“Indeed, in nothing is the power of the Dark Lord more clearly shown than in the estrangement that divides all those who still oppose him.” J.R.R. Tolkien, “Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” (as spoken by Elf Haldir from Lothlorien)
I believe that true unity in The Church will only be found as we become one with Jesus the Christ, just as God is one. This will only happen as we value “oneness” with Christ more highly than we value our own versions of “correct theology”.
“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! … For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.” Psalms 133: 1 & 3b (NIV)“My prayer is not for them alone [the 12 disciples]. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” A prayer by Jesus as recorded in John 17: 20-21 (NIV)
Certainly, learning about God and developing our understanding of Him through scripture is important and a good thing. But unity with Christ and each other is more important than being right! The Psalmist tells us that, where there’s unity, God bestows His blessings and life eternal! From Jesus’ own prayer, we understand that “oneness” with Christ is the prerequisite to “the world” believing in Him! But if unity is ever to be achieved – “oneness” with Christ and each other – it will require us to hold less tightly to our cultural concepts of God and the emphasis on defending our own intellectual positions around the subject of God. We must hold to Him and Him alone – not our particular theologies. More easily and dangerously than many realize, theology can become an idol and this idolatry causes much disunity.
It seems to me that a great deal of Christian theology is developed with little or no consideration for the leading of the Holy Spirit and oneness with God and The Church. Theological doctrine is often developed out of a desire to be right about God rather than to be one with Him. Where there is doctrinal division and disunity, there also is a lack of oneness with Christ. Will we ever be able to celebrate “oneness” in Christ and with each other? For the answer to this question to be “Yes” and “Amen”, we must:
- turn down the volume of our own cultural “Christianity”,
- attune ourselves to the voice of His Holy Spirit,
- let go of the desire to be right about God, and
- learn from one another in our doctrinal diversity.
Perhaps then the Church will be one.