Saturday, March 3, 2018
Split. . .
Rome has already created structures to support the various sides in the dispute. There are societies and confraternities designed to give support and cover for either side just in case either of the sides gains ascendance. There are bloggers and newsletters to make their positions clear. There are books and publishers to make sure their voices are heard. They are in communion but they are clearly at odds with one another.
Perhaps it is not only Rome that finds itself in this boat. There are conservative voices in many Christian denominations fighting against liberalism, progressivism, relativism, and all the other isms that remain skeptical about Scripture and orthodoxy in their pursuit of the church of now. Lord knows, nearly every Christian jurisdiction has become a battleground against those who follow the will, desires, and opinions of culture and those who stop somewhere before that (whether a decade ago or a millennium). There are liberal voices in those same churches intent upon pursuing an agenda to support a changing truth and an evolving sexual ethic as the primary form which the Gospel takes today (as well as everything from justice to climate change). In between are little communities trying to remain aloof from all the disputes yet they cannot be complete immune from the tensions as the structures of their churches seem to cave in the face of a progressive vision that is unrelenting.
The question is this. Is it possible to rein in the fringes and restore unity in doctrine and uniformity in practice in any way that restores integrity to a church body? I write this from the vantage point of a church body that fought the battle for the Bible and seemingly won, only to have had division and diversion ever since. Are we already split? Is Rome already split? Are those Christian denominations that were once bastions of their confessional identity already split? Is there every hope for a day when the various forces will come together and find a common voice, give that voice to a common confession, and practice consistent with that confession? I do not know. I wish I did. I have hope that the proverbial genie is not out of the bottle, never to return again. I have hope that the distance and divergence so clearly evident in nearly every Christian communion can be reconciled and reunited. . . but. . . there remains the distinct possibility that these churches are all so divided and split as to make this an impossible dream and a doomed hope. Can Rome be united? Can Missouri? Will there be a day when all parties will converge together or is that a foolish wish?
I know what I pray for and what I fear. . . perhaps, you make the same petition and live within the same angst about the future. It is a question worth asking. Are we already split even though the warring groups claim allegiance to the same structures and insist that they are the authentic voice of their tradition?