Friday, November 21, 2008

Peering Into the Obvious

Perhaps it's a bit of an intellectual smugness that pushes me to laugh when I see church factions concerned about divisions within the body. It's a bit of a global contradiction to lament divisions while holding on to titles like Reformed, or Catholic, etc. Still, that's just what's happening.

"The head of the world’s largest group of Reformed churches says that the body of Christ is rendering its own peace message ineffective because of internal divisions and strife at a time when persistent threats to global peace and security make the quest for Christian unity more urgent than ever."

I think those "internal divisions and strife" have been documented from time immemorial, actually. And any time those divisions exist they are an inconvenience to the Church's message, not just now when so many things are going belly up in the world. And since when did the Church hinge its desire for unity on the global events surrounding it? Perhaps such a misapprehension of the Christocentric ontology of the Church is one of the many things causing the divisions experienced in the world today.

Said Setri Nyomi, the General Secretary of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (*sigh...*) :

“Does the church have a moral voice or credibility when our divisions are so visible?”

Why, yes, actually. Is there even a need to ask that question? Questions like that simply smack of a false humility that doesn't actually connect with the issue it's trying to address. It's feely rhetoric tickling the ears of the undiscerning. And frankly, I find it insulting.

M. Nyomi, have you missed the basic point in your ascendency to the General Secretary's seat that the Church's moral voice is not posited on the perfection of our efforts to appear in any certain way to the world? The Church's moral voice and credibility is not based in our paltry and petty shortcomings. It is, in fact, a voice given from the holy, triune God who lived and died for His people in the person of Christ. That's where the moral voice and credibility of the Church comes from; not our efforts at maintaining a clean slate before the world. As if the world were in a rightful, authoritative, or even purer place to criticize, anyway!

Carrying on with his impassioned (?) plea, Nyomi foibles and fumbles into more of the same soft imperceptions:

“'How can churches and church bodies foster world peace, peace among nations and peace within nations, when there is no peace among themselves, or when injustices that are so much at the heart of conflicts in the world are also found among us?' Nyomi said that the church’s ability to speak credibly and prophetically on issues of peace and justice was at stake if it failed to reconcile its differences."

Well, Nyomi, as much as you might be adverse to thinking so, life is messy. There's a whole lot of 'stuff' the Church, despite its inter-belligerent faults, can do, and is currently doing. Let's not discount effort based on failure. That's just another failure, sir, and you're spearheading that shortsightedness right now.

But more, Nyomi, one of the credible and prophetic realities of the Church is that its failings do not equal an inability to address essential realities such as peace and justice. Or to put it more anecdotally, sir, when I lose my balance, I'm not then unable to address realities such as, say, gravity. Get the point? Good.

“'If we are not united, we are breaking with the Lord of the church, and we are making it difficult for the world to believe,' he said, reminding delegates of Christ’s prayer that his followers would become one."

Yes, you're right: we can't achieve the eschatological ends of the Church previous to God's timing. And I think the disbelief of the rest of the world is based simply on that -- disbelief -- moreso than a messy Church with messy people doing stupid things now-and-then.

Anyway, I can't say I'd like to continue deconstructing Ms. Gold's articles, and Nyomi's overarching and ill-considered comments. So I won't. It's not all bad. It's mostly just political naivety mixed with sophmoric theology rooted in worldly hopes. Poor form.


suneal said...

Chris, you said this;

"Perhaps such a misapprehension of the Christocentric ontology of the Church is one of the many things causing the divisions experienced in the world today."

Nyomi said this:

“'If we are not united, we are breaking with the Lord of the church, and we are making it difficult for the world to believe,'"

It sounds like Nyomi is guilty of exactly your point, for if we are united one in the Spirit of Christ and nothing can separate us from his love, then why talk in such non-Christocentric ontological terms as "breaking from the Lord"?

So, here is the question for you, why Chris, aren't YOU leading the summit for unity?

Christopher said...


Because I'm not called to that kind of leadership, and would probably, because of my thick brace of character flaws, cause more damage than health.

suneal said...

Maybe, but I liked complimenting you all the same:)

From my perspective, with a few twinges by God on your character, you'd be much better material for such a task.

By the way my post above hints at what you and I all need, some "raphah-ing."


Christopher said...


Thank you for your compliment. And I agree that I need to be still. I just don't know how to do that.

suneal said...

I wish I knew Hebrew, because I am pretty positive the word for still in Psalm 46, which derives from the word "rapha," shows an incredible connection between the idea of "stillness" and healing. Exodus 15:26, wherein God gives one of His Jehovah names, "Jehovah-Rapha," is somehow linked to this word "raphah" in Psalm 46. Do you remember the little chorus of the song "Be still and know," has a second verse "I am the LORD, that healeth thee...?"

Just suggesting this as part of the key to knowing firstly what it means. To be weak, and come to him in that weakness, in our sickness, spiritually or otherwise, and learning to dwell in His Presence in that "slackened, relaxed, still" spirit, prayerfully; I believe can lead to experiencing God's healing in various ways in our lives. It is definitely about the spiritual rest Jesus promised to all who come to Him as we center on Christ(Matthew 11:28-30).