This Chapter was one where I had differing views from Viola. There is no doubt that if you have unity you have to have something very basic in common. Thus common unity, in other words “community.” This comminality for Viola is “If God has accepted you you belong to the Church”. (I think Viola has shown us his reformed spots here)
I would think there are two main points for Church unity.
That a members are on a Journey towards Jesus. That some would have crossed the line, that Jesus is there saviour and others not. What is important is the direction that members of the community are travelling. Towards Jesus? This comes from social set theory.
The sticking point for me is, does God desire a relationship with those outside the church as those within? We end up with a type of dualism when God loves those inside the church more than those outside.
The other aspect which is essential for church unity and Jesus spoke of it at the last supper a number of times is that his followers “love one another”. You will always find something which you will disagree with someone else. What is important is that you can still love them despite differences.
I felt that the ‘Reformed’ angle, let this chapter down. The line ”To receive unbelievers as family member is to turn the church into something earthy and human”. Viola used a number of scriptures to support this, which he never elaborated on, but I’ll do that now.
1 Cor 5:6 : immorality of one who was in there group
Gal 2:4: Spies entered there group
2 Tim 3:6 non-Christians take advantage of Christian women
2 Peter 2:1 : false prophets
Jude 4, 12 : Infultators at the meeting.
I’m not sure these were the best scriptures to make the above point. What I would say in regards to church unity with those scripture examples are, the characters are not heading towards Jesus, the characters are not loving one another.
I was surprised that “love” was not given a greater prominence within a chapter on “Unity”.