This past summer (2018) my family enjoyed a vacation out west. Our area of focus was the Black Hills. We pretty much stayed at one Campground and then traveled out from that base and toured the area.
One of the places we visited was the Crazy Horse Memorial. While touring the Welcome Center we read quotes by different Indian Chiefs. One of the quotes caught my attention, I suppose because I’m a Christian and a pastor. The context pertains to Joseph of the Nez Perce giving reasons for not wanting churches built on his land. He says.
If you are a Christian, do you feel compelled to point out Joseph’s error? How much time would it take to ‘patiently’ explain why the subtleties between the Catholics and the Protestants are so critical? Bear in mind, he has no education in European History.
Explain away. Yes, articulate and teach. His words still remain in the air.
Perhaps we could approach this from another angle. Allow me to address a Christian audience for a moment. Do you know the difference between the Sunni and the Shia Muslims? Are you aware that there are different types of Buddhism? We could go on and on but from an outsider perspective, they all come out of the same barrel, right? With some intentionality we discern the subtleties.
Within the last two weeks I’ve visited two churches across the street from us. One is named Our Lady of the Cedars. It is a Maronite Catholic Church. Yeah, I didn’t know what Maronite meant either. If you know, good for you. The other church is named Saint Thomas Eastern Orthodox Church. I’ve met Father Bill and Father Vlado. I smiled when I met them as they introduced themselves as “Father”. I’m not used to that title.
On paper, we’re all ecclesiastically separated from one another. The East and the West split in 1054. The Protestants broke from Rome in the 1500s. I’m from a Protestant tradition but the Christian and Missionary Alliance would be best classified as Evangelical. After the Reformation began a splintering of splinters which has resulted in a plethora of denominations and movements in America.
Do we quarrel and quibble? I suppose we do. I’m embarrassed when I read of the fighting between Christians throughout history. My wife and I teach our children John 13:35, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
There it is.
When in doubt, love. Teach that.
You will say, “But we must hold the line doctrinally.” Yes, we do. How do we hold the line on “John 13:35”?