We are all now Christians of the diaspora, if Christians we be at all. In the developed nations,there is a church of some ritual brand on every street corner, many empty, most forlorn, some bustling with human activity but lacking that spiritual something. There is not to be Christian reunion any time soon, unless our Lord interrupts our schism.
What would have to happen for Christian Reunion to occur? What significance would Christian Reunion have for the Church on Earth?
- We would have to settle, or at least come to some lasting understanding, on matters of authority. A long-time baptist friend recently converted to the Orthodox branch of the Faith. His question to me on our first meeting afterward was the simple one, "Where do you get your authority?" He puts his new trust in the Imperium, after six decades of living among the people of the Book. He now believes God ordained one Church, unbroken in succession from then to now. There can be no authority, he argues, apart from that succession. We would have to settle matters of authority to reunite.
- We would have to decide on our codifying documents. For the Free Church, that is supposedly Holy Writ, the Bible. We are not a creedal people, we know, for it says so in our creed. Others depend openly on creeds, councils, synods and codified traditions set down over twenty centuries since He came and went. We would have to decide on our codifying documents.
- We would have to decide which way to face. Shall we look to the hills from which cometh our help? Are our eyes to be set on the fields white to harvest? Rome or Byzantium, what will hold our face?
- We would have to decide on rites of entry and rites of passage. Baptism, sans confirmation? Infant baptism or Believer's baptism? The Communion Table at each worship hour or from time to time?
- We would have to decide about apostasy. Do the saints persevere? What do we make of those who do not, in fact, seem to persevere?
We would need to decide if Christian Reunion is significant as a goal in an increasingly religious world. There are more religious people than ever, certainly more professing Christians than ever in this world. Apparently, in the developing nations, persons once oriented to Islam are accepting Christ in unprecedented numbers, despite the dangers inherent to conversion.
Would an increasingly religious, increasingly Christian world, benefit from Christian Reunion? Can we tear down our own Tower of Babel?
There are so many conversations going on among Christians (and with non-Christians) today. It is worth starting another conversation?
Am I to be "hard-wired" to the Religious Right? Am I to sit with the supposed naifs of the Left? Will I continue to seek solace somewhere nearer the center, there to live without the fervor of the Right or the Forgiveness of the Left?
Imagine, instead of penetrating lines, a circle, with a definite center and wide, arcing exterior surface. Suppose I orbit that center, clearly within the borders of the circle, but free in that circle to draw near first with this fellow, then with that one over there? Suppose I could do this without ever violating the borders of the circle? What if, what if, what if I could hold my own conscience, work out my own salvation with fear and trembling and never have to choose a side to the exclusion of any other side?