This is a rendition of what happened this week 2,000 years ago. It is primarily taken from the Gospel according to Mark.
Many of you already know that it is my biggest desire to help reconcile the Church, by that I mean helping reconcile the Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant Christians. They all believe in the Trinity; the dual-nature of Christ, that he is fully divine and fully human, undivided in one person; his actual life, death, resurrection, and ascension into Heaven; and salvation through Him alone. Why is there so much division? Largely it is because power struggles and pride. One example of the depravity, is that one cannot overlook the Crusades (which by the way is a word which derives from bearing the Cross) and that they culminated in Christians slaughtering Christians. There are many atrocities like this on all fronts of Christian history, and it truly sucks! I am deeply saddened by Christians fighting “evil” with “evil.” It makes me want to cry.
Today, when I say that I want to help reconcile the Church I usually get one of the following responses:
1. Are you trying to bring about the apocalypse;
2. *sarcastically* Good luck! (by the way, sarcasm is meant to cut someone down, it never uplifts);
3. It will never happen; and very rarely I get the following kind of response:
4. Wow, that is really neat, I will pray with you.
I have been trying to rationalize why people, for the most part, are so “opposed” to Church reconciliation. I believe it comes down to the era we live in. We live in a post-modern world — and by post-modern I do not mean that we are post-modern because of hair-cuts and the style of clothing we have (however, these things are a reflection of post-modernity!). Please allow me to explain in a very generalized way — hopefully I am not butchering too much philosophy 🙂
In Pre-modern (everything pre-1453) times the Church essentially believed that The Church must necessarily be one. This was obvious, yet also a power struggle as can be seen through the various Bishops throughout the empire during this era. But at the end of the day, they agreed that the Church must necessarily be one. The councils affirmed this and anathematized those who did not believe in the same manner, thus holding to One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Time went on, schism happened, attempts were made to unite (perhaps more accurately, attempts were made to have more centralized power, which took on the character trait of unity…)
In Modern (1453-1945) times (note: we are not in modern times today…so contrary to what it sounds like though) the Church unknowingly admitted that Church reconciliation is impossible. In modernity, they would take a meta-narrative (I did not make up this word), essentially a mega-story that could be legitimated by claims of universal reason. This is a huge point, it had to be backed up by reason. During Modernity, the Church looked at events such as the sack of Constantinople in 1202 and attempts of reconciliation 200 years later which nearly caused the stoning of those involved, and they sealed the deal — “ok, reconciliation is impossible.” Why did they cave into this, because “reason” could not legitimate reconciliation happening.
Today, the Church holds onto a “Modern approach,” when society has clearly moved beyond Modernity. What do I mean by this?
We live in a Post-Modern (1945-today) world which is unable to believe in meta-narratives. hmmmm….that is odd. Ok, by this I mean that we live in an era in which we reject the idea that a mega-story must be legitimated by reason. We have gone beyond reason. At this point, I am sure many people are frowning, because you are probably saying that you appeal to reason on a daily basis. A lot of this was spawned by Kiekegaard’s existentialism in that we create the meaning which something has, and going even further towards that of Nietzsche’s nihilism, nothing has purpose.
Here is my claim, the Church is refusing to travel into the post-modern context because they are afraid to give up “reason.” And it is understandable, who wants to give up the last 800 years of scholasticism? The post-modern approach would say, “church [little c] reconciliation is possible.” This is the world we live in. But there is a huge fallacy in this claim — it leaves God well enough alone. It has led to bumper stickers like “coexist.” Post-modernity has given us tolerance, not love. This is not based on reason, nor scripture. Right now, “God is dead” in our Post-Modernity, thanks to Nietzsche. What is the Church to do?
The Church needs to proclaim: “Church reconciliation is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
There is no reasonable explanation behind the Church being reconciled — it is impossible! But I will boast in the fact that God can do the impossible! God tells us to pray His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven, in Heaven we are fully reconciled. His prayer in John 17 shows how much Jesus is concerned with the Church being One. May we be One, as He and the Father are One. I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that just as reconciliation with God involves confession; all parties involved will need to confess sins and seek forgiveness.
Please join me in praying for God to do the impossible. Amen.