The reason the western world – and perhaps the entire world – is in such turmoil with regard to immigration, refugees and what to do with seekers of asylum is all the fault of the Christian Church.
That is not an exact quote; but it does accurately reflect the opinion of Dr. John Armstrong, an ordained minister of the Reformed Church and an active and articulate proponent of Christian unity. And his comment got me thinking … Is there any way in which that is remotely true?
Inquisitions and reformations, royal divorces, power struggles and arrogance – they all figure in to the violence that continues to reinforce denominational cracks in the foundation of the Church. “Living stones” – that is how Peter thinks of the followers of Jesus. Riffing off a line from the prophet Isaiah (28:16), Peter envisions a building that is made of spiritual stuff rather than bricks, mortar or gold. If the Church were “one”, would the Ireland of North and South have experienced the turmoil and bloodshed that are part of its history?
Dr. Armstrong says the church is “before culture; above culture; beyond culture.” Put another way, Christianity is “multi-cultural, multi-ethnic.” That Christians are incapable or just unwilling to live into this reality is the cause for continued strife, spiritual and political.
January 18-25, 2018 is the “Week of Prayer for Christian Unity”. Diverse in our expressions of worship, will the day ever come when we celebrate as Christians the gift Jesus has given us – that the foundation of our faith has many patterns, all of them beautiful, all of them reaching up in praise and gratitude to the One constantly reaching out to take our hand?
When we pray in the name of the Trinity, writes Fulgentius of Ruspe in the early sixth century, “we commemorate the natural unity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”
May our church leaders be dedicated more to building the foundation of unity than the walls of division.