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How the Unity We Have in Christ Spreads To All Areas

Posted by Remy on December 16, 2009

“Feed my sheep” does not mean “Be fed by my shepherd”.

Roman, Orthodox, and sectarian protestants hinge doctrinal unity on intellectual assent. Biblically, table fellowship is first not last.

ERH writes about the three epochs of Christianity, the first epoch is the Unity of God is spread, God defeating the plurality of gods, the second epoch is the Unity of the World, where the world is connected together, and the third stage is the Unity of Man, in which race and class are no longer divisive.  We are in the last stages of the second epoch, entering the third.

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12 Responses to “How the Unity We Have in Christ Spreads To All Areas”

  1. Matthew N. Petersen said

    You may be right that Orthodox and Catholics are wrongly divisive, I won’t dispute that, but it is a mischaracterization of them to say they think unity hinges on doctrinal unity or intellectual assent. Sectarian Protestants do think that, at least to some degree, but Orthodox and Catholics believe in hinges on the episcopacy. This may be equally problematic, but it isn’t a rationalistic.

  2. Remy said

    I think any Eucharistic division that isn’t on the basis of who is in Christ is rationalistic.

  3. Matthew N. Petersen said

    You’re just playing games with language.

  4. Remy said

    Yes and you are my teammate. I’m better on the drive and pass, but you excel on the lay up.

  5. Matthew N. Petersen said

    Yes, you like saying that. But you’ve never shown it to be true. On the other hand, you switched from saying “Roman, Orthodox, and sectarian protestants hinge doctrinal unity on intellectual assent.” To “I think any Eucharistic division that isn’t on the basis of who is in Christ is rationalistic.” Perhaps its rationalistic, but it isn’t “hinging doctrinal unity on intellectual assent.”

  6. Remy said

    No, I stated it differently. You switched from saying “This may be equally problematic, but it isn’t a rationalistic.” to “Perhaps its rationalistic”.

    Every single discussion on unity with these people has ended with “submit to Pope/Orthodox polity/Westminster Confession”. So you aren’t a full member/1st class member/true member of Christ until you assent to this. To me -and there are probably better ways to put this- that’s rationalistic.

    But doctrinal unity will only be achieved when we sit together at the Lord’s table and eat.

  7. Matthew N. Petersen said

    Ok. In context I was using “rationalistic” for “hinge doctrinal doctrinal unity on intellectual assent.” There isn’t an adjective for that, unless you want to use “rationalistic.

    There’s a fundamental difference between “submit to the doctrines of Westminster or Augsburg” and “submit to the bishop.”

    But also, be fair to your own side too. You have an open table, but you have a self-selecting membership. Chances are very strongly against someone who strongly believes in say prayers to the saints, or even consubstantiation joining your church, and if one did join, in a very real sense he would be a second class citizen. Trust me, I know. Not that anyone tries to marginalize me, but it’s not like Jordan or Meyers are terribly friendly to my viewpoint, even when I make it quite charitably. And I didn’t say anything that should be very controversial. Not like one could have.

    Sure, they could be accepted, but their views would be marginalized, and not heard. And the general community would not accept them for their views, but in spite of their views, and if they aren’t too disruptive.

  8. Remy said

    “Chances are very strongly against someone who strongly believes in say prayers to the saints, or even consubstantiation joining your church, and if one did join, in a very real sense he would be a second class citizen.”

    Absolutely untrue. Of course, the likelihood of someone who “strongly” believes that worship include prayers to the saints would come to our church is zero. Consubstantiation/transubstantiation/memorialism is nothing at all to break fellowship over. People would care more about whether they voted for Obama than how they do the math on the blueprints of the Eucharist.

    Also, Meyers and Jordan don’t understand your viewpoint. It’s only because I went to the mat with you that I know what you mean and I think it’s a very very silly point. But I’ve made my case for that.

    Submitting to the bishop would be fine, that’s not the rub. The rub would be submitting to extra-Biblical standards (to say nothing of unBiblical) be they standards from Westminster or Magisterium.

  9. Matthew N. Petersen said

    “People would care more about whether they voted for Obama than how they do the math on the blueprints of the Eucharist.”

    Really? You have Lutherans at Auburn Avenue? You can say “yeah, I’d be happy with Lutherans.” But that is distinctly different from “Lutherans would be happy with us.” Unless the issue is never talked about, or people were very careful to be open, a Lutheran would feel, in a number of ways, like an outsider. He may be able to put that aside, but that would be only because doctrinal unity on other points. The CREC is a relatively doctrinally monochrome denomination. In this it is not different from any other Protestant denomination, except perhaps the liberal ones and the Anglicans. But it’s just silly to poke at others from being monochrome. You are too.

    I don’t mean that such a person would be excluded from the table or anything like that. But he would be an outsider. And outsiders are second class citizens. How often would his voice be heard? How easy would it be for him to find a family? To minister in the church?

    Yes, I know Jordan and Meyers didn’t understand what I was saying. They never really tried though. You ask probing questions if you don’t understand, you don’t lambaste someone. If I had been at dinner at either of their houses and that point had come up I would have felt attacked. You can say things to people in the majority, or with a significant minority that you cannot say to people who stand alone. Heck, if someone were at a CREC church and believed in the perpetual virginity, the original posts would have made him feel like an outsider.

  10. Remy said

    Your outsider language is teen sentiment writ large. The second class citizen I’m talking about is institutional in the Roman and EO church. If you do not ascribe to certain extra-Biblical things you are anathema (though the record differs on whether those anathemas are still binding). The outsider you mention is the “nobody understands me or gets me in this way” that everybody deals with. For you to equate the two is dishonest.

    As for your interactions on the BH blog, I’m sorry your feelings were hurt, but the internet isn’t table talk. We can complain about the medium, but I think we need to recognize its limitations as well.

  11. Matthew N. Petersen said

    Well I’m not bothered by BH, (though I wasn’t the one not being careful about the medium).

    My point isn’t sentimental, or that no one will get such a person. My point is more that such a person will be, in significant ways, like someone wearing a Yankees cap in Fenway. In a strictly technical sense, he is a member of the crowd. But he really isn’t. Similarly here. I’m sure no one would attempt to make him feel out of place, but the normal societal pressures would remain, and he would be an outsider.

    Also, I’m not sure you’re correct at all about the Orthodox. The Orthodox problem with Protestants isn’t in the first place that we have false doctrines, but that we aren’t in communion with the Bishop. Now someone with basically Calvinistic sensibilities isn’t going to be Orthodox, and there would be immense pressures to change (as there would be for someone with Orthodox sensibilities at Auburn Avenue) but they wouldn’t have extra-biblical, or at least extra-creedal requirements. (Though they would include Second Nicea whereas Protestants don’t.)

  12. Remy said

    I consider the idea that you can be in the body of Christ but out of communion with the body of Christ -as EO claims- to be unBiblical and silly. They do not understand, as Doc Leithart says, that “the church’s life and identity is not humanly constructed Confessions but the God-Man Jesus”.

    As for your outsider stuff, again, that’s true of everybody. We’re all outsiders in some sense. No big deal.

    For someone to attend a church with peculiar distinctions means 1) it’s not as important as other things he believes (otherwise he wouldn’t come) or 2) he doesn’t hold to the position strongly (meaning he’ll adopt the majority position over time). Really, if something like that makes him feel like an outsider to the extent he feels like he’s not really really part of the church then that person needs to stop thinking like a teenager.

    Unity is always based on shared beliefs. Individuals are always based on distinctions. The Trinity unites these things into a whole.

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