Monday, October 16, 2006

Religion: When will we "get Christianity right"?

I don't mean for this to be an abrasive, offensive, inflammatory, degrading, derisive, disrespectful, or arrogant post. But it's going to come off that way. It's said that "the devil is in the details" (although I can't really find a source or date of origin for the phrase). I have a feeling, though, it's true in this case.

That Jesus Christ is God is the crux (no pun intended) of Christianity. Why, then, so many divisions, schisms, separations, heresies, etc.? One would hope it was not Jesus's desire to divide Christian from Christian (though he did come to divide us based on whether we believe in him, Matthew 10:34). Then can we not say the Devil has continued his toil against our salvation by pitting Christian brother against Christian brother? Is not the Devil in the details which separate one denomination from another?

I would like to see a chart that shows the geographical and chronological origins of the various denominations of Christianity; if someone could find this (online or not) I would be most grateful. As a Roman Catholic, I can't help but wonder why after the Eastern Orthodox split off, Anglicans split off, or the Lutherans split off, anyone else had to dissent to such a degree as to rally a group around themselves (excuse me, I mean: around Jesus). Why Baptist over Presbyterian? Why Methodist over Pentecostal?

What's even more astonishing is that there are new "denominations" every day, it seems, as though everyone over the past 2000 years, reformers included, have just "not gotten it". I think that by ignoring the history of Christianity, they assume it formed out of a vacuum and that the Bible showed up on their doorsteps one day with no one to explain it. The Church has always existed since Jesus told Simon Bar-Jonah, "you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church" (Matthew 16:18)... yet those few words alone have sparked fiery debate. Nevertheless, there has always been the Church, and to think that it went so off track so early in its existence speaks very poorly of the will of God and His promise to us: "I am with you always, until the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20). This was an echo of what the Spirit said through the prophets:
  • Though the mountains leave their place and the hills be shaken, My love shall never leave you nor my covenant of peace be shaken, says the LORD, who has mercy on you. (Isaiah 54:10)
  • This is the covenant with them which I myself have made, says the LORD: My spirit which is upon you and my words that I have put into your mouth Shall never leave your mouth, nor the mouths of your children Nor the mouths of your children's children from now on and forever, says the LORD. (Isaiah 59:21)
  • One heart and one way I will give them, that they may fear me always, to their own good and that of their children after them. I will make with them an eternal covenant, never to cease doing good to them; into their hearts I will put the fear of me, that they may never depart from me. (Jeremiah 32:39-40)
For the sake of ecumenicalism, I won't continue my questions for non-Catholics, but I will end with this final question for all Christians: what would it take to unite Christians into a single church, the Ancient Church that was founded by Jesus during his ministry, a truly catholic (universal) church?


preacherman said...

I think it would take grace, love and undestanding that Chrisitianity is about Christ. As Paul said, it is no longer I but Christ. I think that is what Christians stuggle with the most. You hear Chrisitans saying, "I think...I feel...I want it this way...I, I, I...Instead of Christ. What if every Christian asked: What does Christ want, think, feel about such and such." What if every Christian sought to seek to do God's will instead of their own. And above all things love. I believe that Love is the center of Christianity. Without Love everything that we do as Christians means nothing 1 Cor 12 & 13, Romans 13, the entire book of 1st John rings out that message. Love is a must. Jesus said, "All men will know you are my disciples if you love one another."

Great post.
I enjoy reading your blog.
And thank you for adding to the discussions on my blog your thoughts are welcomed anytime.

Jeffrey Pinyan said...

preacherman: What if every Christian sought to seek to do God's will instead of their own.

First of all, thanks for your comment here, and for your blog as well. You have an amazing story and a powerful faith.

This has been my latest "complaint" with some Christians I've been in conversation with lately. They are fine with attributing everything that happens to "God's will". I think that will end up breeding a sense of non-responsibility in their lives. Jesus didn't tell us to "go, and watch me make disciples of all the nations", he told us to do it.

What I mean is, when we choose our wills over what we know is the will of God, we are disobeying Him. I'd much rather do God's will than assume whatever it is I'm doing now is God's will.

Josh said...

This may help. The charts didn't give me exactly what I was looking for, but it was a step in finding it:

Good Post... I with the church were more united.

Josh said...

So many people confuse Christianity with Christ and walk away from them both.

Laymond said...

You ask what would it take? First it takes love, love of God, love of Christ and love of our fellow man. Second it takes knowledge, not absolute knowledge of God, that will not be attained here. knowledge that we are all trying to attain the same goal, Be presented into the presents of GOD by his holy son Jesus. I know there is but one road to GOD the father; that is through Christ the son. But if you can please tell me where in the bible it is written there is but one road to Jesus Christ the son. One road to belief one road to repentance one road to baptism and one road to acceptance into Christ's Church. I have never found it. when we start on a journey, we have to start from where we are. May God Bless

Larry said...

Good to see another post by someone interested in uniting Christians.

The names may be different over the church doors, but those who worship God still constitute the one body.

I agree with Carl Ketcherside that there can be unity in diversity. We can have brothers and sisters that don't share every detail of our belief system.

Where two or three believers are gathered together to worship God a church (group of Christians) is recognized by God, and I don't consider them a division from the Lord's one body in general, but a viable acceptable church every bit as acceptable as the "big name" church groups.

We cause divisions in the Lord's body when we demand that others accept as absolute truth our personal opinions and either drive them away, or they leave and start another group.

Josh said...

I'm reminded of a local pastor who spoke at our church, when we had a community wide service. There were many different people from different denominations all worshipping together under one roof. It was beautiful.

The pastor said, "When I count to three, say out loud the name of the church you are from."

We did.

Then the pastor said, "Now when I count to three, say the name of the man who died on the cross for your sins."

That's what it's all about, isn't it? Good post.

Chance said...

Larry, I think you make good points. The key to unity is not all of us believing the same thing, but accepting the fact that we do believe different things but realizing we are all part of the same body.

Now, this gets a little bit tricky in practice, because it is then an issue of who actually is a Christian. But, if we focus on Jesus Christ and realize that those who focus on Christ are part of the same body, this issue seems to resolve itself. In other words, those who believe in Jesus Christ as their savior are part of the same body.

Weekend Fisher said...

From a practical standpoint, if the RC church ever said, "What was sufficient to believe in as the one true faith AD 350 is still sufficient to believe in as the one true faith today" that would do it for me. I can see how further beliefs can be permissible in addition to the faith once given, but I cannot see how further beliefs can be mandatory in addition to the faith once given.