The Restoration Movement from its inception promoted unity among believers; yet today we are divided and splintered as bad, or worse, than any religious group in the world. It's difficult to convey a message promoting unity when our miserable track record evidences complete failure on our part.
The scriptures teach that division is wrong among brethren, and I believe most Christians realize that barricades between God's children are certainly undesirable. So how do we go about achieving unity? One reason it's so difficult to achieve unity is because we seek unity on our own terms, we want others to adopt our belief system (traditions and all,) while foregoing their own beliefs and traditions.
Once our plea was for unity among all believers, now the divisions within our own ranks are so deep we're seeking unity primarily within the Restoration churches; a far cry from the original intent. When we demonstrate the willingness to remove the weighty traditional baggage from our own shoulders, perhaps other people might notice and respond to our noble plea.
Alan Rouse (an elder in the COC in Atlanta Georgia) is asking some tough questions on his blog Christian Unity about CENI, and the Principle of Silence, in an attempt to better understand how these concepts impact the church.
After almost 200 years of fussing and fighting over these principles I can't help but wonder about their negative import. If members within the Restoration Movement can't agree on many of the practices CENI and Silence has produced over the years, how do we expect someone outside our little group to walk some of our narrow unlit paths when we can't even find it within ourselves to walk together!
The concepts of Silence and CENI have merit to a point, but over the years they have been used in ways that have alienated Christian brothers and sisters. Unfortunately both concepts are easily manipulated to suit a persons personal preferences, and often become wedges that divide, rather than unite God's children. These concepts can easily be construed to make my viewpoint and opinions gospel truth, and your viewpoint totally wrong.
We can have unity in Christ without total agreement in every detail. CENI and Silence can work to a point, but when it's used to hammer another Christian into submission who honestly disagrees with the conclusion, I think it kicks dirt on our efforts for unity.
As long as the CENI and Silence concepts are foundational in the COC groups I wonder if there will be any tangible results in our efforts for unity.