Uniformity In Religion

They say in our culture that diversity is something to be praised. I find it lamentable and unpleasant. No, I do not believe in diversity and do not believe we should pursue it! When it comes to matters of religion (and politics which is nothing more then a subset of religion and doctrine) we should seek the highest uniformity and union. For that is like sweet incense and savor before the Lord. There is nothing so strong then faith and nothing so strong to unite us as unity in religion! They say that Blood is thicker then Water and that may be true but Faith is thicker then Blood and Water combined. It is not boring to be of the same mind. There is a joy and a zeal when two comes together in unity.

The Scriptures say “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” Amos 3:3

and

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” Psalm 133:1

It is after all a foretaste of Heaven where we will all be united in Uniformity and Unity in all important matters. And Heaven is not going to be boring.

In matters of all things important, in all things religion we seek uniformity and unity. In worship, in government of the church, in doctrine of the church as well as in the state and in the way God has commanded Magistrates. So important was this once considered that we had a Uniformity of Religion throughout England, Scotland and Ireland and all their colonies with a Directory of Public and Private Worship, A Confession of Faith with Shorter and Larger Catechism, a Form of Church Government, and a bind Solemn League and Covenant with a National Covenant and in the book (Psalms) of what we sing from in Church.

Our Spiritual forefathers did not believe in Diversity of Religion or Politics (a subset of Religion).

The Solemn League and Covenant reads,

“That we shall sincerely, really, and constantly, through the grace of GOD, endeavor, in our several places and callings, the preservation of the reformed religion in the Church of Scotland, in doctrine, worship, discipline, and government, against our common enemies; the reformation of religion in the kingdoms of England and Ireland, in doctrine, worship, discipline, and government, according to the Word of GOD, and the example of the best reformed Churches; and shall endeavour to bring the Churches of GOD in the three kingdoms to the nearest conjunction and uniformity in religion, Confession of Faith, Form of Church Government, Directory for Worship and Catechising; that we, and our posterity after us, may, as brethren, live in faith and love, and the Lord may delight to dwell in the midst of us.”

Alexander Henderson, Moderator (elected 3 times) of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and one of the Commissioners sent to the Westminster Assembly from Scotland said,

“Nothing so powerful to divide the hearts of people as division in religion; nothing so strong to unite them as unity in religion; but the more zeal in one religion the more firm union. In the paradise of nature the diversity of flowers and herbs is pleasant and useful; but in the paradise of the Church different and contrary religions are unpleasant and hurtful. It is therefore to be wished that there were one Confession of Faith, one form of Catechism, one Directory for all the parts of the public worship of God, and for prayer, preaching, administration of sacraments, etc., and one form of Church government, in all the Churches of his majesty’s dominions.” Alexander Henderson

Reformed pastor at Middelburg, Johannes Seu, declare as he urges the local ruler to “do his duty” by enforcing religious uniformity,

“How can there be a quiet and a peaceful life and how can a country flourish if its citizenry is divided by diverse conceptions of religion? There is nothing so baneful for the community as disunity, diversity, and contention in matters religious. Therefore a magistrate must stand guard diligently that false doctrine and heresy are precluded and eliminated, for these are the well-springs of all disunity among the citizens . . . . It is as clear as the noon-day sun that unity achieved by the sword of the magistrate is the one and only beginning, the middle, and the end, of peace and prosperity in the land.” [Quoted in No. 1172 of the Knuttel Collection of Dutch Historical Tracts (Copy in general Library of the University of Michigan).]

Covenanter John Guthrie said, “The Covenant did directly bind all following generations, “that our children after us be found walking in faith and love, that the Lord may dwell among us.” These are the very words of the Covenant. For what end were these words put in? Was it not to bind our posterity, and to keep uniformity and unity, and to bind them to the Word of God? But you will say, ‘there is no mention of the posterity.’ There was no mention of the posterity of Israel, when the people of Israel made that covenant with the Gibeonites, neither was there mention made of the Gibeonites’ posterity; yet you may see the covenant binding upon their posterity.”

Again Alexander Henderson wrote in the Minutes of the Westminster Assembly,

“We had a psalme booke offered to our church made by Lord Sterling, but we would preferre this [Rous’ Psalter] to that, for I have seene it. Well done to revise the booke & if it come to a directory of worship, that there might be uniformity in that in the whole Island….” As quoted in Chad Van Dixhoorn, “Reforming the Reformation: Theological debate at the Westminster Assembly, 1643-1652,” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Cambridge, 2004, Volume 4 [Appendix B: Minutes of the Westminster Assembly volume 1, Folios 198v-441v (17 November 1643 to 11 April 1644)], page 344.

May we once again see such Uniformity and Unity in Religion. Not some false ecumenicalism but a True Uniformity and where Brethren dwell together in Unity wherein they agree.

And all Private Christians should read and study the Standards of our Faith, they would benefit largely for understanding a clear and systematic conception of the Scriptures for “No Scripture is of Private Interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20), as Robert Shaw once said,

“No private Christian could fail to benefit largely from a deliberate and studious perusal and re-perusal of the [Westminster] Confession of Faith, for the express purpose of obtaining a clear and systematic conception of sacred truth, both as a whole, and with all its parts so arranged as to display their relative importance, and their mutual bearing upon, and illustration of, each other.” — Robert Shaw

It is also true that there is nothing small or trivial in matters of Religion. We must talked about them and discuss them. Everything is open for discussion although not all should be used for division. There are degrees of when we should divide but nothing is to small to discuss or debate. Iron Sharpens Iron.

The great Reformed commentator Matthew Poole said, “What Galen said of Physics is even truer of religion. There is nothing small and trivial in it.”, he continues elsewhere, “God esteems nothing small in his worship and service, and … he expects his will should be observed in the minutest circumstances.”

If they are small matters we still must study them and do them. Nothing is to small or trivial when it comes to what the Triune God commands. As His royal subjects, what He decrees we are to do for we are His servants and “woe to these who break them and teach men so!” (Matthew 5:19) Man cannot dictate to His Maker and God and say, “But why Lord?” or “My God would never command such” or “No, Lord I will not”.

As the Great Puritan Richard Rogers (1551-1618) said, “Sir, I serve Precise God”.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: