The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s recent statement of agreement with the Roman Catholic Church stressed, in their opinion, how vital it is to focus on unity and the common ground both bodies share instead of a preoccupation with doctrinal differences that they are slowly and quietly working on. Their ecumenical decision begs the question: which principle did the Bible say is more important–unity or doctrine? We can draw some firm conclusions from the following New Testament scriptures:
6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men… Mark 7
17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. Rom. 16
3 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. 1 Tim. 6
9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds. 2 John
Since the RCC doctrines differ from the doctrines of Christ on the very nature of salvation and how it is obtained, even teaching that Mary is co-redemptrix with Christ, scripture is clear that they worship the Lord in vain by teaching the doctrines of men; that the RCC should be avoided since they cause offences contrary to Christ’s doctrine; that we should withdraw spiritually from them since they are destitute of the truth; and that we should not receive them into our Christian gatherings or bid them God speed so as not to partake in their evil deeds. The fact that ELCA declares its unity with the RCC says more about the spiritual state of ELCA than it does about the RCC.