Church unity amidst differences of belief and confession


WD Jonker
The Problem

The New Testament is very clear on the issue of the unity of the Church as the one Body of Christ. Yet we have a multiplicity of different Churches calling themselves Churches of Christ. The NT tells us that the unity of the Church is given with the salvation in Christ who is the only way, the only truth and the only life (John 14:6). Yet we have a great number of Churches claiming to know Christ as their way, truth and life, but differing amongst themselves regarding the truth, each having its own beliefs and doctrine. The NT teaches us that the unity of the Church and the unanimous commitment of all believers to the same truth are inseverable bound together. Wherever the truth is rejected, the unity of the Church is broken, and wherever the unity of the Church is violated, the truth is at stake. Yet we do not seem to be disturbed very much by the fragmentation of the Church or by the anomalous situation that we have a great number of Churches with different beliefs and doctrines existing side by side as if there could be nothing wrong with it.

This is the problem with which we are confronted. If we take the NT seriously, how are we to assess our present situation? Is it possible to differ as far as the truth is concerned, and yet to claim that we follow the same way and enjoy the same life? If we talk about Church unity amidst differences of belief and doctrine, in what sense do we use the concept of “unity”? Do we use it in the sense that there is an existing unity of the Church despite the many doctrinal and other differences, or do we see the unity of the Church as something that should be sought and will become a reality only when all the doctrinal differences between the Churches are overcome?

It is one of the distinctive features of the 20th century that the Biblical message about the unity of the Church has been rediscovered. As never before, the Churches have become convinced that many divisions within the Church of Christ are not only sinful, but also detrimental to the cause of the Church in the world. We in South Africa have a special interest in the matter. Our country is well-known for its great variety of Churches. There is hardly a creed or religious movement in the world that is not represented in our country. In addition to that we have a staggering number of African Independent Churches. Many of the Churches in our country have very little or no contact with one another. They do not really know one another. Serious discussions on doctrinal matters do not really take place. Probably most of the Churches have preconceived and stereotyped conceptions about what the others think or believe. Meanwhile a process of polarization between the Churches concerning matters of a social, political and ethical nature is taking place. The positions that we take in these matters, however, are directly related to what we really believe in the doctrinal sense of the word. If nothing else should cause us to do so, at least these pressing matters should urge us to seek closer contact with one another and to find an answer to the question whether we are really living from one source and therefore thinking basically from the same starting point in Christ. If we differ, at least it is our Christian duty to get a clear picture of where and in what we differ, and what theological conclusion should be drawn from it as far as the unity of the Church is concerned.

Only one true Church?

Although the problems about the unity and diversity of the Church has become very pressing in our age, the matter itself has always accompanied the Church. In truth, it is possible to enumerate a number of models of approach to the problem that have emerged in the course of history.

The first approach to the problem is to declare one Church to be the only true Church of Christ and to regard all other Churches as sectarian or false Churches. Unity would then mean that all other Churches have to give up their separate existence and be incorporated into the one “true” Church, which alone is believed to have the full truth.

We may call this the sectarian view. It is one of the hall-marks of sectarianism that it sees its own group or Church as the only true Church of God, while everybody outside of this group is to be regarded as lost.

Strangely enough, this is also the view traditionally taken by the Roman Catholic Church, although not with the same consistency and inflexibility that characterize the sects. The traditional Roman Catholic view has its roots in the NT witness about the unity of the Church as a unity that is based on the one truth of the gospel. However, despite its Biblical roots, the Roman Catholic view differs from that of the NT. The many conflicts of the Church with sectarians and heretics of all types caused the Church to harden the spiritual approach to unity of the NT into a purely juridical approach. More and more the Church saw itself as the only legitimate bearer of the truth, thus equating the historical institution of the Catholic Church with the Body of Christ, and the formulated doctrines of the Church with the truth of the gospel. From this point of view, it became impossible to imagine that the Spirit of God in His freedom could also work outside the boundaries of the institutionalized Church, or that the Church itself might err in short-sightedness and sinfulness, so that the censure of the Word of God should be made applicable to the Church too. The truth was no longer defined in terms of the truth of the gospel, but in terms of a given organization, just as the truth was no longer defined in terms of the living and dynamic Word of God, but in terms of the infallible formulations of the Church. Thus, the Church withdrew itself from the censure of the Word of God and believed that it was in possession of the truth in its fullness, leaving no room for the possibility that the truth might be too profound to be captured by any given formulation of it by the Church. This inevitably led to the intolerance which characterized the way in which the Church handled heretics and dissidents during the Middle Ages.1

Fortunately, the Church could not possibly be consistent in this approach. The great schism between East and West, as well as the Reformation, brought an end to the institutional unity of the Church. Seeing, that it could not be denied that the Eastern Church, and (according to the view of Rome) to a lesser degree also the Churches of the Reformation, did not abandon the whole truth of the gospel, the Roman Catholic Church was forced to acknowledge that there were circumstances under which even people outside the R.C Church could be saved. Although it the official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church that this Church is the only ark of salvation, several theological devices are employed to soften the obvious implications of it.2 It was only at the Second Vatican Council that a more lenient position was officially outlined. The Roman Catholic Church at present with certain reservations does recognize other Churches as Christian communities or even as Churches. The strict identification of the Roman Catholic Church with the Body of Christ is relativized to some degree in that it is no longer claimed that the Roman Catholic Church is the one Church of Christ, but that the one Church of Christ exists within the Roman Catholic Church.3

In any event, this first approach to the problem of the unity of the Church does not satisfy. Although we accept the element of truth to which it refers, namely that the Church may never be indifferent to the question of the truth or to the unity of the Church of Christ, this solution of the problems involved in the present situation of the Church is too simplistic. No single Church can claim exclusive identity with the Church of Christ or deny that there are many vestiges of the true Church in other Churches. The mere fact of the inconsistency in the present stance of the Roman Catholic Church is an indication that we must look for another approach.

Invisible unity?

The second model of approach is in a certain sense the direct opposite of the first. It is based on the premise that the visible disunity of the Church does not destroy the real unity of the Church, because there is a basic unity underlying the differences between the Churches. This unity is of a spiritual nature and consequently invisible. It is a unity in Christ. Although it is desirable that the Churches should recognize one another and cherish cordial mutual relations, there is no need to work towards confessional and institutional unity.

It is sometimes claimed that this is the view taken by the Reformation. The question is whether this is true or not. It is true that the Churches of the Reformation worked with a concept of the unity of the Church that differed from that of the Roman Catholic Church. They too accepted the teaching of the NT that there can be only one Church of Christ and that the unity of the Body of Christ is founded on the oneness of the truth. They differed from Rome, however, in their interpretation of the character of the unity of the Church and in their view of the truth. The basic point of difference can be traced back to the fact that the Reformation allowed for a dynamic vision on the role of the Holy Spirit, which was lacking in the position taken by Rome. This made possible a clearer distinction between the truth of the gospel, on the one hand, and the subjective interpretation of the truth by the Church, on the other hand. The Reformation admitted that the Church could err in its interpretation of Scripture, that it could be disobedient to the truth and was constantly in need of the censure of the Word of God. Moreover, it acknowledged that the Church in its visible and institutionalized form was not absolutely identical with the Body of Christ. The visible Church can at best have an indirect identity with the one true Church of Christ. Consequently, the Reformation maintains a critical distinction between the gospel, as such, and the doctrine, of the Church, just as it makes a critical distinction between the visible institutionalized Church and the “invisible” Church whose boundaries are known only to God.

This position of the Reformers did, however, not mean that they were indifferent to the visible unity of the Church. This becomes abundantly clear when we look at the ecumenical activities of the reformers, and especially of John Calvin. He had a passion for the unity of the Church and history testifies to his continuous efforts to overcome differences and the resulting disunity4. Yet he had a concept of the unity of the Church different to that of the Roman Catholic Church. He thought of the unity of the Church in the first place as a spiritual unity, as a unity in the truth. The fruit of this spiritual unity had to be a unity of mutual agreement between the different local Churches, opening up the possibility of a genuine communion of the saints in all the world. He did not visualize a hierarchical structure for the unity of the Church but thought of a unity that was in the first place the unity of a unanimous acceptance of the one truth of God, a harmony and fellowship worked by the Holy Spirit and served by the offices and organizational of the Church. It is not true that the Reformers resigned themselves to the visible disunity of the Church, just because they believed in the invisible unity of the Church in Christ. Neither did they regard the visible unity as of no importance. The Reformed confessions of faith clearly testify to their conviction that the Church should also visibly be one5.

It is important to note that the Reformation did not demand a complete uniformity in liturgy, church government or confessional formulations as a prerequisite for Church unity. Many confessions of faith were drafted in the time of the Reformation, and the local and regional Churches were willing to accept each other’s creeds as long as they could ascertain a mutual adherence to the central teaching of the gospel. Calvin himself was willing to sign the Confessio Augustana Variata and he exercised communion with a number of Churches who differed from him in such important points as Predestination, the form of liturgy, the acceptability of bishops etc. It is no wonder that the Reformation used the distinction between fundamental and non-fundamental articles of faith, even though it was difficult to draw a clear distinction between these two categories6. No Reformational Church regarded itself as the only true Church. Even though the Reformers often referred to the Roman Catholic Church as the false Church, they did not deny that some vestiges of the true Church could be present in a Church harbouring, according to their view, so many erroneous doctrines. This, however, does not mean that the Reformation was indifferent to the truth. On the contrary, the truth was of the utmost importance. But the Reformation could allow for differences between the Churches which were not divisive, for the very reason that they concentrated on the heart of the gospel. The Reformers had very outspoken ideas about the limits of their willingness to tolerate differences of a doctrinal nature. Wherever the heart of the gospel was distorted, there was no possibility of realizing the unity of the Church.7

It was only in the 18th century that the Protestant Churches adopted liberal points of view that allowed for far-reaching tolerance in doctrinal matters. Hence the idea that there was no need to strive after the visible unity of the Church. In this period, we see the development of large national Churches harbouring within themselves a number of different groupings with differing convictions, only outwardly bound together by a common ecclesiastical structure. Many sincere Christians felt themselves forced – for the sake of the truth – to break their ties with these Churches. Especially during the 19th century a number of disruptions took place, and new confessional Churches came into existence alongside the historical national Churches. That the visible unity of the Church was broken in this way, did not cause much distress, partly because it was felt that the unity was in any case non-existent in ecclesiastical bodies tolerating all kinds of heresies their midst, and partly because the spirit of the age was individualistic. In this rational age many did not regard the Church as different from other free societies and organizations; consequently, there was really nothing to prevent Christians, who felt that they had common sentiments and belonged together spiritually, to form a new denomination of their own. It was felt that this could not affect the unity of the Church which was believed to be spiritual and invisible.

This second approach to the unity of the Church is just as unacceptable as the first. Clearly it is a perversion of the NT and the Reformational view on the unity of the Church. It ignores the fact that the spiritual unity of the Church is meant to become visible in the world (John 17). Instead of using the concept of the “invisible Church” as a critical concept to counteract an uncritical identification of the visible Church with the Body of Christ, this approach takes this concept of the Invisible Church to denote a Platonic idea of a Church that cannot be negatively affected by any degree of visible fragmentation. Whosoever holds this view on the unity of the Church has no idea of what the communion of saints is meant to be. He does not understand the meaning of the Scriptural tenet that the Church is not of our own making but is a divine creation. We are not free to sever our ties with the Church as an institution and to establish a new Church of our own choice. The catholicity of the Church is to be taken seriously. It does not apply to the so-called Invisible Church, but to the visible Church as well. The Reformers never understood themselves as founding a new Church, but as restoring the unity of the Church that was broken when the Church of Rome abandoned the truth of the gospel8. Any disregard for the visible unity of the Church must be regarded as irresponsible.

Desirable pluriformity?

At this stage it is necessary to pay attention to a third approach to our problem. This is the attempt to rationalize the broken unity of the Church, whereby the multiplicity of Churches is regarded as a necessary outcome of God’s plan for the Church. As examples of this we mention two theories: the one is the so-called “branch theory”, which was expounded by men like Von Zinzendorff and favoured very much in Anglican circles. The Church is compared to a tree which has a number of different branches that are separate from one another, while still belonging to the same tree9. The other is Abraham Kuyper’s theory of the pluriformity of the Church, which holds more interest for us, because of its influence in South Africa, especially within the circles of the NGK.

Kuyper was convinced that the historical development since the Reformation (which resulted in the co-existence of a number of Protestant Churches) was, under the providence of God, a necessary and healthy one10. Kuyper argues that it is impossible for anyone Church to absorb the fullness of the gospel. The light of God’s revelation is broken up into a prism of different shades when it enters the human consciousness. The pluriformity of the Church is the direct result of the diversity amongst men. Different groups of people will inevitably have different conceptions of the truth of God. Consequently, there can be no objection to the diversity of insight into the truth of God manifesting itself in a diversity of Churches. Thus, the one Church of God exists in a pluriformity of Churches reflecting different shades and facets of the one truth of God. According to Kuyper, God loves diversity, as can be seen in his creation. Uniformity is the curse of our modern culture11. Kuyper is convinced that it is in accordance with the will of God that those who are like-minded and belong together spiritually and culturally, should be free to choose their own form of association in the service of God, allowing others to do the same. He, therefore, defends the idea that new Christians in the mission fields should not be forced to accept the same confessions of faith faith or the same liturgy as the Churches that proclaimed the message to them. They should be allowed to form their own Churches and to formulate their own confessions of faith, as long as the the authority of the Word of God and remain faithful to the basic Christian doctrine.

It is clear that Kuyper was not indifferent to the truth. He had a passion for the truth. That is why he eventually broke with the tolerant Netherlands Reformed Church. What Kuyper really wanted, were confessional Churches, strict in their adherence to their confessions of faith, and willing to take disciplinary steps to guard against heresy. Within the same Church there should be no room for a plurality of convictions. With his concept of the pluriformity of the Church, Kuyper strangely enough seems to allow precisely for such a plurality of convictions to be manifested in a plurality of separate Churches12. On this point Kuyper had to face severe criticism. He was accused of glossing over the seriousness of doctrinal divisions between Churches and of under-estimating the sinful character of the disunity of the Church. Serious confessional differences are represented by him as a variety in “vorm”. Kuyper was a product of the 19th century. This is illustrated not only by a drift towards individualism in his ecclesiology, but also by his defective vision of the unity of the Church.

However, in spite of serious objections against Kuyper’s idea of the pluriformity of the Church, we cannot deny that there is an element of truth in his views on the subjectivity of the truth and the diversity of interpretations of the truth resulting from it. There are indeed many factors that influence our human appropriation of the Revelation. Today we are aware of the important role of the so-called “non-theological factors” in shaping the different types of religious experience and spirituality. Our eyes have been opened to the contextual character of our theology. More than in the past we realize that our knowledge of the truth and our confessions of faith always have a historical and a local character. In this sense Kuyper was right. The question is, however, whether we should concede that differences resulting from these factors should lead to the formation of different Churches, as Kuyper would have us believe. On this point Kuyper does not have any Scriptural basis for his ideas. His argument is of a phenomenological nature. Biblically speaking, one should rather think in the direction of a pluriformity within the one Church of Christ. It should not be made easy for groups of Christians to separate themselves from others, to withdraw themselves from dialogue with others, and so to deprive themselves of the enriching critique of those who hold other points of view. This seems to be the only responsible way to deal with such differences as long as it is possible to have a common commitment to the truth of the Word of God.

Already one in Christ?

The last approach to the problem of unity and diversity to which we want to pay attention is that of the World Council fellowship of Churches. The WCC understands itself as a fellowship of Churches believing in the unity of the Church as a reality in Christ, striving towards a more complete manifestation of that unity and stimulating Churches to reunite wherever it is possible. The basic conviction in the present Ecumenical Movement as spelt out by some of the best theologians involved, is that the unity of the Church can never be the result the any human endeavour to accomplish unity in the Church. It is already realized in Christ and in that sense, it is indestructible. In the light of the God-given unity of the Church in Christ, the disunity of the Churches must be seen as scandalous, as a manifestation of the terrible enigma of sin. It is only through faith in the Cross of Christ and his triumph over all darkness and sin, that the Churches must move forward to overcome their divisions and to act in obedience of faith to that oneness that is realized already in Christ. Ultimately the unity of the Church is of an eschatological nature, but that does not mean that the powers of the eschaton are not yet penetrating the present to put the disunity of the Churches under attack. Therefore, the Churches should seek to further the cause of their unity with all their power13.

Without any doubt this is the most profound understanding of the unity of the Church since he Reformation. However, one of the main problems in the Ecumenical Movement is its ambivalent relation towards the question of the truth. In the NT there is a direct relation between unity and the acceptance of the truth of the gospel. The unity of the Church is threatened whenever the truth is not upheld. Christians are called upon to separate themselves from those who deny the truth. One cannot say that the WCC is not aware of this close link between unity and truth. The problem is, however, that the WCC carefully refrains from testing the veracity of the acceptance of Biblical truth by its member Churches. Fact is that many of the Churches associated with the WCC allow a theological liberalism in their midst, sometimes of so grave a nature that hardly anything of the fundamental Biblical faith is retained. It has always been one of the main criticisms of the Evangelicals against the WCC that it accepts as members Churches that are doctrinally indifferent and liberal. In that case, however, is questionable to start from the that all are one in Christ14.

It is also true that the WCC has had only limited success as far as doctrinal consensus is concerned. On these issues the participating Churches and traditions seem to adhere to their own positions. Sometimes the beautiful assertions about the realized oneness of the Church in Christ seem to be little more than hollow theological talk. Perhaps that is the reason why the WCC was driven more and more into being an all-inclusive body, capable of reflecting all the divergent views, but not able to give clear guidance. It is consequently quite natural that the WCC turned its attention more and more towards ethical questions and joint actions in the field of social, economic and political problems. An unmistakable one-sidedness has taken over, opening up all kinds of possibilities for the WCC to be manipulated and used as an instrument in the struggle between ideologies. Much of the original enthusiasm for the WCC has disappeared in Churches that took the initiative for its formation a few decades ago.

Despite these points of criticism, it must be admitted that the Ecumenical Movement, even if it is a failure in many respects, is in itself a great event in the history of the Church. It is necessary for the different Churches to seek each other and to create the opportunity to listen to each other, in order to become obedient to the Biblical message about the oneness of the Church in Christ. In so far as the WCC provides a platform for penetrating discussions on the real factors that divide the Churches, it could fulfil an essential role. We may hold out the hope that someday the WCC will be able to free itself from the weaknesses that presently hamper its proper functioning.

A few conclusions

Looking back on what we have said, it is possible to draw a few conclusions. First of all, we want to state that it is Biblically indisputable that there exists a oneness of the true Church of God that is hidden in Christ despite all the sinful and visible divisions between the Churches. This conviction is characteristic of the Reformational view on the unity of the Church and forms the valuable tenet in the theological stance of the Ecumenical Movement. It is important to note that there is a clear difference on this point between the Reformers and those who defend the theories about the Invisible Church or the pluriformity of the Church. The Reformers had a passion for the visible unity of the Church and urged the Churches to make manifest what is a given reality in Christ. In this sense there is a close correlation between the Reformational view on the relation between justification and sanctification and their view on the unity of the Church as an indicative and an imperative at the same time.

Our second conclusion is that the Churches in our country should do much more to convince themselves and their members that the disunity of the Church is sinful and that it is a commandment of God that the unity of the Church should be sought. Starting from the conviction that the Church is one in Christ, we must discard all forms of evasion and commit ourselves to the task of seeking, finding and protecting the unity of the Church in every respect. This should not be done because of some or other external cause, but simply for the sake of Christ and in obedience to the Word of God.

Our third conclusion is that we should try to get a clear picture of the type of unity that we are working for. The unity of the Church is basically of a spiritual nature and it manifests itself in mutual acceptance, love, brotherhood, fellowship, the communion of saints, like-mindedness and everything that is included in what Paul calls the “bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). These things are not “invisible” but form part of the normal existence of Christians. It is when this mutual love and unity of spirit becomes visible in the world, that it is convinced of the veracity of the confession of faith in Christ. It is possible to have a visible manifestation of the unity of the Church without having only one organization and creed. It is essential, however, that the Churches should attempt to find visible structures that will express, enhance and protect the unity of the Church. Although visible forms cannot create unity, they serve Christian fellowship, and the communion of saints and are therefore of the utmost importance. Likewise, although it is possible to have Christian unity without having the same creed, it is imperative that any move towards greater unity should be founded on a mutual desire to be obedient to the truth of the Word of God. Where there is no unity in truth, there can be no real unity at all. Therefore, it is essential that Churches should come to a substantial agreement on certain basic doctrinal issues before they will be able to give meaningful expression to their unity in Christ.

Our fourth conclusion is that it is absolutely necessary that we should create opportunities for the different Churches to meet each other and to get to know each other. Frank and open discussion and an on-going dialogue among the Churches is absolutely imperative. However, it is impossible for any discussion on the unity of the Church to ignore the question of the truth. The only real criterion for the truth is the Word of God. It should therefore be clear from the outset that Churches entering these discussions must be willing to subject themselves to the Word of God. Seeing that most differences between the Churches manifest themselves in different interpretations of the Bible, the hermeneutical questions underlying our interpretations of the Bible will necessarily be a major topic of discussion. In this way the Churches will have to examine their agreements to discover what disagreements they contain, and to examine their disagreements to uncover their concealed agreements. It is just possible that the Churches in South Africa may discover that they have much more in common than they are aware of. The points of agreement between us should be ascertained and cherished. The points of disagreement should be discussed frankly but in a spirit of love and mutual acceptance.

Our fifth conclusion is that we should bear in mind that our knowledge of the truth is always subjective and relative. It has a historical and a contextual character. We accentuate different elements in the message of the Bible, according to the differences in our “local” situation. That does not mean that the gospel itself is relative, but it does mean that we must be willing to take seriously the interpretation of the gospel by Christians from a background different to our own. For the unity of the Church to be kept intact it is not necessary that each of us should have exactly the same point of view. Therefor we should not demand of all other Churches to subscribe to our own articulation of Biblical truth. There is room for a certain degree of plurality of conviction within the one Church of Christ. However, there are limits to what is acceptable. There are fundamentals of Biblical faith, such as the doctrine of the Trinity, the deity of Christ, justification by faith etc. that may not be abandoned if a Church still wants to call itself Christian. This is the service the different Churches and even the different groups within any one Church should render each other, that they test each other’s point of view in the light of the fundamentals of Biblical faith. Diversity as such does not necessarily destroy the unity of the Church but may serve to enrich it. Within the Church there should be room for a large variety of spiritual and religious experience. Mere differences of spirituality are not enough to justify the formation of separate Churches. The Churches should be able to accommodate believers of different religious temperament, long as they all adhere to the same fundamental tenets of faith. Likewise, it should be possible to include Churches and communities of a great variety of religious experience and practice in an ecumenical fellowship. To be sure, one of the first points to get clarity about, is whether the differences between the Churches are really doctrinal in character, or whether they are perhaps of a quasi-doctrinal character, being in reality only differences of spirituality.

Our last conclusion is that it is imperative that the Churches should seek areas of joint activity. We have seen that here pitfalls may arise. Churches may be detracted from looking into their differences in faith, because they are kept busy with all manner of activity. Moreover, it is much easier for the Churches to be misused for the sake of one or another external cause when they give priority to joint action than when they are seeking unity for its own sake. Still, the cooperation of the Churches remains an important matter. Even though Churches may differ considerably from each other in respect to their creeds, they may be able to work together ether in matters of mutual Christian interest. If handled correctly this may even be helpful to further closer acquaintance amongst them. It may help to remove the fear of each other that seems to be present amongst many of the Churches ill our country. And it may eventually open up new possibilities for discussions on the real issues that divide us.


Show 14 Footnotes

  1. Cf. H. Bavinck: De Katholiciteit van Christendom en Kerk, Kampen, 1068, 12 ff.
  2. Cf. Ludwig Ott: Grundriss der Dogmatik9, Freiburg-Basel-Wien, 1978, 373 ff; G.C. Berkouwer: Vaticaans Concilie en Nieuwe Theologie, Kampen, 1965, 229 ff.
  3. Cf. K. Rahner/ H. Vorgrimmiler: Keines Konzilskompendium6, Freiburg, 1969, 217 ff.; H. Küng, De Kerk, Hilversum-Antwerpen, 1967, 325 ff.
  4. Cf. W. Nijenhuis: Calvinus Oecumenicus, ’s-Gravenhage, 1959; Otto Weber: Die Einheit der Kirche bei Calvin, in: Calvinstudien, 1959 Neukirchen, 1960, 130 ff.
  5. Confessio Belgica, art. 27 ff.
  6. Cf. JMR. Diermanse: De fundamentele en niet-fundamentele geloofsartikelen in de theologische discussie, Franeker,1974, 31 ff; also his: Het fundamentele en het fundament, Franeker, 1978.
  7. Cf. Nijenhuis, o.c., 225.
  8. Cf. D Nauta: Calvijns afkeer van een schisma, in: Ex Auditu Verbi, Kampen., 1965, 131 ff; W. Niesel: Die Theologie Calvins2, Neukirchen, 1957, 195 ff.
  9. Cf. Küng, o.c., 324.
  10. Cf. J Plomp: Eenheid en pluraliteit – vier verkenningen in, Geref. Theol. Tijdschr., Febr. 1977, 42 ff.; P.A. van Leeuwen: Het kerkbegrip in de theologie van Abraham Kuyper, Franeker, 1946, 234 ff.
  11. A Kuyper: Eenvormigheid, de vloek van het moderne leven, Amsterdam, 1869.
  12. Cf. J Bakker: Pluraliteit as weg, in: Geref. Theol. Tijdschr., Febr. 1977, 51 ff.
  13. Cf. TF Torrance: Conflict and Agreement in the Church II, London, 1959, 263 ff; W.A. Visser ’t Hooft: Heel de kerk voor heel de wereld, Baarn, 1968.
  14. Cf. K Runia: De Wereldraad in discussie, Kampen, 1978.