07 April 2006

newbigin on christian unity

newbigin on christian unity

In his book The Reunion of the Church, Reformed theologian, missiologist, and ecumenist Lesslie Newbigin explains and defends the remarkable convergence of Anglican, Methodist, Congregationalist, Presbyterian, and Reformed communions that became the Church of South India. Newbigin writes:
It is common to hear churchmen speak as though they did not really regard Christian unity as a serious question this side of the End. This is a disastrous illusion. Christians cannot behave as though time were unreal. God gives us time, but not an infinite amount of time. It is His purpose that the Gospel should be preached to all nations, and that all men should be brought into one family in Jesus Christ. His purpose looks to a real End, and therefore requires of us real decisions. If we misconstrue His patience, and think that there is an infinity of time for debate while we perpetuate before the world the scandal of our dismemberment of the Body of Christ, we deceive ourselves. In an issue regarding the doing of the will of God there is no final neutrality.

Strongs words. And, if he is correct, an important reminder.

Let's remind ourselves then of the Gospel: When we encounter the follower of Christ with whom we disagree or whose doctrine is different, "This too is my brother." When we hear of the minister who embarasses us or church member who is scandalous, "Jesus ate with publicans and sinners." When we are abused or attacked by a fellow Christian, "This is one for whom Christ also died."

Unless we can swallow our pride, give up our presumptions to always being right, and bear with each other in patience, the vocation of Christian unity will languish. I confess I'm not very good at these things oftimes, but I know our Lord continues to intercede on my and our behalf, "Ut unum sint."