David Simmons: Reflection on Unity

David Simmons, posting a letter to his parish on his blog Ayiailuvatar , amplifies something I asserted but didn’t fully develop in my blog post on Episcopal Cafe yesterday. (It’s on the point that Unity should be seen as a biblical truth):

“In John we read, ‘The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one.’ Christian Unity is not something achieved when Christians get all their theological ducks in a row, formulate an agreed statement, and all sign on. Christian Unity is something conferred by Jesus on the church DESPITE the fact that we have theological differences. If we claim Jesus as Lord, we are one in the spirit. In the church, compromise is necessary to maintain formal human unity to mirror the divine unity we are meant to resemble. Compromise is about human perceptions of God, not about God himself. The compromise document of the Nicene Creed is probably the best example of this truth.

Throughout church history, there have been those who have advocated for or achieved schism in order to maintain supposed purity of doctrine or ethics. Episcopal Church history is no different. There are twenty or thirty small denominations that have splintered off of us over our short history for a variety of reasons. It is in many ways the price we pray for being Protestant. We are children of a schism ourselves. The histories of these splinters are largely sad – the small denominations decline and often splinter into yet smaller groups. Over and over again, the splinters attempt to organize themselves at a larger level but then the organization self-destructs in squabbles over power and particulars of belief.

How can the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion avoid this fate? By acknowledging that unity of the church is indeed, in itself, a Biblical value. Jesus did not command us to agree in all particulars. He did not even command us to like each other. He commanded us to be one – to work together in worship and mission for the Kingdom of God.

Unity is not ours to accept or decline. It is for us to acknowledge or ignore.”

Read the rest: Reflection on Unity

Author: Nicholas Knisely

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...

2 thoughts on “David Simmons: Reflection on Unity”

  1. I saw your post Christopher. I’m still processing the many points you make. Your concern about the loss we’ve suffered as a result of losing a common language, or even an agreed upon way of doing theology is really well taken.

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