The Herb Of Grace

Theology and Poetry, Politics and Prose

The Re-unification of the Church May 15, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joel @ 6:28 pm

     Everyone has their fifteen minutes of fame and so in the same way everyone has their hour or two of naivety; I’m quite sure this is mine, at least partially.  I hope the other part may bear some drop of light.


         Amidst the complexities and 2,000 year old wounds, it is appropriate to call for the re-unification of the Church.  It is not a beautiful sign of the broken body of Jesus that we are divided in hateful camps from each other.  Our brokenness would be wonderfully apparent if we were as one, we do not need denominations (as we have conceived them) to show this symbol of the cross.  This idea that our dis-unity is an essential symbol of Christian life is, to me, plainly accommodating.  In the face of words from Jesus about unity and witness of the Church being tied to that unity, our dis-unity becomes sin.


         I have been imagining how this would take place, letting my mind roam free, brainstorming, enjoying what I’ve been seeing.  So I share the tricklings of it with you now for the sake of honesty as well as to continue my own process of thinking these things out.


         The new thought to me that has made this call possible is the thought about the nation-state being a religion.  If it is true that the religion of the “right to pursue happiness” is the dominating god in our society then this sheds light for me on the reason for dis-unity in the Church.  We do not have dis-unity because of different takes on the same God, but rather splitting off becomes the only interesting thing we can do when our religion has been so domesticated by this ruling god.  This idea is expressed by the notion of “tolerance” or “religious diversity.”  In tolerance, it is assumed that the public space is one that is unfettered by religious views which would oppress others by their desire for conversion; but there is no more evangelical movement than the nation state and it is sole controller of our public space.  It is ever drawing more into it’s community, converting millions by choice or by force to a certain kind of freedom, rights, and view of the human.  that none of these “certain kinds” are Christian is a relatively recent revelation for many and it opens the way for a glorious re-unification of the Church.

          for as we come to know that Jesus is Lord, we come to know that others are not.  Helping each other realize that the nation state, for all its promises of security and safety, is not Lord, is a step towards uniting the Church under one Lord, crucified and resurrected.


          Perhaps my naivety is that I am imagining church leaders hearing this, understanding, and responding in positive measures.  I imagine thousands of Church leaders getting together to be guided through the necessary forgiveness and re-thinking, i imagine a large out-pouring of the Holy Spirit to comfort the confusion as we stumble towards each other.  I imagine connecting theologians with the Church again, assigning each denomination a theologian who would help and then cycle to another denomination.  I imagine a real revelation of what imitation of Christ means; i guess i am imagining a Pentecost which acts as a kind of intense family reunion.


        I’ll explore this idea more in subsequent posts.


5 Responses to “The Re-unification of the Church”

  1. R.O. Flyer Says:

    This is great Joel. I especially like the last line: “I guess I am imagining a Pentecost which acts as a kind of intense family reunion.” Pentecost is such a powerful image conveyor, of gathering together, in the Spirit.

  2. Jon R Says:

    Good stuff here. And great last line. This is not to disagree with anything you said, but simply to add another perspective. A multiplicity of denominations has existed long before our present age of dogmatic tolerance. I think we owe this phenomena largely to Luther, who famously advocated that the individual can interpret the Bible for himself without the mediation of a priest or the guidelines of the Holy See. At this moment, scriptural interpretation became entirely subjective. Naturally the argument is that we allow the Holy Spirit to interpret the Bible for us, but the Holy Spirit seems to interpret the Bible quite differently for John Hagee, Westboro Baptist, and Billy Graham. This subjectivity breeds denominations, over 25,000 in the United States alone, at last count. The only way out is either to acknowledge the legitimacy of the Holy See in the Vatican or to establish its protestant equivalent. Your comment re: theologians comes somewhat close to doing just that.

  3. masonmusic Says:

    Thanks Ry.

    and thanks Jon

    I love what you’re saying regarding Luther, subjectivity, and the Holy See, among other things. I know one of my favorite writers (who is a protestant actually) calls Luther’s advances the beginning of the “heresy called sola scriptura.” The heresy, he says, is in its implicit breakage from community.
    It is also interesting to connect this community-breakage of Luther’s time with the individualism of today which fosters a similar product: the idea that differences mean we have to go our separate ways. This option is taken instead of realizing that we have been called together by God.
    Jon: What is Benedict’s take on the re-unification of the Church, any idea?

  4. Jon R Says:

    You snagged me on a question I should know, but do not. I think (and do not take this as an authoritative answer) the press coverage of Benedict paints him as a bit more divisive than his predecessor, JP2. This is largely because of his first published book since his assumption of the papacy, which deals with the nature of Christ. Critics suggest that in writing this he was emphatically stating that all other religions which do not hold a similar view of the nature of Christ are wrong; and between the lines some have suggested this work was an attack on Islam. I have not read it myself, nor do I know much about it. Also, I do know that he opened the door for liturgical Latin to be used during mass. Although he did not REQUIRE it, some nevertheless suggest that his uncompromising pre-Vatican II colors are showing here.

    During his recent trip to the United States, his primary focus [much to everyone’s surprise] seemed to be on acknowledging the legitimacy of the claims of those who say they were abused by their priests. If we take this as our criteria, it seems that is focus could arguably be more along the lines of re-uniting the secular world to the church rather than re-unifying various denominations.

    I’m afraid that’s all I can really say.

  5. Matt Wiebe Says:

    Hey Joel

    Great thoughts here. I too think that we need some type of reunification in the church, something much deeper and Holy Spirit-driven than the ecumenicism of the 20th century. It is true that it would need to be some type of Pentecostal experience; something that is more than a meeting of church politicians and bureaucrats divorced from the lived life of the ekklesia.

    I guess we’ll have to start praying for that.

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