— from The Gospel of the Comforter, Chapter 20.
This blog gains its name from the book Steele's Answers published in 1912. It began as an effort to blog through that book, posting each of the Questions and Answers in the book in the order in which they appeared. I began the project on Dec. 10, 2011. I completed it on July 11, 2015. Along the way, I began to also post snippets from Dr. Steele's other writings — and from some other holiness writers of his times. I still do that every once in a while.
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
How the Sects of Christianity Can Remain United
The various sects which divide the Christian world can keep the unity of the Spirit and dwell in peace so long as they are filled with true charity. How can this fulness be insured? Can we originate Christian love? Can we love at will? No. But having in the divine promises a sufficient ground for faith in Jesus Christ, we may ask for the presence of the Comforter in our hearts, whose office it is "to shed abroad the love of God," which is always attended by love to all who bear His natural image, and especially to all who bear His moral image restored by the new birth. Here is the real basis of Christian unity. It is spiritual and not ecclesiastical; not theological beyond the basal truths of orthodoxy; not sacramental and ceremonial. The manner and significance of water baptism, the Lord's Supper and the number and gradation of ordinations should be regarded as in the sphere of liberty. Is God revealed in His divine Son, Jesus Christ, the only Savior, and does He communicate Himself to believers in the personal Holy Spirit, the only Sanctifier? This is a doctrinal basis sufficient for the unity of all Christians. It is not possible to dwell in Christian unity with those who deny these fundamentals. They do not dwell in the same sphere with us, since they disclaim belief in the offices of the personal Holy Spirit and disbelieve in the Godhead of Jesus Christ, through whom we receive the Paraclete, who implants regenerating love and perfects sanctifying love, the element of Christian unity. Yet we should, without regard to religious belief, co-operate with all good citizens to abate and abolish evils which prey upon society, to enlighten the ignorant, to lift up the fallen and to remove snares from the feet of the tempted. While we believe that society can be most effectively regenerated by regenerating the individual, we should, while applying the truth to secure this end, cherish and express a lively sympathy with all who, though they "follow not us," are trying to cast out devils in the name of Jesus regarded as a mere religious teacher and reformer. They are, so far as the moral well-being of society is concerned, our allies in the great battle with the hosts of the evil one, though they are fighting with bows and arrows when they might be firing Remington rifles. But it must be borne in mind that Christian unity, as Dean Alford well says, "is conditioned and limited by the truth; and is not to be extended to those who are enemies and impugners of the truth;" who reject the real Christ and preach a phantom Jesus, and whose morals are as corrupt as their faith is false. To have fellowship with such a man is "to be a partaker of his evil deeds" (II John ix. 11).