spirit of peace between them there is a spirit of contention as each faith accuses the other of preaching a different and false gospel than the one they say Christ taught.

Just before He ascended into heaven for the final time, Jesus told His disciples, "Go ye therefore and teach all nations… teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:19,20). Since all Christians accept this command as their mission, each Christian denomination feels it is their duty to convert people to their understanding of what Christ taught. Therefore, it is understandable that each of these faiths not only feels in competition with all other Christian faiths but this also generates a certain amount of animosity and enmity between them as they not only seek to persuade people to accept their own beliefs but also to dissuade people from accepting the teachings other faiths.

There is no way to completely do away with this rivalry because each faith is strongly convinced in the rightness of their own understanding of what the Bible teaches. In the past there have been efforts to have an ecumenical movement where all Christian faiths can express solidarity with one another at least on basic, core principles but such efforts have produced very limited results mostly because they have trouble agreeing even on fundamental issues.

Yet, Paul taught that Christians are to be united "in the bond of peace." If that is what God expects of us, then how can so many different faiths come together without sacrificing what they believe to be true?

Since it is our doctrines that separate us, it is unreasonable to expect that people will compromise their beliefs just for the sake of bringing about unity in the Christian world. In fact, the very act of trying to find a compromise involves debate which can lead to contention. This is the very reason why the ecumenical movement has so far not been very effective.

If our differences divide us then the only way we can be united is by concentrating on those things we agree on and this is the position that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints takes. Rather than trying to convince others to change their beliefs to fit what we believe, or vice versa, they work with other churches on issues that each side believes in.

These include such things as the sanctity of the family, divorce, abortion, pornography, freedom of religion, gambling, caring for the poor, the sick, the elderly, and many other areas of shared concerns. Because of this, the LDS Church has worked closely with the Catholic Church, the Baptists, Evangelicals, and other faiths to promote values they mutually agree with and work against vices which they are united in opposing.

In this way no one is asked or expected to change what they believe yet, at the same time, they are able to work together in a bond of peace as brothers and sisters in Christ without arguing about their differences. Some examples include when the LDS Church has worked in cooperation with other faiths in their effort to combat the spread and distribution of pornography, to prevent laws that would weaken the institution of marriage, and to aid victims of floods, hurricanes, tornados and other acts of nature.

However, having said this, for the past several decades the Christian faith has been dividing itself along two major schools of thought. One school emphasizes a personal relationship with Jesus where the individual is considered responsible for their own behavior and the church is their source of spiritual strength. The other school of thought teaches Christians to rely on a collective or society shared effort as a means to help provide for the needs of others. Rather than the church being the source of help, this school of thought emphasizes the use of government programs to help fix our social problems.

Although these churches talk of a belief in Jesus, they tend to minimize the message of His atonement on the cross while emphasizing His message to care for the poor. What they teach is the gospel of social redemption which advances the idea that salvation comes to people when society as a whole comes together by combining their collective efforts to address our economic and social problems. But to do this they advocate a political solution rather than a spiritual one.

This concept is not new. During the time when the New Testament was being written the apostle Peter talked about Christians who were preaching "damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that brought them [with His blood]" (2 Peter 2:1) and the apostle Jude wrote, "For there are certain men [in the church who have] crept in unawares, ungodly men [who are]… denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ" (Jude 1:4). The apostle John referred to such people as having "the spirit of antichrist" (1 John 4:3). That is to say, they are anti, or against, the idea that salvation comes through Christ alone.

It is hard to imagine someone calling themselves a Christian while denying that Jesus Christ is our Savior but it happened in the past and it is happening again in our time. However, the difference is that this time these churches have teamed up with the government to help convert people to their belief system. As such, true believers in Christ are under assault to either become converted to this brand of Christianity or have their ability to practice and spread their own message either eliminated or marginalized. Because of this, there is a concerted effort being made to minimize the influence of traditional Christianity and to silence their voice. This is not just a disagreement over points of doctrine, it is a battle for the very soul of Christianity.

Americans are a very diverse group of people who have widely differing opinions on a wide variety of subjects and it is normal for them to have strong debates amongst themselves, but when America is attacked by an outside enemy, Americans put aside their differences and come together to fight a common foe. This is the situation that Christian churches are now facing. While they all have differences of opinions on points of doctrine they are now in danger of having their message either corrupted or censured.

The foundation upon which all Christianity stands is the belief that through His atoning blood and death on the cross Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Savior of mankind. It's one thing for someone to disagree with that claim but it is quite another when someone either seeks to prevent people from having that belief or tries to subvert and pervert that doctrine from within the Christian community itself. Today there is a growing effort by some who feel that they should dictate what is acceptable to believe and what is not acceptable by enforcing upon society their standards through some method of coercion.

As stated earlier, the Church of Christ faced this very problem during the time when the New Testament was being written and the apostles tried hard to unite Christians as the means to combating this kind of evil. If there were twelve men of God today whom all Christian churches would acknowledge and listen to as spokesmen for God as the ancient Saints did in the days of Peter, James, John, and Paul, then it would be easier to unite the various denominations into a common faith. But, without such men, we are left to unite ourselves, and the only way we can do that is by working together in the bonds of peace on those issues we do agree with. What will prevent us from doing that is when we concentrate on and argue about our differences rather than focusing on our common values.

Within each church there are certain rules and beliefs that all members are required to subscribe because without such a system, the church would soon find itself not standing for anything. On the other hand, if someone should disagree with the teachings of their church, they have the right to leave it and go to another but when one church or group of churches seeks to impose its beliefs upon all others of a different faith then they are violating a basic principle of Christianity which is the freedom of each individual to worship God as they desire.

In the days of Moses, God commanded the Israelites to worship Him and none other (Exodus 20:3) but in time they wanted an earthly king to rule over them. The consequence for this foolish act was that their nation eventually became divided through a bloody civil war after the death of Solomon and within a few generations both kingdoms were taken into bondage by other countries. But, despite their behavior God never compelled anyone to obey Him. Through the preaching of prophets He sought to change the behavior of His chosen people by reason and persuasion rather than through force or coercion by the church or the state.

When Jesus walked the earth He never forced anyone to accept His teachings The Pharisees tended to use coercive tactics to get people to obey them and the Roman government used the force of law to impose compliance, so it would have been natural for the Christian church to have used similar techniques to force obedience to their teachings but they didn't. Instead, they used reason and persuasion to motivate their followers.

The common goal of all Christian faiths is to bring people to Christ for their salvation and to do this, their motivating force has to be a love for all mankind. In fact, it was Jesus who said, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:35). If a husband tells his wife he loves her but behaves selfishly so that his action benefits him instead of her then his professed love for her is a lie. In the same way, if a Christian says they love their neighbor but acts in a way that preserves their own interests at the expense of their neighbor then they are not behaving according to the teachings of Christ.

It is understandable that each faith would want to keep intact the purity of their own beliefs but they can do that and still be united with other faiths on issues they agree with. But when one faith refuses to unite with another around a commonly held value, principle, or concern simply because the other faith believes differently on certain points of doctrine then they are acting in a selfish, self-serving manner rather than for the good of others.

Satan is the avowed enemy of God and his goal is to destroy the church of Christ any way he can. If he cannot attack it from forces outside the church then he will seek to find ways to attack it from within. What divided the church in the days of Paul started with the teaching of false doctrine which then lead to Christians arguing among themselves over whose teaching was right and whose was wrong.

It was contention that split Barnabas and Paul apart to the point that they refuse to go with one another on a missionary journey (Act 15:39). To the Corinthians Paul lamented that he heard "there are contentions among you" and counseled "that "there be no divisions among you" (1 Corinthians 1:11,10). He told the Philippians to "do all things without murmurings and disputing" (Philippians 2:14) and he advised Titus that contentions and striving about the law [of Moses] (i.e., doctrine)… are unprofitable and vain" (Titus 3:9).

Each Christian denomination has a right to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ as they understand it and to defend their beliefs but when they start attacking others they are only aiding the cause of Satan, not that of God. There is a time and a proper way to discuss differences and there is also a time when it is necessary to put aside differences and stand together for the cause of Christ.

Strength comes from unity while division only makes us weaker. The adversary works in countless ways to thwart the work of God and one of those ways is to divide Christians by having them squabbling with one another. No matter what the reason is for contention among Christians, it works to Satan's advantage because it weakens the church of Christ in its efforts to adequately resist his attacks.

For example, if there was a state which proposed a referendum allowing the legalization of prostitution and the Catholics were involved in fighting against the proposal, for the purpose of this illustration let's say that the Baptists refused to participate with them on the grounds that they don't agree with the Catholic's belief that the Pope is God's representative on earth. If that were to happen, it would result in less opposition being organized to defeat the referendum and would therefore increase the likelihood of its passage. On the other hand, if a group of atheists were against this referendum it would be better for Baptists and Catholics to work in conjunction with them rather than to allow it to pass.

Yet, as obvious as this principle should be there are some Christians who are so focused on what they believe that they curse anyone else who has the slightest disagreement with them and they justify such behavior by quoting Paul's words to the Galatians as was previously cited. But when they engage in this sort of self-focused conduct they harm the cause of Christ a lot more than they help it. When this happens, the result is that they often end up with something far worse than what they would have had by uniting with those whom they don't agree with on all matters.

The forces of evil are united in defeating the followers of God and toady there is a concerted effort being made to eliminate the message of the Christian faith either by watering it down, secularizing it, or outlawing it. This is what happened to Christianity during the days of the Roman Empire, it was a tactic used by Hitler during his reign, and it was the official policy of the Communist party. The only way Christians can win against this sort of attack is if we, as believers in Christ, stand united with one another.

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