Thursday, January 27, 2011

United We Stand

By D. Adams
September 27, 2006

Ever notice how we, as Christians, are often posited as being divided? Its interesting how this can stem from the same people that are rightly divided today in America. I am talking about the Democrats and the Republicans. I usually do not mix politics with religion simply because it is unethical in my opinion. I am merely referring to this axiom to justify a clear analogy of unity and diversity. Are Americans truly indigenous of this pendulum cognition? Whether you are a Democrat, Independent or Republican, are you still not an American? This false dichotomy (excluded middle) paints a picture that if a Christian raises an issue, such as the communion (Eucharist), we cannot be true Christians. I hope you are beginning to see the discontinuity of this mindset.

Unity and Diversity
Some say the two cannot co-exist. I suppose a more in-depth study of this can be traced throughout history in our own culture. But let us focus our agenda on today’s culture. Today some Americans choose to vote, to voice their opinion publicly, others quetch in the privacy of their own home or amongst peer groups. Some debate issues openly, others just condemn because they are not like-minded. Likewise, this modus operandi spills over into the realm of Christianity. Let’s face it no matter what we find to be true in our own mind, someone else will have a counter-argument against our way of thinking. We could also go on to mention the unity and diversity amongst the sexes, but suffice it to say man needs companionship and man also has gotta eat.

What is Unity?
John 17:22 The glory   you gave to me I have given to them, that they may be one just as we are one – 17:23 I in them and you in me – that they may be completely one,  so that the world will know that you sent me, and you have loved them just as you have loved me.

The Christian can have three functions of unity (1) Ontological Unity (2) Creedal Unity (3) Functional Unity. Before we discuss each branch of unity, let’s recognize that even Americans are divided on the interpretation of the Constitution and the Bill of rights. We have the Democratic view, the Republican view, and the Independent view. This division was the springboard for such groups as the ACLU to help keep the checks and balances. Although I cannot agree fully with the direction of the ACLU, I understand why they are in place. The same token applies to Christianity, the Reformers helped to restore a balance and a restoration to Christianity. It is noted that some Christians may disagree with that statement; however, it does not make it a false analogy in and of itself per se.

Should we oppress the Christian into a certain mold—defined by mans standards? Some Roman Catholics say that the reformation created division amongst the ranks, however it should be duly noted that the Catholic/Orthodox schism that took place in 1054AD speaks a much different story about division. Besides the division over the Eucharist, there was the division among the Filioque Clause Controversy, just to name two. Our goal, as Christians, is to find the unifying importance as to our beliefs as a whole, not the misconstrual of a handful of verses.

Ontological Unity
Despite many varying claims, the Christian will believe in God and hold a firm belief in the Deity of Christ. These are essential to the faith. The Bible assumes beforehand that man is smart enough to have a belief in God. Christ’s deity is clearly laid out throughout the NT writings. A future article on Christ’s deity will cover most of the verses used to prove this. Unless we believe that Jesus is the “ego eimi,” we would deny him. By this implication, we also deny the father, and if we deny the father, then we cannot be in his presence here or in the after.

Creedal Unity
For the most part Christians agree upon the first seven ecumenical councils. Granted there are some debates within these creedal summary statements, but we uphold to the belief in the creeds as a whole. The same can be said as in the belief in the Constitution, but no one honestly accuses another for not being an American when a disagreement arises. Yet Christians and Non-Christians perform the unacceptable equivocation error when it comes to beliefs defining the Christian, and an American. Consistency is crucial to finding truth. It’s not a fair assessment for the Non-Christian to accuse us of the very same thing they themselves are doing in political, and moral issues.

Functional Unity
This is the common goal of Christians that we share—the functional unity. These common goals include moral issues, aiding the poor and needy, fight against aids, cancer, bone marrow diseases, etc. Christians do not make the sole claim to this functional unity—however it is one thing that binds us together. It can be stated, that not all Christians share in this view of functional unity, however the Bible demands it.
(NET Bible)
Matt 25:31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 25:32 All the nations will be assembled before him, and he will separate people one from another like a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 25:33 He   will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 25:34 Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 25:35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 25:36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 25:37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 25:38 When   did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or naked and clothe you? 25:39 When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 25:40 And the king will answer them, ‘I tell you the truth, just as you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did it for me.’

25:41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels! 25:42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink. 25:43 I was a stranger and you did not receive me as a guest, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 25:44 Then they too will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not give you whatever you needed?’ 25:45 Then he will answer them, ‘I tell you the truth, just as you did not do it for one of the least of these, you did not do it for me.’ 25:46 And these will depart into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

I think many Christians have ignored this unique passage. This by definition alone does not guarantee salvation by these mere workings. A Non-Christian can perform humanitarian aid, yet still be considered good by our cultural standards. However, for the Christian, works without faith (Notitia, Assensus, and Fiducia) is not enough. [1]

I conclude that, if Americans (by definition) can have this division, yet still remain in unity and be called Americans—then Christians (by definition) can also employ this very principle. The unification effort between the Eastern Orthodox, Evangelicals, Protestants, Fundamentalists, and Roman Catholic believers is nothing new. Many valiant attempts have been made to bring these groups together in aggregated unity. I believe we can all co-exist but too many times extreme fundamentalism plays a significant role in undermining this process. Pope Benedict XVI seems to be making some efforts towards unification—however I seriously doubt if one man can control the thinking of many. Despite the Papal infallibility claimed in the Vatican Council, we all submit to one authority and that is Jesus Christ.

My harangue
Sadly, some have truly lost the true status quo that was profoundly displayed in the Gospels, and rely on mans feeble attempt to assemble religious precepts. This philosophy is not new by any means, for even the Jewish sect was guilty of this during the Intertestamental Period (e.g. Midrash). When do we set aside these differences and work towards a common goal? As for myself, I remain tactful, seeking understanding of my faith that rests in Christ’s redemptive work on the Cross. I hold the scriptures as the final authority on issues of spiritual discontinuity, salvation, and I assent to the knowledge of the scriptures.

The historical-grammatical method is of utmost concern when it comes to the true knowledge of the author’s true intent. One can reach the truth through diligent study, balanced with prayer and the work of the Holy Spirit. I hope many Christians can agree with my premise that would unite us in our faith. I do not readily expect to have unity on every issue, but I do see that we have more in common than we do in opposition when it comes to our views on Christianity and America. Once we recognize the fact that we are mere humans with the component of fallibility, we will see things on a more common ground.

May peace be with you…

1. (Notitia, Assensus, and Fiducia) these three are Knowledge, Assent, and Trust. When combined they define the doctrine of Faith Alone as by the early Reformers. The Basic principle is that the Bible is the knowledge, we assent to this knowledge, and we trust in this knowledge. We rest in Christ. In other words, despite the claims of skeptics, Christianity is not based upon blind-faith. Defining Christianity as blind-faith is a false dichotomy. The scriptures are self-attesting. God challenges other Pagan gods in the OT. He asks us to test all things; hold fast to what is good. God gives us the ability to reason—he gives us the ability to seek truth. God also give us the ability to choose our destiny.