Archive for July 23rd, 2011

Denominational Cities

There are a lot of disagreements between the various denomination in the Church, and even between various congregations within those denominations. Some congregations are non-denominational, yet they can still be as unfriendly toward other churches.

During the Reformation, countries were divided by regions. Each region could choose to be Catholic, Lutheran, or whatever else was springing up at the time (predominantly Catholic or Lutheran). About a thousand years ago, during “The Great Schism” of the Church, Eastern Orthodox churches usually were not allowed in the Western part of what was left of the Roman Empire, and Roman Catholic churches usually were not allowed in the Eastern part.

It makes one wonder: Did the various cities squabble between each other during the time of the Apostles?

Did the Roman believers say to the Corinthian or Ephesian believers “You have too much focus on sex!”

Did the Galatians say to the Colossians “You follow too many rules!”

Did the Colossians reply to the Galatians “You are changing the gospel!”

It is a historical fact that all of the major Church Councils in the first millennium A.D. came together to resolve disputes between believers, with many disagreements based in different cities.

So, did the cities and regions bicker between each other while remaining somewhat united within each city (because we know many Jews attempted to disrupt the believers)?

I read an article a few months back about Buenos Aires pastors from across the denominational spectrum finding the need for city-wide unity between churches. There are still issues, but it does demonstrate that it is possible for a city to be unified in Christ.

The real issue, I think, is that there is a lack of proper communication. When two sides come together and each is certain of its own rightness and the wrongness of the other, that is not communication. That is two sides yelling at each other. With everyone yelling, nothing can be heard.

We need to get back to patience and active listening. We need to remember how to investigate and learn. We need a paradigm shift (change our thinking).

Instead of focusing on what is wrong with other denominations and churches, we should focus on what is right, where we agree. Should we try to preserve sound doctrine? Of course! However, we should not get up in arms over something as simple as a piano bench, nor should we write off others has heretics because some believe in infant baptism or only adult baptism. I will not tell you where I stand on the baptism issue (at least not now). However, if you cannot even associate with someone because of this belief while at the same time they disagree with your definition of speaking in tongues, get over yourself. If you cannot stand to be near someone who believes human free-will plays a bigger role than you think it does, get over yourself. If you think everyone who believes in pre-destination and election is too legalistic, but you yourself refuse to listen to secular music, get over yourself. All of these go both ways!

Our problem is not disagreements over doctrine or benches or paint or friendships. Our problem is actually two-fold:

1) Pride. We get in our own way.

2) Assumptions and misunderstandings. If a man has beer cans and bottles all around his house, you might assume he is a drunkard or partier. Later, you find out he goes around collecting cans and bottles for recycling and keeps one or two from each location. See how simple it can be to misjudge a situation? We often do this within the Church.

Remember, Jesus said “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

No wonder the church suffers! We do not even show ourselves love!

To be fair, though, too many people both in and out of the Church (at least in our Western culture) rarely take the time to learn why someone thinks a certain way or acts the way they do. People in and out of the Church want things their own way.

Perhaps we could be unified cities again if we could learn patience and how to get over ourselves …