The Mark of a Christian by Francis Schaeffer

The Mark of the Christian (IVP Classics)

Summary: Short introduction to why we should pursue unity within the church.

This short pamphlet (60 pages in paper, just over an hour in audio) was written to address the unity of the church in 1970.  It is a good introduction to why Christians need to treat one another well, without ignoring real doctrinal differences or important matters of sin.

There are good thoughts here.  But it is so short, and this is such an important subject, that I feel he barely scratched the surface when the pamphlet was done. Roughly, Schaeffer pointed out the importance to Jesus Christ in his High Priestly Prayer of unity.  Then very briefly, Schaeffer walked through why this is not organizational unity, or theological unity, but a unity for those outside the church.  We are not one in order to lord over one another or to submit in all areas to one another, but the point, according to Schaefer is for those outside the church to see how well we treat one another inside the church.

Schaeffer lightly touches on the need to recognize true Christians, because it is only those true Christians that we need to be in unity with.  (Although Schaefer makes it very clear that given the rest of Jesus’ commands and even in the rest of the High Priestly Prayer, we are not to treat those outside the church poorly.)  I am glad that Schaefer spends some time here saying that we need to get the whole church, not just the parts of the church that look like us or think like us.  Because the whole church is much greater than our own.  At the same time he wants to maintain the need for church discipline, judgement and exile of those that refuse the submit to the teaching of the church.  He sets up the tension nicely, and then does nothing with it.  So the reader is left without any real idea how we would go about doing this.

Overall this is a nice little tract.  If you are not convicted by your lack of passion for unity (and truth) I would be surprised.  I picked it up free from christianaudio.com at some point a couple years ago and never got around to listening to it until now.  It is no longer free as an audiobook, but you can read the entire booklet free from Christian Classics Etherial Library.

If you are interested in this subject I would recommend two books as starting place.  Your Church is Too Small by John Armstrong is a very good defense of why we need to pursue unity within the church.  UnCommon Decency by Richard Mouw is a good book on some of the more practical ways to balance that tension that Schaeffer hints at.

Purchase Links: christianaudio.com MP3 audiobook, Christian Classic Etherial Library free online copy, paperback

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