Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Ideal Church? (3)

Anglican made some thoughtful comments that I would like to reflect on ...

I don't pretend to have anywhere near as much knowledge of church history as Anglican does. However, I wonder if sometimes we notice the uniformity in the Catholic traditions and ignore their diversity while noticing the diversity within the "Bible only" traditions and ignore their uniformity.

As I see it, the Catholic traditions are certainly more uniform in the areas that are most readily apparent (i.e. liturgy, worship, etc.), but there are still many differences in such areas that are not as quickly noticeable (i.e. church polity, the definition and role of saints, clergy eligibility, etc.)

Are there as many differences in the Catholic churches as there are in Bible churches? I don't know. Probably not. However, I think the "Bible church" traditions may SEEM more divided because the areas wherein they are divergent are the most readily apparent areas (i.e. worship, liturgy, etc.) But we must keep in mind that most of these Bible churches view these areas as being matters of preference rather than matters of doctrine(COCs notwithstanding).

So the apparent uniformity of the Catholic churches does not necessarily indicate unity and the apparent differneces in the Bible churches don't necessarily indicate division.

Perhaps God uses each "brand" of Christianity to appeal to the various personalities and sensitivities within humanity. After all, some are individualistic. They find the Bible church emphasis on personal conviction derived from personal Bible study appealing, so they latch on to that emphasis and the churches wherein it is most readily found.

On the other hand, some have personalities that are more drawn to the idea of community. They are drawn to the Catholic churches' emphasis on community understanding of scripture. This is made even more appealing when the community that they are drawn to includes the historical community.

There is a beautiful tension between the equally valid biblical principles of personal and community understanding of scripture. While not mutually exclusive, they compliment each other in such a way that people with a variety of different personal preferences are able to find a community with like values.

Am I advocating unity in diversity? I think I am! I don't know how far to take these thoughts. Is each hermeneutical approach equally valid? I'm not sure, but I believe there is some truth behind each approach. Perhaps the unifying truth that should be focused on more is the Lordship of Christ.

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