- Today: 10:00 Worship; 11:00Making Peace Seminar
- Monday @ 5:30 p.m.: Girl Scouts
- Tuesday Bible Study: @ Jeremiah’s, 2 p.m.
- Wednesday @ 11: Spiritual Council
- AA Meetings: in the Parish Hall:
- Tuesdays, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. – Discussion
- Wednesdays, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. – Big Book
- Fridays 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. – Discussion
Making Peace Seminar Today!
Sexxion 6 of this this 12-week video series by Jim Van Yperen based on his book, Making Peace: A Guide to Overcoming Church Conflict. Meetings will be Sunday mornings, 11:00 a.m.
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”–Ephesians 4:1-3
The failure to properly define Christian unity results in the failure to have it. If we don’t know what it is, we cannot share it in any meaningful way. Everyone knows that genuine Christian unity is not currently shared by Christians of any stripe, which must mean either that we do not know what it is, or that we are engaged in intentional disobedience by withholding it—or both. So, what’s the problem? Everyone seems to think that unity is desirable. Everyone knows that God wants it, that Jesus prayed for it, and that Paul commended it. Yet, it has eluded the church from her inception. Why?
Because insanity is defined as doing the same thing and expecting a different result, we must conclude that we are either in possession of the wrong understanding of unity, or we are seeking it in the wrong place, or with the wrong means. There must be a flaw in our definition, our end, or our means. The most likely culprit is the definition, because that is the beginning point. An error of definition will produce corresponding errors in the ends and means.
The traditional efforts toward Christian unity have been focused on doctrine. The unity that has been sought has been doctrinal unity or unanimity of understanding. Consequently, the church has sought to clarify her beliefs through the creation of various creeds and confessions, hoping that all Christians could be gathered around various doctrinal summaries, which is what creeds and confessions are. The earliest efforts in this regard produced the Ecumenical Creeds, which have helped the church define both orthodoxy and heresy. By correcting heresy, creeds and confessions help to steer Christians toward orthodox beliefs. And this is quite important. This effort has created a lot of very good and helpful truths, but it has not resulted in unity.
Over the centuries we find that these very creeds and confessions have also contributed significantly to the development and maintenance of schism and faction—the variety of denominations. Many of those doctrinal errors have worked to establish power and position within the various churches (denominations), but as power and position grow, so does their abuse. Those who hold power and position tend to grow increasingly resistance to the reformation of their own exercise of power and position because people tend to identify themselves with their power and position. And the more one has, the more one tends toward abuse. We often call it human nature to do so, but God calls it Original Sin. It has been said that power corrupts, and that the corruption grows with the power.
Applied to doctrine as the means to achieve unity, we have seen that the focus on orthodox doctrine can easily create groups (denominations) that concentrate power and position into the hands of various groups and their leaders. But what we have not seen is that such groups actually contribute to the unity of the whole church. Rather, the very groups that they want to unite (denominations) mitigate against the wholeness of Christ. It must be concluded that such doctrinal efforts actually impede unity rather than contribute toward it. Therefore, we must also conclude that genuine biblical Christian unity cannot be established by doctrine because doctrine is the basis for dispute, which historically has not moved toward unity.
At the same time we do not want to negate the value of either doctrine or dispute. Both play essential roles in sanctification. They help us grow and mature spiritually. But in order for them to play those respective roles both doctrine and dispute must be held together in unity. We must not allow our doctrine or our disputes to break our deeper union with Christ because the breaking of that union destroys the value of both doctrine and dispute. The breaking of union with Christ, which means union with all of Christ’s body, destroys the eternal character of sanctification and growth in Christ. The body of Christ cannot be all that God has called it to be when union with Christ is broken. Therefore, union with Christ must sustain, survive and surpass all expressions of doctrine and dispute. Our union in Christ must establish an unshakable loyalty to the wholeness of Jesus Christ. (To be continued…)