MOVING TOWARD HEALING AN OLD CHURCH SPLIT
The top two Catholic and Orthodox Christian leaders met Sunday and are continuing to talk about steps toward reunification. This 1,000-year-old division has been a terrible witness to the world about the ability of Christians to get along with themselves, much less others. Although I don't want or expect a single church with a single worship style and polity, there must be less division among Christians than there is now. If the Catholic-Orthodox split ever can be mended, maybe there's hope for the Protestant-Catholic split and all the divisions within Protestantism.
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SUPPOSE WE REFUSE TO LABEL?
So this past Friday, as I usually do, I was reading "All Things Catholic," the weekly column by John L. Allen Jr. of the National Catholic Reporter -- this column, in fact -- when I was struck by something John quoted from a priest.
The priest told a gathering of his fellow Paulists that they should be "beyond liberal, beyond conservative." Rather, he said, when it comes to Catholic theological infighting they should “have an unlisted number.”
I am far from an expert on Catholic infighting or where one might expect the Paulists to line up in such struggles, but the priest's comments got me to wondering what every religion -- not just Christianity and not just the Catholic part of the faith -- would look like today if each one could move "beyond liberal, beyond conservative" and focus, instead, on living out the faith in the fullest and truest sense.
My guess is that there would be much less sectarian strife, much less willingness to demonize others, much less anger. Instead there might be a greater willingness to be forgiving of people who fail and to be open at least to understanding things in different ways.
I recognize how idealistic and naive that must sound, and I don't for a minute imagine that all faiths in every time and place could pull off a no-labeling pledge.
But what if the movement could could start with just a congregation or two here or there in which people agree not to label each other? And if that's too much to ask, suppose we start with two or three already existing small groups within those congregations? Would such de-labeling catch on?
It's worth a try. What do you liberals, conservatives, moderates and extremists think?
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