Response Magizine Online Logo : Seattle Pacific University

Response Winter 2009

From the President






My Response

Letters to the Editor

From the Editor



Response Home

Up the Yangtze Movie review

Up the Yangtze Movie review

New Movie Review:
Up the Yangtze
Winter 2009 | Volume 32, Number 1 | Features

Reconciliation, and the Church:

Toward a “Heavenly Unity”?

Randy Rowland

Diversity both helps and hurts us in the church. It depends upon the issue, how it is articulated, and how core it is to orthodox Christian belief. I don’t think there is much room for diversity on the subject of the person and work of Christ. Neither did the church fathers. But in terms of the interpretation and practice of spiritual gifts, or how to govern the church, there is probably much more room for diversity.

Unity is a very hard word to define and live. Most denominations fail to demonstrate internal unity, for instance. Try to line up the larger movements of Protestants, Roman Catholics, and Orthodox, and you have an even bigger task.

Since the apostles, there have been different and emerging churches. Paul led the church on an emergence out of a strictly Jewish cultural expression. That was good. Other movements have been less appealing. Zwingli’s war against the Roman Catholics on the outskirts of Geneva came out of a horrid new and emergent ecclesiology. I think there are some great emerging churches that are now shaping all of us in the Church and also reaching today’s culture. Others are attempts to be hip or doctrinally creative, neither of which appeals to me. Those with the need to be “right” or overly “distinct” stick out, and in the end, those manifestations of the Church quite often wind up in trouble, victims of their own need to be separate.

I think like-minded leaders of different denominations are showing great hearts for unity and togetherness today. They are teaming in ministry in spite of differences in liturgy or doctrine. This excites me. And it allows us to work miracles on a local level as we build trust, respect, and understanding.

On a larger scale, some of the dialogues between major groups are also exciting. I particularly like the Vatican’s conversations with Pentecostal leaders. And I think the strong growth of the Orthodox Church here in the U.S. is a thrilling addition to our landscape.

I think our unity, if there is any, comes from attempting to be the Church in action together. Ephesians 4 tells us that a Church mobilized in ministry to a watching world leads us to unity and maturity: “It was [Christ] who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

This is where my hope for unity lies — not necessarily in liturgy or doctrine.

Randy RowlandRandy Rowland is a church-planter and pastor of Sanctuary, a thriving emerging church in Seattle associated with the Christian Reformed Church.

Page 3 of 5 | Back | Next

Return to top
Back to Features Home