Unity in Error
This just in. The Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship (TACF) and Canada's Vineyard churches just reunited in a demonstration of unity. Their unity is based on the following four points.
1. The Toronto Blessing is from God.
2. The TACF and the Vineyard church have been served by the Toronto Blessing.
3. They want to see the "blessing" continue for many generations.
4. TACF and Vineyard will only speak well of each other from this day forward.
Gary Best, the national director of the Association of Vineyard Churches in Canada, approached TACF for the unity meeting. He said, "This affirmation of unity together doesn't depend on us, our theologies or any organizational structures, but on the cross of Jesus Christ." Compare that to their four points of unity stated above, (and listed in the press release below).
Of course, we are to be patient and humble with one another. We are to make our best efforts to keep peace between each other. We are to be civil to each other. That behavior is a form of unity. But that form of unity is not to be confused with the form of unity emphasized in the Bible. I believe Paul stated it best in Epehesians 4:
"There is ONE body and ONE spirit even as you are called in ONE hope of your calling; ONE Lord, ONE faith, ONE baptism, ONE God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all...."
Later in Ephesians 4, Paul talks of the perfecting of the saints (you and I) for the work of the ministry and the edifying of the body of Christ (you, I and Christ) through love and the use of spiritual gifts. The result is coming together in the UNITY OF THE FAITH. This means no longer being "tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine" or by the tricks of false teachers who lie in wait to deceive those who desire a relationship with God. Paul goes on equating unity with SPEAKING THE TRUTH in love. (See Eph. 4:1-16)
There is only one truth, one Gospel and one God. We are to be united in Christ and of one mind with regards to Scripture.
We are not united if we differ in our belief systems about who God is, who Jesus was, what is necessary for salvation, how we are to relate to God or how God relates to us. We are not Biblically united even if *we* agree on all of those points and yet are united in an erroneous belief about who God is or what Scripture says. We must be united with each other *and* God to experience true, Biblical unity.
There is such a thing as unity in error. Proof follows in the TACF press release copied below.
Date: Mon, 29 Sep 97 16:00:42 -0500 From: jim wies
Here is some good news from Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship 9/28/97
>From TACF web sight: www.tacf.org --------------------------------
Somebody once said that lots of people are willing to bury the hatchet after a dispute, but too many of them keep a map showing where they left it. The Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship and Canada's Vineyard churches laid both hatchet and map to rest Sunday night at an inspiring unity service with more than 1,500 people looking on.
"Let this huge place be a storehouse for the harvest," Gary Best, national director of the Association of Vineyard Churches in Canada, prayed after addressing the congregation. "As a Vineyard leader in Canada, we bless this house."
The service followed the separation in December, 1995, of the Airport church from the Vineyard group, which it had been part of since its inception in 1988. (See Documents Regarding the TACF-AVC Relationship in this site's Revival News section for more information.) The unity service was held after Best contacted TACF several weeks ago.
"We're going to celebrate the unity of the church, if that's OK with you," TACF senior Pastor John Arnott said by way of introduction to the crowd after a powerful set of worship led by David Ruis, now a Vineyard pastor in Winnipeg, Manitoba. "The Vineyard leaders contacted us saying they'd like to make a statement that they love us as brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ . . . As with any estrangement, we'd like to air that and get rid of it."
The TACF leadership took to the platform while Gary was accompanied by several Vineyard pastors and area leaders. "This isn't rehearsed or choreographed, so we don't really know what'll happen," he said. "So we ask your forgiveness in advance. We do want to have a time of celebration tonight . . . But I'm from the west [Langley, British Columbia], and you know how flaky we are!"
Before outlining why he had approached TACF for the meeting, Gary stressed why he hadn't come. "To form a new super-partnership? No. To make a statement against the US church? No. I'm here because Scripture says we must make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bonds of peace ."
Later, he added, "Unity takes a lot of effort, doesn't it?" He also described the two years since the separation as "painful and difficult. But all of us onstage have honoured the Lord." He also stressed that, regardless of the outcome of the meeting, "This affirmation of unity together doesn't depend on us, our theologies or any organizational structures, but on the cross of Jesus Christ."
He then affirmed four statements, which he said had been agreed upon by the Vineyard leadership across Canada:
 "It truly has been the Son of God that has raised you up and has produced that which others have called the Toronto Blessing, but which is really the Lord's blessing."  "We have been wonderfully served by the blessing and your part in it. We appreciate your service to us and the body of Christ.  "Our prayers are for you, not against you. God has given you a difficult call, but we're praying He'll give you wisdom, protect you and allow you to see His blessing to the second, third and fourth generation. If one of us is weak, we're all weak.  "We covenant to speak well of you and assume the best of you."
He then assured that, "if we have any offense, we shall come to you." He then prayed for the TACF, that God would "bring strengths and gifts to them . . . Bring others to give them wisdom and encouragement."
Then it was the TACF staff's turn to respond. Marc Dupont took the mic first. "We thank God for the whole Vineyard movement and what the Holy Spirit has birthed through [Vineyard founder] John Wimber," he said. "We are all indebted to for the freedom poured out to the whole world through the Vineyard. Lord, thank-you that your cross is so much greater than our petty peripheral differences." He asked God to "bless all the Vineyard churches across Canada, and let it be multiplied across Canada in the name of Jesus from this day on."
John Arnott then gave thanks for Best's appearance, and called it "a precious moment to all of us. We want to join hands and hearts let love strengthen the bonds we already have." Just in case anyone had any doubts about the significance of what had just occurred, hugs and tears erupted on the stage, while the entire crowd rose in a spontaneous one-minute ovation of shouts, cheers and applause.
* * *
Best, who helped bring the Vineyard into Canada by planting the Langley church in 1985, oversees about 60 Canadian Vineyard churches. The group also includes another 500 or so in the US
About one-quarter of Sunday's audience came from local Vineyard congregations, while another quarter or so represented the Partners in Harvest group, formed by TACF after the split. Before turning the mic over to Best, John added: "It's fundamental within the body of Christ that we're called to stand together, and that's what we're trying to do here tonight. I'm glad there are distinctions, aren't you? There were 12 tribes of Israel, after all, but they were all people of God."
* * *
Gary then addressed the crowd on the subject of unity and forgiveness. The key, he said, is to realize that forgiveness comes not from us, as much as it does from God. "God begins to show you that He's nowhere near as discriminating as you are," he said. "He forgives people you couldn't possibly. Then, worst of all, He forgives your enemies. You finally get all frustrated and say, 'God loves anybody,' and that's getting close.
While agreeing that theological agreement is important, he stressed that unity isn't solely dependent on it. The key is learning to accept each other's differences within the body of Christ. "Most frustrating is when we finally figure out how to do things," he said. "Somebody will come along and do things differently, and the Lord will bless it!
* * *
The evening ended with about an hour of sheer, exhilarating celebration music, led by Rob Critchley. Rob pulled out all the uptempo dance tunes from his song list, running all the way from reggae to reels! Talk about a crowd eager to dance they wouldn't let the band leave! Memo to TACF leadership: if the crowd response is any indication, this was a great idea . . . how about doing it more often?
[End of TACF press release.]
[Truth Seekers does not endorse the form of unity expressed in the press
release listed above.]