Is unity among Christians possible outside of the RCC?

I am an evangelical. I am not trying to sell you on my particular take on how things work.

I just wanted to post the question to you all. Hopefully some will recognize that Christianity has become somewhat of a disjointed mess of… We seem to have cordoned ourselves into groups that say, " I am going to heaven and you are going to hell."…

Much in the way a child says… “nah,nah,na,boo,boo”

What’s that all about anyways?

Is there a bigger picture that we all seem to missing?

What do you think?

Mudcat

I believe God’s Plan was 1 Shepherd, 1 Flock. The Gates of Hell shall not prevail against His Church. Christ’s Church was built upon Peter, the Rock.

All the other (thousands of) christian denominations have the same goal-but they are in their own boat, and not on the ship. Some schisms are being mended, it looks like, and whole churches are working on coming back on board.

What do you see happening?

+Peace Be With You.
-Dawn

In answer to your original question, no I don’t think complete pan-Protestant unity is possible, thoug some stabs have been made at it in the Ecmenical Movement,things like the Methodist church merging with the United Brethren in the United Methodist church, the recognising of Orders and Sacraments between the Episcopal and ELCA Lutheran churches, and best of all the combing to two differing theologies Lutheran and Cavinist-Reformed in hte United Church of Christ.

But those uniting churches are Main-Line relatively “liberal” churches.

The story with the evangelical/fundamental churches will be very different. Before I became Catholic I was in the “church of Christ” and they will not bend at all, even though ironically they say they were formed to bring unity to all Christians their path to unity is for everyone to abandon their original churches of birth and just join them, that way everyone will be united. And the proselytizing is bad too (which is very different from Evangelising).

The church of Christers and Baptists are still fighting like mad, stealing each other’s sheep.

The more conservative churches seem to be stuck and only interested in uniting on their own terms.

For example the hyper-conservative Lutheran Church Missouri Synod will not even give other Lutherans Holy Communion, not to mention anyone else.

I think the differences between just Protestants are insurmountable. I mean their are major differences. Holy Communion weekly against totally symbolic “Lord’s Supper” four times a year, Calvinism as opposed to Armianism, Baptism of small chidren VS beleivers baptism and only by submersion.

I think the differences are too vast to expect even Protestant unity.

Well, the Orthodox communions seem to do okay among themselves (at least from this outsider’s point of view), though I suppose at least some of them do have a Pope (e.g., HH Pope Shenouda III, the Coptic Pope), and the Chalcedonian and non-Chalcedonian churches are not generally in communion with one another (I wonder sometimes, though, as I know several Eritreans who go to the local OCA parish around here).

So, uh…yes, sort of? :shrug:

Anything is possible. The Anglicans have formed a new province, the ACNA, and the leader of the OCA (Orthodox Church in America), Metropolitan Jonah, attended the Anglican kick-off convention with open arms wanting to have intercommunion and sharing of orders between these two entities. Of course the Anglicans are called to completely end women’s ordination in all areas of the new province, destroy any vestiges of Calvinism, drop the filioque, etc. so this would be a challenge to say the least! But it does show that groups are uniting without inviting Rome into the conversation.

I see the conservative groups over time uniting who have common values and the liberal, leftist, haywire goofball churches will do the same. The liberal Episcopalians, ECLA Lutherans, and some liberal United Church of Christ and Methodists are dying on the vine attendance-wise and money-wise so they’ll need to unite or perish in their parishes! lol

Not completely. Complete unity would mean one church. If there will be one Church, it will be the one Christ promised to preserve.

uh, I don’t know about intercommunion between ACNA and OCA, at least so soon. They’d have to correct many issues, and of course the whole apostolic succession issue.

Hey Mudcat,

I didn’t have time to read the answers. Have you been asked, “What kind of unity?” Are you talking about going to the same visible church, under the same rules of discipline, teaching the same things? A unity that excludes the bishop of Rome seems impossible to call “unity among Christians”, therefore, it seems difficult to imagine unity among Christians apart from the Roman Catholic Church and the pope as the vicar of Christ.

By the way, good seeing you!

Regards,

Rory, aka Propane Boy

To Mudcat

In his book “Fundamentals of the Faith”, Dr. Peter Kreeft has an interesting chapter (#46) about reuniting the Church.

Can there be unity? Yes. How will it happen? God will enlighten good men and women on both sides.

Hey Mudcat.
Brilliant question:)

The answer is that the Spirit will create the Unity. We have to consent to letting God make in us a willing heart. As a Catholic who gets around I have talked to many kinds of Christians from different churches. Many, Catholics and Evangelicals alike, fall into the same trap: namely they want the other to either come in or go out. they create criteria… like: throw out the Pope, then you will be one with us, or accept the Pope, then you will be one with us.
We all need to come into the other, like Christ has come into us, He in the Father and the Father in Him. that is why humility is the first step.
To think we can create unity of doctrine by ourselves is too naive. What we can and should do however, is come together and pray and worship and beg God for His mercy on His torn Body, asking His forgiveness for our divisions…
In this we should stand together always, realising God does not have favourites.
I am not saying there is no right and wrong. We are foolish if we turn away from the voice of our conscience and actual beliefs in order to please human beings. God does not want us to compromise in false ecumenism.
I have always experienced a two step latter to the beginning of understanding:

  • Having a personal relationship with Christ
  • Admitting/admiring that the Spirit is also present in the other Christian, guiding him and his congregation etc.
    Then the first step is made… because where the Spirit of the Lord is there is Freedom, there is safety etc.

We all need to learn from one another. I have been blessed through my many hours spent at different churches… But oh the amount of fear and misunderstandings I have encountered…
Peace.

Hi Dawn,

I really don’t know, I would just be speculating. Christianity in the USA seems to be on the same downward spiral that it is in Europe. I believe the Gospel is being muzzled, because it is being diluted and inundated with secularism. However, the Global South seems to be experiencing a great deal of growth in Christianity.

Regards,

Mudcat

Perhaps it’s just because I look at this historically and can see how drastically this attitude has declined over time, but I really see very little of that today. I would actually be much more patient with the fact of division if most of the divided groups believed that outsiders were going to hell. (I think that such an attitude is reprehensible, but if it were true it would justify division.) What is utterly indefensible is willfully remaining separate from people whom you recognize as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Perhaps you could list some of the churches where you have heard it claimed that all outsiders are going to hell. I have found such sentiments to be vanishingly rare.

In answer to your main question: no, I do not think that any meaningful “Christian unity” is possible without the participation of the bishop of Rome.

In Christ,

Edwin

Rory! Good to see you to!!

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised to find you on a Catholic forum.

To answer your question Rory, I think that unification in regards to the exact same doctrines and beliefs among all people who feel they sincerely taken the name of Christ is quite unlikely. Once a group has assumed autonomy, it is a very difficult thing for that autonomy to be yielded up.

I suppose if some sort of unity were to occur, it would be in a much broader sense of the word. It seems all Christian faiths share a love for Christ, an adherence to follow his teachings and a concern for those who have not heard his Gospel. It is my hope that one day all Christians can at least unite under what I would term as some very basic understandings that we share as Christians.

I think the first step in that process, is to recognize the fact that we do share these things, that they don’t just belong to one group of Christians. If we could at least come to that point, then the worst outcome would be a more peaceful relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ of various Christian walks. Perhaps then we wouldn’t focus near as much of our missionary efforts into saving the saved, who happened to get saved somewhere else and put those resources towards those who do not know Christ.

Just a thought.

Your Bud,

Mudcat

I agree, I think. Could you expound on that a bit (emphasis mine).

Perhaps you could list some of the churches where you have heard it claimed that all outsiders are going to hell. I have found such sentiments to be vanishingly rare.

There are a few, Oneness Pentecostals and The Church of Christ come to mind. Baptist are willing to include some and exclude others. Just about all of them seem to leave the LDS and JW’s out in the cold (or heat depending on how you look at that).

In answer to your main question: no, I do not think that any meaningful “Christian unity” is possible without the participation of the bishop of Rome.

In Christ,

Edwin

Thanks for your thoughts Edwin.

Regards,

Mudcat

Great Post GraceDK. In many ways I feel similarly.

Thank for such a well articulated statement.

Regards,

Mudcat

Why do you not want unity with Catholics?

God bless

I don’t know how to make it clearer. We are called to be in unity with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We can’t ignore each other. My problem with contemporary denominationalism is not that people condemn each other (they mostly don’t) but that they ignore each other. You have your flavor, I have mine. That’s completely antithetical to our identity as the Body of Christ. I can respect people who condemn others, because they are sincere although misguided. It’s hard for me to respect this “live and let live” attitude, because it seems like a craven capitulation to our consumerist culture.

There are a few, Oneness Pentecostals and The Church of Christ come to mind. Baptist are willing to include some and exclude others.

Exactly. Even the Landmark Baptists just say that non-Baptist churches are not true churches. They don’t deny that there are true believers in those churches. I have relatively little experience with the “a capella” Church of Christ folks, but I believe that even the strict ones only claim that people not immersed are going to hell. And the edges these days blur. I know folks who were “four C’s” (instrument-using) originally (I went to a “CCCC” college) but attended a “two C’s” (non-instrumental Church of Christ) church in Durham. I’m pretty sure that they didn’t believe in the exclusivist version of Campbellite doctrine.

Edwin

every time a thread like this comes up all I can think of is…

And Jesus knowing their thoughts, said to them: Every kingdom divided against itself shall be made desolate: and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand. Matt 12:25

Sorry Roman Catholic, I suppose the wording of my initial question was a bit fuzzy. I did not mean that I did not want unity on some level with Catholics. Though, I can see how you drew your conclusions from it.

A more longwinded and accurate way of asking it would be.

As a Catholic, do you feel it is possible that even if other Christian faiths don’t unite with the RCC on all things, that there will come a time when we can at least unite as fellow Christians? If so, how do you think that could occur?

Hope that makes more sense RC, sorry for the confusion.

As an evangelical you already have unity on some level with Catholics. Why would you not want complete unity though? This is what I don’t understand. Christ prayed that we would all be one so that the world would know that He was sent by the Father. He didn’t pray for “some unity” but for complete unity. This should be our desire. We should all be open to His will and not settle for “some” unity but complete.

As a Catholic, do you feel it is possible that even if other Christian faiths don’t unite with the RCC on all things, that there will come a time when we can at least unite as fellow Christians? If so, how do you think that could occur?

Protestants have some unity. I would even go so far as to say they have a great deal of unity. The question is; do they have the unity which our Lord prays for in John 17?

I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me. Jn 17:20-23

God bless you

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