Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Schism

I used to be worried about schismatic Christians, it was stressful to think about Christians being divided, starting new groups and arguing about theology. However I've realised the following:
  • Conflict as an activity or state isn't sin, however it may be used for sinful purposes or ends.
  • Everyone schisms, for example the secular communist movement has seen splits based on geography, nationality, personality, tactics and ideology.
  • Not all externally unified organisations are happy, for example the incredibly broad umbrella that is the Roman Catholic church isn't a shiny example of unity.
  • The Kingdom of God is 'now but not yet' breaking into this world but it'll always be incomplete which means the Church won't be perfect and unified until the end of history.
All this doesn't mean I don't think unity isn't a good thing to strive for but I no longer stress about schisms in the church. This quote from Spurgeon about people leaving his church to follow new ideas elsewhere was encouraging.

"This is the Lord's way of delivering those who keep his word: thus he shuts them away from the temptation that comes upon others. He seems to say, "Dear child, since you will not go beyond my written word, you shall not be tempted to go beyond it. I will cause the enemies of the truth to leave you alone. You shall be offensive to them, or they to you, and you shall soon part company."

(h/t Pyromaniacs)

6 comments:

Swil said...

I worry a lot more about Christians who always agree than Christians who debate everything.

Luke said...

Thanks for dropping by Swilster.

You know I think we had a unique culture of debate and discussion back in the old days of Margate, it's a legacy that's stood me in good stead here at College.

The Borg said...

I think your observations are apt and important and we should in some sense recognize disagreement as argument within the family. At a very deep level we should all recognize that we 'see through a glass darkly' - humility - but not humility that is compromising and debilitating: The other side of the tension/paradox we are called to is that we must sally forth valiantly in confidence of the understanding God has given us.

ish said...

Ooops. The above comments are mine. I did not realized the Borg was still logged on to this computer. I expect she might agree with me. :-)

Radagast said...

There is a benefit to a *formal* schism, in that it allows an articulation of points of difference, and of common ground.

It's not as good as unity, but better than lots of fighting inside the house...

Laura said...

I don't know if I like the use of the word "schism" seeing as schismatics are pretty explicitly condemned in Scripture, BUT I take your point and it's a fair one.

I would add that the stylistic diversity of the Body (itself the cause of many "schisms") is both a picture of the Age to come and of the beauty of God's diverse creation.

I had to take a hard look at unity and whether or not external unity defines the True Church when a friend was struggling recently with the claims of the Orthodox Church. This is one of their biggest arguments and it's terribly convincing on the surface.