A Christian Act

I believe strongly and instinctively that schism is not a Christian act. I have been asked to justify this belief, and I could use help fast.

Let me kick off by saying that one reason is that is one is causing schism for any other reason than over the ancient councils of the church, which will usually mean over orthodox Trinitarian belief (which I would further boil down as saying that the essence of God is love in relationship, which love God brings to us unconditionally and without our needing to will it first) If one is causing schism for any other reason one is effectively placing other things above those core and ancient beliefs.

I think a more usual argument would be that dividing the body of Christ is an inherent ill, but I suspect the person I am debating with will simply snap back that those he disagrees with have by their beliefs already left that body.

My own feeling that the American schismatics have ‘got themselves into a state’ is not going to help either. People in a state always deny that they are (as in ‘I am not upset, and I will continue to deny how upset I am until I calm down.’)

I know this blog is read by a surprising number – HELP.


2 responses to “A Christian Act

  1. The arguments are manifold. A few Biblical passages to bear in mind, to start with:

    John 13:34-35 “Everyone will know by this that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another”. (You could stop right here.)

    1Cor.12:12 “the body is one and yet has many members” – normally one continues this into discussion of unity-v-uniformity, which is eminently relevant, but this time I’d like to highlight that there is already recognition of diversity *in these few introductory words*, and what it leads into is a desire for *respect* between people of differing opinions and beliefs.

    Acts 11:1-18: see the enlightened recognition and respect for people who appear different on the surface (gentiles v Jews).

    It is that same kind of respect that leads to the “listening process”in the Anglican Communion 1900 years down the line. (The lack of uptake / ineffectiveness of that method are a different matter.)

    And now some waffle, that might or might not give characteristics to help describe your idea of “in a state”.

    My impression is that favouring schism is born of an attitude of misplaced (search for) superiority, a mistaking of personal purity (fine) for group-puritanism (off the rails), whilst neglecting the history of the church, the meaning of the word `catholic’, and the whole idea of the Church’s purpose being mission. To be clear, I’m saying that this attitude is extra-Biblical in origin; it is born of a latent selectiveness in a Sunday-morning soundbite that sees the weapons of Eph.6 and looks for an excuse to deploy them in the next week. (“State” alert.)
    I just mentioned mission; a church that is consumed by seeking some kind of in-group identity (such as an excessive search for “purity”) is not an outward-looking church but an introverted club. The problem with this is that God is not looking for an introverted club; God’s unbounded love for creation mandates that we start by looking at *all* creation, not viewing one person as greater or lesser than another, not being selective about who we let in the door or [by extrapolation] who we let wear the fancy vestments. In Peter’s terms, who are the Gentiles today and how does the Gospel treat such apparent “outsiders” other than by rolling all-embracingly over them like a tsunami, drawing them in to the full centre of the Church?

    Perhaps an easier question is to ask, how should a Christian living principles worthy of the Kingdom of God act:
    a) by having, at various times, a negative check-list “is not L/G/B/T”, “is not a tax-collector”, “is not a sinner”, “is not a woman”, … or
    b) by being aware of their alienation but exhibiting boundary-breaking tolerance, nay acceptance, nay more than that, a respect and love resulting in unexpected actual practical good deeds?
    Surely one hardly needs to name the Samaritan or his “orthopraxy” in order to see the application today!

  2. rosemaryhannah

    Thank you for this Tim. I did my best with it.

    It is of course a lost cause. But one feels the need to defend the position.

    I forget how old I am becoming. When I began to speak and write for equality for all aspects of same sex relationships, which is now more than 40 years ago, there were many who had simply not considered that gay people wanted relationships, and most thought it was simply a personal choice. You woke up one morning and thought: ‘Hum, I know, I’ll start desiring my own sex.’

    Now I am dealing with the much harder proposition of those who say: ‘Well, God just does want the most irrational things, and there is an end of it.’

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