So They May be One…
I’m often asked, as you might guess, what’s the toughest question I get asked by atheists. My first answer is to go straight for the Problem of Evil. I think I have a pretty good answer for that one. However, the more I think about it, the more I realize the hardest question from atheists I get is the idea of Christian unity. Or rather, the lack there of and the general “meh” shoulder shrug I see in the church when this gets brought up.
Now, before we get to into this idea, let me just say, I think there is a heck of a lot more unity among Christians who confess the Nicene Creed. Way more than is advertised. Last night, we had the church discussion at our Doubt God group. Myself, a Catholic, a baptist and other various Christians at this discuss agreed about a lot more than we disagreed.
However, the fact remains that we have an ungodly amount of denominations. I have heard brother’s and sisters argue this is actually a good thing for the body of Christ. In other words, we should focus on the “church invisible” as Calvin called it.
I used to buy Calvin’s argument, but I’m not sure I’m comfortable with it anymore. I think there is some inherent gnosticism in that thinking in dividing the spiritual church from the physical church. I know that’s not what Calvin was trying to say. However, I think the way it get’s applied gets dangerously close to a dualistic way of thinking that isn’t biblical at all.
I have been doing a lot of reading on the Jewish roots of Christianity and rereading passages of the Bible. It’s stunning how much unity among believers is emphasized. This is especially true of Jesus’ prayer in the Gospel of John. He doesn’t treat Christian unity something that should be on the backburner. Indeed, He considers it a vital belief of the church and a vital pursuit of the church. Paul does the exact same thing. It’s not just the “spiritual” unity of the church, but it’s also supposed to be a physical reality.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating cheap or superficial unity. There is no way we can ignore our denominational issues. They must be addressed. But, I find the lazy ass attitude towards unity talks among Christians to be grossly unbiblical. We have to put some time and energy into this discussion. The time has come.
I’m not even sure what I’m saying in this post. Maybe my work with atheists has given me a renewed sense of urgency. Maybe that’s why it bothers me so much. Or maybe, because Jesus says it’s important and we don’t work hard enough at it. I don’t.
And that, above all things, makes me sad.