THE CATHOLIC HIERARCHY
The Catholic Church’s organization, with the pope as its head and with the bishops in different ranks as subordinates, is a hierarchy, which is not scriptural and is condemned by the Lord. We abandon such hierarchy to the uttermost because it is abominable to the Lord.
THE BRETHREN "FEDERATION"
The Brethren assemblies’ uniformity, which resembles a federation, also is not scriptural.
THE DEGREE OF MATURITY IN LIFE
Any difference among the saints or among the churches in the degree of maturity in life is normal and is needed according to God’s economy. God has arranged it so, and we should not attempt to make the saints or the churches uniform in this matter.
Any differences among the saints or among the churches that are intentional are abnormal and are condemned by the Scripture. Any intention to have differences among the saints or among the churches in order to demonstrate something or to oppose something should be condemned and rejected.
UNITY WITH VARIETY
AND VARIETY VERSUS UNIFORMITY
For the keeping of the oneness of the Body of Christ that we might not be sectarian, we must tolerate certain differences, such as differences in the way of baptism and in the observing of days (Rom. 14:15). This we consider as unity with variety. By tolerating this kind of variety, we annul uniformity. This is variety versus uniformity. If we practice this, we can be in one accord in spite of the variety that we may have. Of course, we know that sprinkling as a means of baptism is not as scriptural as immersion, and that the keeping of the Sabbath is altogether not in God’s New Testament economy, yet we tolerate these kinds of differences which do not damage the faith according to the New Testament revelation. We tolerate this kind of variety with the expectation that the believers who are for unscriptural practices such as these may grow in life to become more mature in the fullness of the measure of Christ so that they may drop these differences and arrive at the oneness of the faith. We earnestly hope that these believers will also be tolerant of the fact that we are not the same in these practices as they are, so that they can be in the one accord for the keeping of the oneness of the Body. To practice the proper one accord according to all the points mentioned above will surely render much help in resolving the intrinsic problem in the present rebellion in the Lord’s recovery. Thus, such a practice also is a part of the scriptural remedy for the present rebellion among us.
A CONCLUDING WORD
In the elders’ training in February 1986, I spoke on the matter of one accord (see Elders’ Training—Book 7, One Accord for the Lord’s Move, published by Living Stream Ministry). In those messages I mentioned the fact that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 was brought in through the one accord among the one hundred twenty believers (Acts 1:14; 2:1-4). Without the one accord, the outpouring of the Spirit probably would have been delayed. Hence, we need to see that the one accord among the saints and among the churches is crucial.
(Elders' Training, Book 10: The Eldership and the God-Ordained Way (2), Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)