My friend Brian posted a response to my last blog item. This is a follow-up to that and my previous post.
I hear him - I am glad there is somewhere for me to go that aligns with my convictions. And I also hear him that there's a home for particular types/groups of people.
But, that doesn't look like unity to me.
I think my problem is that at least one of us is wrong. Perhaps about sola scriptura, perhaps about justification, perhaps about the structure of church government. And, of course, neither of us thinks we're wrong (or at least we're convinced that even if we might be partly wrong, the other is wrong-er). In matters of theology, we must strive to be right, to be as accurate as we can be and pursue the truth. After all, we worship the God who is Himself Truth. However, we clearly don't agree on what IS right in terms of Christian theology.
Now, the Church has never truly been utterly united. We see the church divided in the book of Acts over whether gentiles should be allowed in without becoming jews first. We see the church of Corinth having multiple factions and in our day probably would have split already. The Church is made up of human beings after all. But, it gives me hope that the church council in Jerusalem in fact did resolve that argument and (apparently) everyone submitted to it.
However, now that groups of Christians are so broken apart and have divergent beliefs about core issues (church government, justification, scripture, etc.), it is hard for me to see how they could be reconciled. Even in the world of relatively conservative, reformed, presbyterian denominations, there is disunity. NAPARC is an organization made of such denominations, and one of its stated goals is to promote "organic unity" among such denominations. Their minutes are a bit vague, but it seems much of their time is spent praying for each other and deciding who is and who is not in NAPARC. Those are important things, but looking through their minutes I don't see much in the way of dealing with questions like "how can denominations X and Y merge into one?" or "how do we merge denominations where one uses the 3 Forms of Unity and the other holds to the Westminster Confession?" Maybe "organic unity" doesn't mean encouraging denominations to merge.