Wednesday, February 20, 2008

On Unity

My friend Dylan and I were talking about idealism vs. pragmatism yesterday. Dylan leans more towards being an idealist and I lean more towards being a pragmatist. For instance Dylan believes that we should never go to war, that war is almost always wrong. I am a pragmatist, I believe that was is never desired but sometimes a necessary option. Dylan and I disagree on almost everything but because we are not that far off from each other we have awesome conversations and our friendship is never threatened by it. Also, we learn a lot from each other!

Anyway, we were talking about idealism/pragmatism as applied to church unity. The topic came up because our professor for the course we are both taking is an Anglican. The Anglican church is is the midst of schism as they splinter over the issue of homosexuality. Dylan is of the mind that we should almost always stay together with those we disagree with. He sees the wisdom and love of sitting in the tension of disagreement and upholding unity over agreement. He believes that Jesus never rejected anyone, instead those people chose to reject him. Thus, we should not reject others, even in the church. Why has the church split, then split again, and continued splintering? Because Christians aren't doing the hard work of getting along. They can't stand the tension of being with those they disagree with.

I on the other hand believe that disunity is not the end of the world. Although painful, sometimes it is necessary. Sometimes we have to just agree to disagree. Does God desire this? No. But sometimes it has to happen. Church discipline is sometimes necessary. Sometimes people need to take a stand in what they believe, stand up against injustice, or remove those who are tearing apart the community. How long should a congregation put up with a church bully or an abusive person? The bullied/abused person needs defending as much or more as the unity of the church. When is enough, enough? Paul talks about putting people outside of the church as way of discipline and in rejecting false prophets in being necessary sometimes. I agree with him.

Church leadership teams often both have pragmatists and idealists on them. This leads to tension when disagreement and disunity surface in the life of the community. I think that such tension is healthy. Both views are needed to insure that unity is neither upheld to the detriment of all or sacrificed too easily. If you look at yourself you will probably find that you lean more towards one then the other. Just don't lean so much one way that you can't recognize and appreciate the other side.

May Light increase!

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