“…walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” (Ephesians 4:1-6)
A while back a missionary came to our church. One of the things he spoke about was division in the church. The divide weighed heavily upon him, and he pleaded for the pursuit of unity. I thought to what divide is he referring? Not long after, a famous Christian pastor/singer shared a similar message in an Internet video. Again, I thought what divide is he referencing? Of course, both these faithful and honorable men were speaking in the light of the scripture above – endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit and the Body. Yes, we certainly want unity, but if we are to understand what unites us, should we also understand what divides us? What is the real divide in the church?
In the 16th century, the Protestant Reformation, led by Martin Luther, brought a major division with “The Five Solae of the Protestant Reformation”. One of these is “sola Scriptura” (by scripture alone). This camp believed Scripture is authoritative over all other governing authorities in Christian life and devotion. Others stayed in the position that sacred traditions and the hierarchy of the Church held equal sway with God’s Word. Almost five hundred years have passed, and this divide remains. There is nothing that suggests this will change until the Lord returns. Nevertheless, there is some commonality between the two communities including worship of the triune God, belief in the incarnation, the divinity of Christ, morality, and cooperation on social issues. Still, as mentioned, there is a pretty fair sized chasm, but is this the real divide in the church?
The Protestant Reformation placed the Holy Script in its proper place and brought the church back to more of a resemblance to the early church as seen in the New Testament. But as is always the case with errant man, many different approaches and ways of thinking and understanding the Bible caused cracks all through the church, leading to a plethora of denominations. With these, one thing we see is a divide manifested in methods of interpreting scripture. One example is Covenant/ Replacement Theology versus Dispensational Theology. Another is the Calvinist/ Arminian, and all points in between, fissure in the Church. These are significant divides, but is this the real divide in the church?
Next time doctrinal divides and more.