The American Civil War Battle of Shiloh was fought on April 6-7, 1862, in southwestern Tennessee, which was part of the war’s Western Theater. The battle resulted in a Union victory. But a legitimate question is, “Victory at what cost?” American journalist Bret Baier wrote about that in his 2021 book Rescue The Republic. On pages 88-89 he related words Union General Tecumseh Sherman included in a letter to his wife Ellen, “The scenes on this field would have cured anyone of war. Mangled bodies, dead, dying in every conceivable shape, without heads, legs; and horses!” According to Baier, Union General Ulysses S. Grant also struggled with the same reality. “Surveying the field of battle in its aftermath, Grant reflected on the devastation: ‘I saw an open field, in our possession, on the second day, over which the Confederates made repeated charges the day before, so covered with dead that it would have been possible to walk across the clearing in any direction, stepping on dead bodies, without a foot touching the ground.’” There are a number of such accounts about the horrendous carnage and casualties that resulted from different battles in the Civil War. For instance, at Gettysburg there were an estimated 51,000 causalities (in military usage, a “casualty” is a person in service killed in action, killed by disease, disabled by injuries or psychological trauma, captured, or missing, but not someone who sustains injuries which do not prevent them from fighting). Of these casualties, 7,058 were fatalities, 33,264 wounded, and 10,790 missing after the battle. The Civil War was one of the deadliest conflicts in history—more than 620,000 Americans lost their lives (unless we include the war on the unborn which has resulted in the deaths of more than 64 million unborn babies since Roe v Wade on January 22, 1973. But I digress?). “Shiloh was won. But at what cost?”
A high price was paid for disunity in the Civil War. Apply this to religious disunity. The night before He died, Jesus prayed in John 17:20-21 for His apostles and “for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as you Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they may also be one in Us, that the world may believe that you sent Me.” No fair-minded person would expect or demand every believing person on earth would believe exactly the same thing about every single verse of Scripture and detail of teaching in the Bible. Yet Christ prayed for unity, didn’t He? And what is at stake? “That the world may believe.” Disunity contributes to a lack of faith in Jesus Christ, and that leads to people being lost (Hebrews 11:6). A computer search yielded this shocking information: “According to Gordon- Conwell Theological Seminary, there exist roughly 43,000 Christian denominations worldwide in 2012, up from 500 in 1800, 39,000 in 2008, and this number is expected to grow to 55,000 by 2025.” I’m not itching for a fight. I am reminding us that today’s pluralistic religious scene with its multiple faiths, baptisms and bodies just won’t jive with Jesus’ prayer or New Testament teaching about unity. Jesus prayed we would all be one, not 2 or 200 or 2,000. Just one. The cost of disunity is high in physical or spiritual warfare. Jesus prayed for unity among believers. Let us pray and plead and work for it, too.