August 7, 2020

Evangelical Ecumenism and A Jesus Shaped Guest List

bouncerPoint: evangelicalism contains within itself some almost irresistible itches from its fundamentalist DNA. From time to time, the urge to scratch is almost overwhelming. These itches would include:

“Must say that Catholics are not Christians….”

“Must say that all things ecumenical are bad unless it’s guys on our team writing books or putting on a conference….”

“Must say all mainline Christians are apostate….”

“Must find ways to say our church actually has the pure Gospel others don’t have….”

“Must point out heretics like the emerging church and N.T. Wright…..”

Recently I’ve noticed a new variety of fundamentalist itch.

“Must show that creeds written before the Reformation are deficient compared to Reformation theology….”

Apparently, we’re on track to a kind of KJV-only logic. Don’t trust anything before we got everything right somewhere in there in the Reformation. Somewhere in there. Somewhere.

In a hundred years, we will be warning young theologians about reading the church fathers or anyone before Wayne Grudem. Be careful about listening to preachers before Piper.

Of course it all makes sense. Our various kinds of exclusive Fundamentalism always do. It’s so inclined towards rationalism that making perfect sense to your intellect is never the problem.

Making the case that the Nicene Creed isn’t enough to answer all the questions in Christianity- which no one ever claims- is clear as new glass. You won’t solve every theological issue with the Nicene Creed. No, we’ll need more than that.

Right. But then what are we going to say together as a common creed? Nothing? Jesus is Lord? Your book of Confessions? Whatever’s in the head of the latest reformation cop?

The more you add to that brew, the fewer and fewer people are going to be at the party…oh wait…that’s the real issue isn’t it? Is there a party? Do we want anyone else to stop by and have a hot dog and a root beer? Or is this get-together just for us and our closest friends?

Conservative evangelicals are pretty easily convinced that ecumenical conversation is not nearly as interesting or as helpful as telling all the Eastern Orthodox near you that their church is the “Orthoborg.”

Is the Jesus you are following calling you into ecumenical relationships with other Christians? Not evangelistic relationships, but fellowship around a shared Christ, even if not a shared table?

Or is Jesus giving you your theological policeman’s orders for the day? Get your quota of arrests. Get the Catholics off the streets. Arrest some mainliners. Let’s clean this neighborhood up. And be careful out there.

If grace has created an ecumenical party around the Jesus described in the Nicene Creed, it’s not the church. those can’t be the absolute boundaries. Some are left out. These days, a few that shouldn’t be in may use that good confession to slip in the door. The party may not be much more than a meal, a drink and a few laughs. Or it may be a clinic, a clothes closet and a meal for the poor. It may be working together on ecumenical worship during Holy Week or a prayer walk around your community.

In my house, it’s loving my wife, her friends and her church. At my ministry, it’s loving and sharing a school day with Orthodox, Catholic and every other denomination and tradition.

In my own experience of seeking a Jesus shaped spirituality, it’s learning that “if they aren’t against us, they are for us.” It’s the party grace throws for all the many different kinds of prodigals, sinners and lost sheep Jesus has collected.

It’s about the flavor, scent, sound and presence of grace toward other believers.

It’s not about agreement, but it’s about mutual confession of the ancient faith.

It’s not about the table, but about reverencing the one who is on the table.

It’s not about whether major things are at stake, but about knowing that people for whom Jesus died are always important and worthy of love and respect.

It’s not about whether the Gospel applies, but about how I apply the Gospel.

The ecumenical community is created by Jesus. It’s his guest list, and I can set up a lecture room at the Hyatt and outline my objections, or I can go in and have some food, drink and conversation. Jesus won’t beg me. He’ll just tell me where to find him.

Comments

  1. CastingCrown says

    “Is the Jesus you are following calling you into ecumenical relationships with other Christians? Not evangelistic relationships, but fellowship around a shared Christ, even if not a shared table?”

    Cracking stuff.

    • Cracking and confusing….

      “Is the Jesus you are following calling you into ecumenical relationships with other Christians? Not evangelistic relationships, but fellowship around a shared Christ, even if not a shared table?”

      The answer is…Of course, but it’s begging a deeper question about what’s driving this eloquent vent? The Calvinistas are at it again? LOL. What’s new. [lighthearted fun] Michael, tell me your wife isn’t converting you to Catholicism! [/lighthearted fun] Okay, I’ll leave the reading between the lines to someone else, but your points are noted and well placed….evangelicals are lousy when it comes to taking a deep breath and brushing off secondary faith issues that offend our sensibilities….though the whole “Mary thing” with RC folk is problematic for me.

      Jesus is Lord and Christ. If we can fundamentally agree on that, we have no issue. However, most issues do arise over a personal view of sin, a view which leads to whether or not a heart really sees a need for Jesus truly manifesting himself as Lord and/or Christ through faith.

  2. Michael,

    Thanks again for writing, Its good for my heart – especially as one who fears the doctrine police. One question that has always bugged me in conversations around ecumenism (especailly w/ Catholics) is when Paul talks curses those preaching another gospel in Galatians. The strong reformed types usually use that to condemn Catholic teaching. Does anyone think thats at all fair and if not how would you apply those verses today?

    • Aaron,

      I don’t want this idea or comment to offend anyone. I have really had my eyes and heart opened in the past few years by online folks i’ve met and by folks i’ve met in person who are RC and appear to have just as a sincere love and heart for Christ as I do. But , and again, I’m only stating my opinion and not trying to offend anyone, only answer your question, I think it is always important to seperate RC official church teachings etc. with actual RC’s. I, again not to offend, would not hesistate to say that much of what I have read in official RC doctrine is another gospel. I do not feel that way about RC’s in general and I would not be one to say they are not Christians.

  3. Michael,

    I can sympathize with the damage done to the unity of the church by schisms. Yet, I can also sympathize with efforts within Christianity to take an “us” and “them” mentality.

    The center of the faith is Jesus, but there is a very human need to answer that inevitable question of what is genuine is what is disengenuous. Not everyone is willing to accept a universal type of acceptance where any person can be part of the Christianity community without asking the question, “Are you really here for Jesus?”

    Ecumenism is uncomfortable because it can be the opening of church doors so that the enjoyment of the Christian community is available to any person, regardless of their beliefs towards Jesus. It has the potential for leading to a type of universalism where Jesus died to save all and all are saved, whether they follow Jesus or not.

    Some have no problem with universalism and others would like a little more clarity on the issue of whether there is anyone that Jesus might reject.

    • If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. I

      You can get a lot of Catholics, Calvinists and Arminians around that table. I think that’s what’s available right now to any follower of Jesus without any concerns for disengenousness. But Michael’s got the right list of “objections” to sending out the invitations.

      It’s not about fidelity; it’s about certitude.

    • “Some have no problem with universalism and others would like a little more clarity on the issue of whether there is anyone that Jesus might reject”
      careful!!!! – people reject Jesus, Jesus does not reject them!
      peace in Christ

  4. “Conservative evangelicals are pretty easily convinced that ecumenical conversation is not nearly as interesting or as helpful as telling all the Eastern Orthodox near you that their church is the “Orthoborg.”

    Okay, I have to laugh at this one. The Orthodox (in their many and varied forms, God bless ’em) as the Borg?

    Not heard the term “autocephalous” before, I take it.

    The Greeks are not the Russians are not the Copts are not the Georgians are not the Ethiopians are not the Cypriots are not the…

    Sorry, I have to challenge this. WE, us, the ROMANS are the Borg, not the guys on the other side of the Bosphorus or the Urals. Resistance is futile, prepare to be assimilated; you will enjoy becoming one with the Barque of Peter 🙂

    • Patrick Lynch says

      The more evangelicals that can love our crazy Catholic religion, the happier I’l be with it.

      • Patrick – happy? happy??!!

        Religion is not about happy, young man! Get yourself down to the nearest Opus Dei centre to have that implanted mind-control chip recalibrated immediately!

        And then you can roll in the nettles after a light flagellation.

        Happy, indeed!

        😉

        • Nobody here wants anything to do with The Happy. We’d all be secular humanists or some crass reincarnation of utilitarianism or some garbage. And isn’t this what the true spirit of ecumenism is all about, bonding in order to destroy a common enemy?

    • Jeremiah Lawson says

      Haven’t you heard? Only independent Baptist and non-denominational “movement” churches get to be autocephalous. The rest are chained to all the bad points of being denominations. 😉

      “Be careful about listening to preachers before John Piper” … awesome.

      I suppose the other addendum would be that all egalitarians are apostates who would have aborted baby Jesus if they heard he was going to be born.

      for the first time in my life I figure I should include a postscript, sarcasm alert.

    • FollowerOfHim says

      Martha,

      I’ve come down with a pretty severe case of autocephaly myself recently.

  5. Amen, that it is an absolute travesty to reject a brother in Christ. To dismiss. To disregard. To violate the unity of the Body–those who know Christ, who depend on him, coming with empty hands to repent & trust in the proclamation of good news of his death and resurrection, giving us entry into His kingdom. His rule. His banqueting table, and its banner of love. True ecumenism, centered on the good news of Christ.

    What I don’t understand, Michael, is some of your reactions in the controversies. Your interpretations. I see the way you read other people, and sometimes, I come away puzzled.

    I rejoice that God looks on the heart, not on the perfection of our articulation of the theology of salvation. I rejoice in part because I know that my own understanding must have its flaws. But He sees and knows what we depend on, even when our confession is muddled. His Spirit lives in every single person who comes to Christ, relying on Him–whether Catholic, or Baptist, or a sad soul in a health-and-wealth church. And I rejoice in every one of those brothers & sisters.

    I weep for those in my own congregation who do not know the gospel, and I pray that it will be proclaimed with more clarity every week, every day. I weep for every merely nominal Christian–and I weep for the areas where the culture of Christianity fosters empty profession & self-righteousness. I weep for every church that muddles the gospel. I weep for every church that presents a false gospel, and I pray that God will protect those congregants–that they will trust in Christ in spirit and in truth, in spite of the false gospel they hear.

    I weep for every brother and sister in Christ whose local church does not clearly and visibly proclaim and live out the gospel of Christ. I pray for God to change me–that his light & his Spirit would cast out every hint of darkness, of lethargy, of mere intellectualism, of divisiveness. I pray that he would grow in me a deep, open, generous servant’s heart.

    And as I look at you, Michael, I think you’re with me on all this. You’re probably past me, in much of your spiritual growth and your willingness to walk with God and serve.

    But somehow, in your mind, all this means we must take something off the table: The notion that the official teaching of the Catholic Church of Rome might distort the good news of Christ to the point that it is a false gospel.

    I do not understand why the ecumenism you pursue or our love for our brothers and sisters in the Catholic Church requires that we reject this notion.

    • Why don’t you specifically tell the Catholics in the room why they aren’t Christians? Be to the point.

      • Because you would mod him Imonk:) and he makes a valid point that there are i’m convinced millions of RC’s who have grasped the gospel despite what many, and were not radicals, would believe is a muddling of the gospel by official RC church doctrine

        • I take offense at that. Those inside a discipline are ALWAYS more able to understand its workings than those outside it. I’m assuming you forgot an apostrophe and are identifying yourself with this camp.

          You can insult me, but don’t insult my church.

          • I don’t think Austin’s statement was meant as an insult/offense to your or your church. But I think he was stating what many of us Protestants believe and that is that the RCC (either in teachings or actual practice) tends to obscure the gospel. Some will say outright that the RCC teaches a false gospel, but many of us would not go that far and just think that, as has obviously been discussed many times here, extrabiblical traditions and dogmas have obscured rather than clarified the gospel. We know how the Pharisees in Jesus’ day obscured the real meaning of the Law by their extra laws layered on top of the Old Testament, but yet there were many, many, many Jews who feared and worshipped God and who were prepared for Jesus’ coming—-I personally look at the RCC the same way. No offense—it’s just where many of us stand based on the best that our hearts and minds can understand. (and incidentally, many like me feel there is plenty of obscuring that goes on in certain Protestant circles as well—maybe of a different kind, but I wouldn’t say there is somehow a unique bias against the RCC).

            Peace.

          • K. I got it. But look…. a) how well do you REALLY understand Catholicism and much more importantly b) in my most sour mood I would NEVER accuse a Protestant church of obstrufication of the Gospel. Dunno about you, but that’s a pretty serious accusation.

        • I came to Christ in, through, and because of the Catholic Church, having grown up–all my life!–an evangelical preacher’s kid (it serves no purpose to say what denom), so I really don’t get the “grasped-the-gospel-despite?” being Catholic argument. I was soooo very ready to give Christianity the boot out of my life, until a Catholic girlfriend invited me to Mass and I found Him whom I always always always longed for.

      • Muddling is muddling. Where’s the false Gospel, not the erring or muddled Gospel?

      • I’ll try to be more concise. And I’ll break it up. Maybe that’ll help.

        First, I would like to know: Was there a single thing in my comment that you disagreed with, prior to the last two sentences?

        I ask, because I went to great lengths to try to express the same spirit of genuine Christ-centered, admirable ecumenism that your post points toward.

        1.) As I already said, Catholics who are truly depending on Christ are Christians, regardless of whether or not the Catholic Church (in its official, dogmatic teaching) neglects the Gospel, confuses it, or actually teaches a false gospel.

        That’s the same standard for every member of every denomination or congregation.

        2.) I don’t know whether or not the Catholic Church (in its official, dogmatic teaching) confuses the gospel or actually teaches a false gospel. I don’t know, because I haven’t studied the primary sources myself. I know what others say about it, and I know something about how various Catholics take it, but I don’t know who’s right about the official teaching.

        3.) If the Magisterium teaches a false gospel, it comes down to a parallel of the Judaizers in Galatians–adding to Christ. It comes down to grounding our salvation in our efforts in a way that’s hostile to truly depending on Christ. (But again, I don’t know whether they do. That’s why I didn’t claim that they do. This misunderstanding from you is precisely why I said, “I see the way you read other people, and sometimes, I come away puzzled.”)

        4.) You reject the notion that Catholics aren’t Christian. Good!

        But you need to get over your apparent idea that we have to say “The Catholic Magisterium teaches the gospel truly” in order to have a Jesus-shaped ecumenism.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Why don’t you specifically tell the Catholics in the room why they aren’t Christians? Be to the point.

        Yeah.
        Let’s hear about Nimrod, Semiramis, and Tammuz.
        About Popery and Satanic Death Cookies and Mariolatry and the Inquisition.
        Let’s hear from Hislop, Chiniquy, Maria Monk, Alberto Rivera, and Raul Rees.

    • Not some false teaching but THE false Gospel. Example: “Catholics believe in salvation by works.” No, Catholics believe that all salvation is by grace, but that there is a different relationship of faith and works than Protestants. Since about 995 of Prots andf 99% of Catholics have no idea what their churches say on this subject, we may have trouble locating the false Gospel. Or maybe only theologians can be saved.

      • Imonk,

        If I thought that a clear presentation of the gospel could be found on a regular basis at the local Parish church I would be there this Sunday. The RC obviuolsy along with the Orthodox have the best claim at being the oldest game in town. I don’t feel it is the case so I remain where I am.

        but i understand your point

        • Here’s the thing I’ve seen in going to Mass with my family and friends over the years:

          1. The Gospel is ALWAYS clear in Catholic Eucharist and in the recitation of the Creed. Between “Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us,” “For us men and for our salvation He became incarnate [and what follows]. I never leave Mass without getting the gospel.

          2. I can’t remember the last time I went to Mass where the homily wasn’t about Jesus. It’s ALWAYS about Jesus, ‘cuz it’s always based on the Gospel text.

          3. In my experiences with Evangelicalism (esp. my previous church), Gospel and Jesus were occasional guest stars. It was more important for us to get moralism than the Gospel. Even when there were altar calls, it seemed that most of the time the concept of New Covenant grace was either assumed, taken for granted, or an after thought. Jesus was the means for making life right rather than the focus.

          So, yeah, I’ve got issues with the Catholic take on sanctification and justification (and some other doctrines). But there were many a time I’d go to Mass specifically because I knew I’d participate in gospel-centered, Jesus-centered worship.

          • Patrick Lynch says

            “Jesus was the means for making life right rather than the focus.”

            That’s the realness. It doesn’t take a lot of faith to use Jesus as a gimmick and a means to an end – thank God. if Jesus had to be the focus of Christianity, almost nobody would bother.

        • Patrick Lynch says

          No offense, but at what point is this “feeling” not totally subjective? The Gospel either is or isn’t central to authentic, from-the-horses-mouth Catholic Christianity; some people feel the need to debate with talking horses, but my opinion is that If it’s plainly stated, evidentiary and constantly invoked but not ‘clear to me’ (i.e. it’s not how *I* would say it), on what grounds other than personal preference am I evaluating and rejecting Catholicism for having an ‘unclear’ Gospel? And on what basis is that preference justified, elevated, authorized?

          In other words, where in the Gospel does it say that a mature Christian is supposed to be SO SENSITIVE as to develop such cute little preferences about how the Gospel is arranged and presented to him? All this fussiness about the Gospel needing to be just so gives the impression that Protestants baptize their own into an audience instead of the body of Christ…

          Me personally, I tend to dislike lots of stuff for no good reason; sure, I HAVE reasons for my tendentious opinions, and they seem to be constructed rationally or if they’re totally outrageous at least they’re subtle and passionately argued and perhaps can convince by way of emotional force. But if I’m really honest with myself, I know that they’re generally self-serving and inasmuch as they abuse rationality, are kind of evil. Sometimes I’m contrary just to be contrary, and can barely tell the difference myself; sometimes I find that long-held opinions of mine or beliefs I thought I’d come by honestly have that sharp taste about them that tells me my guarded wisdom has already gone to rot; and I have to look into the store of my heart and find the sour source of my contaminated precept, and I always discover how it had rubbed off from some sour grudge or secret failure..

          I know this is just a thread on a website and this is more or less a silly conversation, but you ever give much thought to how much personal bitterness is rolled in with your most basic grasp of theology?

          Sometimes I get the intuition that life is a long and horrible chain of hallucinations of my own perverse, miasmic subjectivity; I stretch to believe that possibly just loving God back in this life (as He teaches us to), is the saving gift that will break the spell for me and bring me to Him on the last day.

          The rest of the time, it all seems impossible, but an interesting cultural exercise all the same.

          So what I’m saying is, I hope you’re really trying to purge yourself of badness, silliness, pique and selfishness so you love might actually love Jesus instead of nursing your own subjectivities.

          Not that I think that you aren’t – I mean, I don’t know you. But I hope that you are.

          • The can of worms here is what is the Gospel?

            The Good News of salvation. Christ has died to redeem us.

            And?

            That’s the killer part: what about the “and”? How does that work out? I’m getting muddled messages here; a lot of talk about the gospel, but it seems that the gospel is meaning many different things, and we’re not sure what we mean by it, what the rest of us mean by it, and we seem to be talking past one another.

            I am not saying “Can’t we all just agree that Jesus is Lord and leave it at that” because I do definitely believe getting it right is important, even on small details that may turn out to be big details. I don’t think God judged anyone on deficient theology when they couldn’t know better, but I do think the Church (as the body of believers) has to be very careful to get it right, because letting things slide since they don’t seem important or necessary leads down the line (and remember, ‘down the line’ in this context means centuries and even millenia) to very grave errors.

            No single person ever went to hell for not being absolutely clear on the distinction between imputed and infused righteousness, or for not being able to compare and contrast justification and sanctification, but for the Church as a whole extending throughout time and space, the teachers had better get it right or else, because if they mess up the charge to feed My sheep, it would be better for them to have a millstone hung around their necks and to be cast into the sea.

            It doesn’t matter tuppence if the maniple is no longer part of the vestmests. It matters a whole freakin’ lot if the priest dresses up in a Barney costume, even if it is for a children’s Mass.

      • It’s interesting to me the two-way traffic between Catholic and evangelical churches. I personally know many Catholics who have come to evangelical churches (and stayed) because they’ve said they never heard (or came to understand) the gospel back in their RC upbringing. And of course, as has been showcased here in this forum, quite a few evangelicals are making their way to the RCC (sometimes returning, sometimes for the first time). The fact that so many Catholics could say something like this (never hearing the gospel) doesn’t mean that the RCC is teaching a false gospel, in my view—but it is an indictment on the quality of teaching and real discipleship at least at a number of parishes. In this sense, evangelical churches are doing a great service by presenting the gospel clearly. If after being “saved”, new members of many contemporary style, evangelism-driven (altar call after every sermon) churches migrate to the RCC when they realize that these same churches, in spite of being great at presenting the gospel, fall short at offering any real connection to the church’s rich past or any real spiritual depth—-I don’t see that as a bad thing. It can only help increase the level of understanding of the gospel in the RCC and it can only help contemporary evangelicals realize that there is something of lasting signficance to learn from the RCC, in terms of heritage, beauty in worship, etc. I’m not trying to say Catholics have to come to evangelical churches to be saved—just saying that I think the two way traffic between Catholic and evangelical churches shows that each is contributing something where the other falls short.

        • Absolutely. Familiarity can breed contempt and I don’t think there’s such a thing as a perfect church. The difference in the other tradition can be appealing all in its own.

          I just really hate it when any of us start making the assumption that membership in xyz denomination either equates to salvation or precludes salvation. To paraphrase the Scripture, who are we to judge the servant of another? God’s the Master, not us.

          As to sharing the gospel with each other, I welcome it. Even on this side of salvation I need the gospel!

          • “I just really hate it when any of us start making the assumption that membership in xyz denomination either equates to salvation or precludes salvation.”

            I agree. And I think that’s pretty close to one of the main points of IM’s original essay today.

        • “The fact that so many Catholics could say something like this (never hearing the gospel) doesn’t mean that the RCC is teaching a false gospel, in my view—but it is an indictment on the quality of teaching and real discipleship at least at a number of parishes.”

          Catholic education is often pretty soulless; you should convert and fix it for us!

      • “Since about 995 of Prots andf 99% of Catholics have no idea what their churches say on this subject, we may have trouble locating the false Gospel. Or maybe only theologians can be saved.”

        And that, by the way, was at the heart of my point. Whatever problems there are in Catholicism–or in every Protestant church, or in every professingly Christian group–I hope that 99% of the members don’t know those teachings well enough to be led astray by them.

        Since the Spirit is at work, I have some reason to hope that this is true.

        That’s also why we need to preach the gospel clearly all the time, in all our churches. And that’s why, when we’re talking to someone who may well be missing the gospel because of the badness of the teaching of their church–like, say, a Bible-belt church of merely cultural Christianity, or a full-blown health & wealth church–then we need to ask God to use us to make the gospel more clear to them, and pray that He would move in them to open their eyes to true grace & repentance & dependence on Christ.

        • “I hope that 99% of the members don’t know those teachings well enough to be led astray by them.”

          Whereas, the real Catholics I know might observe that most Christians, Catholic and Protestant, don’t know enough about the deposit of Catholic teachings to be spiritually advanced by them.

          To quote Imonk from this week’s podcast (sort of out-of-context, I know): “..but we are speaking about the same message, the same Gospel, the same faith, and we are coming back to the same cross with the same offer..

          A lot of what we say does amount to repetition, so here’s another way to think about it Evangelicals: why not say, ‘what’s the best way that we’ve ever said that?’ or certainly an excellent way we’ve said it, lets make that the way we talk about it…”

          “Lets just give up saying that we have anything original to say, and lets try and find the meaning – the deep meaning – and the deep appreciation of having said something well in the past.”

    • Jugulum,
      I want to recommend that you get the book Free to Pray, Free to Love. It is a book on prayer by a Jesuit.

      I’m a protestant myself and when I read the book I was surprised at how rich the author’s understanding of grace was.

      I agree that Catholic teaching can sometimes obscure the Gospel (so does a lot of Protestant teaching, imo), but I’m convinced that on some level, the RCC teaches a true gospel.

      • That’s another aspect of the issue, actually. What is “Catholic teaching”? Is it books written by Catholics? The homilies read during mass? The writings of bishops, or the pope? Ecumenical councils?

        To different degrees, in different ways, it’s all these.

        I’ll put that book on my list, and I can easily believe it will turn out to be rich in the grace of the gospel. Just like I am sure that the gospel is proclaimed and believed in Catholic contexts.

        Whether the magisterial teaching is consistent with the gospel is another question. (It’s the flip-side of saying, “Being in a particular denomination doesn’t make you a Christian.”)

        • If you’re looking for the official teaching of the church (ie magisterial teaching), I believe it is contained within the catechism:

          The Good News: God has sent his Son

          422 ‘But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.’ This is ‘the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God’:’ God has visited his people. He has fulfilled the promise he made to Abraham and his descendants. He acted far beyond all expectation – he has sent his own ‘beloved Son’.

          CCC 1:2:2:422
          http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p1s2c2.htm

    • Michael,

      By the way–if you don’t take the time to respond to my answer, I hope you’ll at least answer the brief question I asked:

      “Was there a single thing in my comment that you disagreed with, prior to the last two sentences?

      I ask, because I went to great lengths to try to express the same spirit of genuine Christ-centered, admirable ecumenism that your post points toward.”

  6. I posted elsewhere on “judgement” of other Christians. It applies here as well. I’m perfectly willing to “fellowship around a shared Christ,”. I’m only responsible for the sin in me, not the sin of the world. God takes care of that, using many ways, including this blog. If I live the gospel, turn towards Christ daily and away from me, I have no worries about being overtaken by wrong thinking. But to draw a line in the sand concerning ecumenism is turning back to me as I compare them to me. There are many Christians who would disagree with my “brand” of faith. But none the less, it is faith. A gift of grace. Whose faith is not a gift? Who has the real log in their eye? Need I answer these questions? I don’t agree with a gospel of works, but I don’t fear it’s presence. I hope the “greats” continue to duke it out concerning the gospel, but we all need to just live it. The true gospel is the one with power to save, and it will endure to the end. Nothing else will.

  7. I know exactly what you mean in a lot of your statements. I do tend to think, however, that most people, even amongst the strictest doctrinal (or moral practice) police, are well meaning and are simply logically following what they truly believe—including, as others said above, following what Paul says about steering clear of what are perceived to be false gospels.

    In my own struggle with being on either the giving or receiving end of “police work”, I’ve tended to notice that I’m much more able to discuss, accommodate, take a gentle approach with others one on one. But when talking about “them” as a group, I tend to harden my attitude. There’s something about dealing with a group or institution that calls for clearer or sharper words, as opposed to dealing with individuals. Good or bad, that’s how I feel myself acting/reacting and I would think this is probably true of others as well.

  8. Michael writes, “The ecumenical community is created by Jesus. It’s his guest list, and I can set up a lecture room at the Hyatt and outline my objections, or I can go in and have some food, drink and conversation. Jesus won’t beg me. He’ll just tell me where to find him.’

    I hope to be on that guest list with you, Michael. See you there for snacks, drinks and wonderful conversation. I remain….a just-barely-Catholic-but-loving-Jesus-the-best-I-know-how person.

    • Christiane says

      Joanie D,
      The self-styled “a just-barely-Catholic”
      with the spirit of a Joan D’ Arc 🙂

      • “with the spirit of a Joan D’ Arc.”

        I will take that as a compliment, Christiane. Thank you. And I have enjoyed your presence on this blog. Keep on posting!

  9. You say:

    Of course it all makes sense. Our various kinds of exclusive Fundamentalism always do. It’s so inclined towards rationalism that making perfect sense to your intellect is never the problem.

    Chesterton wrote in, Orthodoxy, that strict, close rationalism was one of the hallmarks of lunacy. This doesn’t mean that rationality = insanity, but that the insane are the most logical. His example of someone who claims to be king of England is the prime example. Well worth the read if you haven’t ventured there already.

    • Fundamentalism is missing devine Mystery!!! not rigid isolated systematic theology!
      thanx 4 your post —- Chesterton is the Man, even if I’m not Catholic!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Is this the Chesterton quote you were referencing (from memory):

      “The lunatic is not the man who has lost his reason. The lunatic is the man who has lost everything except his reason.”

  10. Christiane says

    So Michael,
    Your writing is passionately ecumenical. I would call it inspired. And inspiring.
    I’m Catholic but have been blogging for a year or so with Southern Baptists. The evangelicals on the blogs are sometimes so very Christian that I forget that they are not Catholic. It’s the fundamentalists that frighten me.
    One fundamentalist wrote this on a blog:

    ““Many passages of scripture show that the preaching of the Gospel is inherently negative.”

    I’m still recovering from the shock. I can’t begin to understand fundamentalists. It is so hard to see any semblance of Christianity in them. Of course, I suppose they would feel the same about a Catholic.

    Question: Is fundamentalism taking over the evangelical world? Or is it a separatist movement that will lead to the formation of cults?

    • I actually think full blown fundamentalism isn’t the issue. It’s the fundamentalist DNA that causes evangelicals to have to re-enact these battles of separation over and over. It’s like a virus. Or poison Ivy 🙂

      • The DNA you speak of IM, i think, is carried to the next generation and battles are ‘re-enacted’ partially out of ignorance. It seems it’s almost like ‘acts’ of a ‘play’ they have seen their older church members hashing out. We can sometimes carry this virus and spew it’s poison out of ignorance, not really knowing what the original ‘battle lines’ were, or why.
        I think some have become lazy and unwilling to truly engage in any sincere conversations. It’s easier to continue to speak in ‘Characatures’.
        (hope i’m not being too vague here).

      • As for the Presby wing, have you read John Frame’s excellent essay “Machen’s Warrior Children.” Sadly, some have now actually taken pride in the term.

  11. iMonk, I agree with you so much that I’m tempted to ask you to join me in starting a church. But we all know where that would lead, don’t we? One of us would eventually be going to hell in the eyes of the other.

    • Like the joke about the devout Jew who was shipwrecked on a desert island, and when finally rescued, the captain of the ship asked him “What are those two buildings you made?”

      “That one is the synagogue I go to on the Sabbath”, he replied, pointing to one.

      “And the other one?”

      “That’s the synagogue I don’t go to!”

  12. Paul Tillich in his book, “History of Christian Thought” warns that the danger inherit in curbing heresey via creeds and synod pronouncements is that we run the risk of needlessly narrowing the faith at the loss of the breadth of its true richness. The Christian faith is confessional at the same time that it is universal. I don’t think we can possibly grasp the scandal facing the New Testament Jewish believer when first told that the gentile believer is now one of us.

  13. I am part of a Lutheran Denomination that is congregational as opposed to synod based – (the AFLC) – On one hand, I am appreciative of their concept that Christian Unity is a spiritual concept, not one definied by man-made organizations –

    On the other hand, I too get concerned that any denomination that sets itself apart based on doctrinal issues is going to feel more exclusionary then inclusionary. It’s a fine tightrope

  14. *like button!*

  15. Ben Wheaton says

    dumb ox,

    Some would say that the fact that Paul Tillich said that is a strong argument against the iMonk’s position. The breadth of Christianity is not, suffice it to say, broad enough to accept Tillich’s theology.

    • I absolutely agree. Tillich was no poster child of orthodoxy. He had other personal failures, too. To the degree that his theology was “therapeutic” in the criticisms of those like Preus I would somewhat disagree.

      Tillich expressed doubts in certain articles of the creed but never said we shouldn’t have creeds. But what do we do with those who have honest, intellectual doubts? I’ll bet all the beer in Milwaukee that in every church – no matter how fundamental or confessional – that there is at least one member who secretly has the same doubts as did Tillich, but fears being treated as an infidel if he or she shared those doubts with anyone.

      Tillich said this regarding doubt:

      “Not only he who is in sin but also he who is in doubt is justified through faith. The situation of doubt, even of doubt about God, need not separate us from God. There is faith in every serious doubt, namely, the faith in the truth as such, even if the only truth we can express is our lack of truth. But if this is experienced in its depth and as an ultimate concern, the divine is present; and he who doubts in such an attitude is “justified” in his thinking. So the paradox got hold of me that he who seriously denies God, affirms him. Without it I could not have remained a theologian.” – from Paul Tillich’s “The Protestant Era”, from Author’s Introduction, section II.

  16. Again you are saying what needs to be said! Thank you.

    Fundamentalists and evangelicals have some good reasons to be concerned with boundaries. But I fear the medicine is close to killing the patient. The problem with constant boundary-policing, when its not balanced by other impulses, is that it heads of all dialog, open-mindedness, and empathy. It is hard to imagine intellectual life or even spiritual life flourishing when we insist on being so myopic.

  17. How’s your Ethiopian Orthodox student doing?

    • Less angry. More confused. The other day she said that at Easter we should be celebrating the crucification.

      • Jeremiah Lawson says

        Having some Eastern Orthodox relatives I know that their calendar is just different enough from the Western calendar that things do get confusing. I’m still getting my head around it. The basic ebb and flow of Advent, Lent, Pentecost, and the like are still basically in common but the dates do vary.

        An in-law of mine who is Orthodox and deployed overseas once told me that it sucks to be Orthodox in the United States military because while there’s plenty of Catholic and Protestant chaplains handy now there are not too many Orthodox chaplains.

      • The more you describe her the more she sounds like a typical teenager. (I too work with them every day.) I wish I could meet her because I really think we’d get along, and she seems oddly endearing. Though you may not feel this way about her at this point in time.

      • Interesting. Does that mean that she sees the main point of Easter as the death and not so much the resurrection, or does the Ethiopian church celebrate the resurrection more, say, at the time of the feast of the Ascension, or is she merely confused that (if I am correct) there are no equivalent to the Triduum services and instead it just seems like there are all these flowers and bonnets and chocolate and parades on one Sunday out of nowhere with nothing about Good Friday beforehand?

        By which I mean, to her it could seem like Americans have completely secularised Easter (e.g. calling it Spring Break and not the Easter holidays for one) and that to her eyes there is no appearance of commemorating the Passion?

        • Aha! Wikipedia enlightens once again!

          “Fasika is a climactic celebration. Fasting becomes more intense over the 56-day period of Lent, when no meat or animal products of any kind, including milk and butter, are eaten. Good Friday starts off by church going, and is a day of preparation for the breaking of this long fasting period.

          The faithful prostrate themselves in church, bowing down and rising up 101 times. The main religious service takes place with the Paschal Vigil on Saturday night. It is a sombre, sacred occasion with music and dancing until the early hours of the morning. At 3:00 a.m. everyone returns home to break their fast, and a chicken is slaughtered at midnight for the symbolic occasion. In the morning, after a rest, a sheep is slaughtered to commence the feasting on Easter Sunday.”

          I’m guessing there is no Southern Baptist equivalent of the Holy Saturday Vigil, much less anything like the stripping of the altars on Maundy Thursday? That would seem strange to her, churches not being dark and bare for Good Friday, and so it would not seem that you were “celebrating the crucifixion” – though ‘celebrate’ isn’t exactly the mot juste here 🙂

          • Martha,

            The Southern Baptists are very good at celebrating Home Missions during the preparation for Easter. I remember long and interesting periods about Annie Armstrong. They tend to skip from Palm Sunday (which only reflects the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem) to Easter. Not much mention of Maunday Thursday, nor even too much about Good Friday.

  18. I’m starting up a morning prayer group at the local YMCA next wednesday. We will be doing a modified form of Anglican Morning Prayer, I hope we have all types show up, We will recite the Apostle’s Creed, were sticking to collects, scripture and the Creed so we can include as many as possible

  19. Just a question: I understand that condemning Catholics or mainliners to Hell is not OK, but what if I want to object to, say, an Emergent author who effectively removes the Virgin Birth as necessary to the Christian faith? Can I ask questions or even debate that point without being seen as a Fundamentalist brute? I should think that my Catholic friends would also have something to say on that one.

    DSY

    • That’s very sensitive territory. I think what Rob Bell is trying to do is to bypass people’s rational objections to accepting the Gospel. What Jesus said is “Follow me,” not “believe literally every item in this book.” Once people have accepted Christ — because of His love for us, and the mercy He offers in forgiveness of sin — then some teaching of basic doctrine is appropriate.

      Consider this analogy. My pastor (and Tim Keller too, as far as I understand) doesn’t teach on abortion or homosexuality from the pulpit. He doesn’t want anyone to think they have to join some political party before they can accept Christ into the heart. Admittedly, a person who’s been a Christian for twenty years should believe the virgin birth and recognize legal abortion on demand as a tragedy in our world. But the urgent necessity of simply helping people meet Christ virtually trumps all other concerns. I think the apostle Paul felt that way, too.

    • I suppose the question is: *Is* it necessary to Christian faith? I agree that it is part of traditional Christian orthodoxy. Thus we do want believers to know the doctrine has historically been considered important to Christian belief. We can urge them to accept it, or at least to understand its importance and appeal. But if a person has trouble with the belief, I don’t think they should see it as a barrier to seeking Christ. And by seeking God in faith and binding yourself in fellowship to a believing community, many do come to believe things that were once stumbling blocks to them before.

      Of course, I’d like to say “let’s insist on agreement.” But I do think it can create an environment in which potential converts or old believers with doubts feel they cannot be honest about the contents of their minds.

      Disclaimer: I’ve never been to an emergent church, so I have no idea what their perspective is. I speak instead as an evangelical member of a mainline church.

      • Well, you can believe that Christ was a great prophet, uniquely chosen of God, and son of Mary, but that doesn’t make you a Christian.

        You can be anything from an Arian to a Muslim, so yeah – the Virgin Birth is (once again!) one of those Marian doctrines that touch on the roots of Christianity.

        It does make a difference to our understanding of the meaning of “Son of God”. I’ve seen explanations ranging from “He never said any such thing, it was later retconning by The Church to hang on to power” to “He was specially inspired by the Spirit” to “He wanted to teach us that we are *all* sons and daughters of God so that’s why He used this term”.

        John the Baptist was a specially inspired prophet of God who had a birth announced by an angel, but he was not the Second Person of the Trinity or our Saviour. Yes, it does make a big difference.

        • Technically Arianism would be “Christian” — but a heterodox form of Christianity.

          But I basically agree with you. Unless one can explain to me how one intends to hang onto Tritiarian theology and the Incarnation while denying the Virgin Birth, then the implications of rejecting the miracle are too great.

          So I suppose my position would be: accept that people with terrible theology may know Christ (and therefore are brothers and sisters in Christ), but nonetheless insist that the Church should continue to affirm the Nicene Creed (and therefore also the past seventeen centuries of Christian thought).

          • So basically because I’m a nontrinitarian I’m not christian? says who?

            Don’t get me wrong, I believe Jesus is God himself, I don’t deny his full divinity and humanity. But I have a really hard time accepting the Trinitarian dogma.

            I’ve been a Christian for almost 25 years, used to be a Baptist for almost 17 of those years. I’ve done my homework (study and research) and the best (honest and humble) conclusion that I’ve reach concerning the nature of God is…. I don’t know.

            I’ve been wrestling with this issue for so long that I came to a point where I was missing the obvious for the sake of trying to unravel the mystery that has bugged the church for her entire history. And the obvious is that whatever is NECESSARY for the salvation of man and his relationship with God, has already been revealed in a clear, simple and sound way. Whatever needs a Ph.D. degree to be comprehended and more than a few simple explanations, it’s definitely not worthy and goes beyond the gospel.

            Most people think that this is a closed issue that was resolved around the 4th century and that nothing more has to be said about it. Nothing can be far from the truth! The reality is that in the entire history of the church we can find that this is a constant point of disagreement. This issue is so old that for most people have become a “come on, let it be!” (mystery?) thing.

            The only part of trinitarian dogma that I can agree with is the “mystery” part. Is that enough to get saved?

            Peace & Love

    • I have serious problems with removing the Virgin Birth from the necessary doctrines of Christianity. I would hope that someone would actively call on the author and privately set him straight. If that doesn’t seem to be happening, then I would mention to others about the writer’s errors.

      I can see lowering the volume on talking about abortion, and other social issues. Many people just have to work themselves through to those areas.

    • Depends on what he’s doing. If he’s saying “I’m not getting into theological debates over the two natures of Christ or the homoousion”, and leaving all that for later after the person has come to faith, then okay.

      If he’s saying “Look, it doesn’t really matter. In fact, it’s just how their minds worked back then; all the Mediterranean cultures had tales of gods fathering sons on mortal women who grew up to be extraordinary men, so this is how they expressed their view of the uniqueness of Christ”, then it matters a heck of a lot.

  20. I don’t know how much we can realistically expect when it comes to the issue of unity between the various expressions. Probably not much. But one thing I am sure of and that is much more attainable and that is ecumenicism-the sharing of fellowship and worship. We can and should do better.

  21. Rob Grayson says

    “The ecumenical community is created by Jesus. It’s his guest list, and I can set up a lecture room at the Hyatt and outline my objections, or I can go in and have some food, drink and conversation. Jesus won’t beg me. He’ll just tell me where to find him.”

    The best thin I’ve read all week, right there.

  22. I’ve read a few historical books recently that describe the physical, material, and political battles between protestants and Catholics (or popish Church of Englanders) in the 16th, 17th, and early 18th centuries. These types of battles alongside the doctrinal battles of words. Protesters / “ecclesiastical revolutionaries” so to speak being put in jail, being hanged, being forced to leave their houses,etc. It seemed to me the word “popery” was synonymous with “evil” among protestants in those days.

    Many protestants today are the children, of the children, of the children, etc. of the protestants from those days. I wonder if this is part of the “dna” that iMonk speaks of? I realize this conjecture could be offensive — if somebody suggested my well thought out, strongly held views on anything were actually the result of some subconscious generational influence I might be offended.

    But even at that risk, if a church today is making a point of proactively opposing the Roman Catholic church — could some of the emotion and vehemence be an echo of the historical fight?

  23. Michael writes that some evangedicals have this itch , ““Must point out heretics like the emerging church and N.T. Wright…..”

    Wow, N.T. Wright would never be seen as heretic in my eyes! But perhaps that would make me a heretic too. When I first started spending time on some non-Catholic blogs a couple years ago, I was concerned when folks would say things like, “Be careful. That could be seen as heretical.” But then a respected evangelical author of books told me to wear my heretical badge proudly! I learned that you can be heretical and still be a Christian. It’s just that a heretic has a belief or beliefs that are not exactly “orthodox.” Some of the Church fathers had what some of us would call heretical beliefs.

    • I know, I love N.T. Wright! (Though to be fair, I am not Reformed so the objections from some folks in that camp don’t really matter to me.)

      The fact Wright is on some people’s black list brings up an interesting problem, I think: How some evangelical communities very diligently black-ball some of the best defenders of the own orthodoxy. N.T. Wright is one of the cleverest and most qualified conservative-leaning commentators on the Jesus Seminar scholarship. If you assassinate folks like him, you’re left with a very small collection of apologists.

      • Actually, every time I’ve heard a critique of Wright’s teaching on justification, it has always included a statement of appreciation for his work on the crucifixion.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        If you assassinate folks like him, you’re left with a very small collection of apologists.

        As in a Larry, Moe, and Curly collection:

        Larry cites Moe as a source.
        Moe cites Curly as a source.
        Curly cites Larry as a source.
        Woop Woop Woop!

  24. Great article and one close to my heart.
    The discussion earlier re “false doctrines” in the Roman Communion was interesting. I liked the point about most folks not actually knowing their official theology in any denomination. I so agree.
    I also doubt that God is half as interested in theology as we seem to be.
    I really don’t think the command to go and baptise all people in My Name was about making theologians of them.
    I also note that Paul didn’t claim that Theological Prowess is the greatest gift of all.

    Call me Mr Silly, but I rather think all the arguements about telling us how important theology is to can understand these things is really a way of sneaking it into first place and sorting out who is and who is not on “our team”.
    Rather the opposite methinks of the two examples I offered.
    ie; baptising all nations
    and
    The greatest of all of these is Love.

    Mind you, I could be wrong. I’m sure I could be theologically corrected……

  25. Bother
    I note I made a grammatical error in the prev post.
    Cut & Paste is not always your friend.

  26. Truth unites… and divides!!!

  27. Having had a thoroughly Protestant and evangelical upbringing (and having gone to a thoroughly fundamentalist university — oy!!), I always thought Catholic and Orthodox were just a little weird (the saints, Mary, the Eucharist, etc.). But even at a very young age, was very troubled by what I saw in terms of division amongst the body: why are there so many denominations if there is just one Jesus? It was so hurtful to me to observe, and still is especially as I consider Jesus’ high priestly prayer (“that they may all be one”) as he prayed for US in John 17. That prayer is for you and me.

    Unity is not only important to Jesus — He points out in that prayer that unity is THE testimony to an unbelieving world about the truth of the gospel. I think that means we should stand up and take notice.

    And what did I hear to my question about so many denominations? “That’s just the way it is …”

    Ho hum. Hardly satisfying.

    Those things I found troubling as an evangelical are now some of my closest held and most cherished beliefs as I find myself in the process of becoming fully Catholic. It wasn’t until I took the time to find out what was really meant that I saw my own error and was able to embrace the fullness of the faith. It was humbling — deeply and truly humbling.

    I can understand and appreciate the statements that tend toward “I have trouble with X doctrine” or “that belief is wrong.” I get it. I’ve been Protestant long enough to have said or thought the same thing myself.

    While I do believe we need to inform ourselves thoroughly, to use our intellects, and to be discerning, I also believe that we can go seriously astray when we start pointing the finger at the beliefs (or appearances of beliefs) within a particular Christian sect. You know, specks and planks and all that. One of my friends put it well when it came to having trouble to digesting certain beliefs or dogmas:

    “What is more likely? That I am wrong, or that 2000 years of teaching and tradition are wrong?”

    This got me at least to consider the question more seriously.

    True ecumenism is not possible without humility — instead of instantly dismissing something as false or just plain whacked out, we need to start asking ourselves that question. And maybe our positions won’t change, but maybe we’ll walk away with a better understanding and a deeper appreciation of the most ancient expression of the faith.

    Obviously, I have a particular point of view here, but I guess what the point is for me is that we’re engaging in these discussions with true humility, with the knowledge that we in ourselves do not possess all the right answers and that saying “doctrine X is wrong and whacked out” should be done with fear and trembling (where X could = Marian dogmas, petitioning the saints for intercession, etc).

    True ecumenism is only possible where true humility has taken root. I love all my brothers and sisters who profess belief in Christ Jesus, and pray that we might all be one — not some esoteric, fluffy, pie-in-the-sky type of unity, but really and truly ONE.

  28. 1 cor seems to depict that divisiveness is sometimes necessary. i guess we just took it and ran

  29. Funny about this topic, All the things I used to think were strictly Catholic, the evangelicals are now doing:

    1. A magisterium
    2. Elders acting as Bishops in authority over others
    3. The Holy Priesthood out the window in favor of a professional clergy class
    4. Infant baptism (many 5 year olds being baptized these days to get the numbers up)
    5. Mary idolatry is replaced with celebrity pastors being idolized
    6. Cathedrals/ mega church campus

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      At least St Mary has a more solid historical track record (and demonstrated staying power) than the celebrity pastor du jour.

  30. This post is ssoooooo right and sssooooooo confusing!!!!

    I’m not gonna go in detail to explain why, but the way I see it is naive to say that catholics are not christians because their core beliefs are faulty (we can endlessly argue about this), BUT is naive to say that evangelicals (or protestants in general) are in the biblical safe zone just because all the “solas” (don’t forget the nicene is tradition, not scripture). On top of that, to say that every single “religious christian” (evangelicals included) that fill the pews of the churches on any given sunday is a child of God…. mmmm we better think twice. What I don’t like is when we comment in a very generalized way (catholics are not, evangelicals are).

    For me is something that goes way beyond the religious establishment to the real interest of God and his Messiah Jesus… People! People! People!

    People of all nations and every tongue will confess Jesus is Lord; this means also in every culture AND (believe it or not) EVERY RELIGION. The way I see it, Jesus doesn’t need to wait for christendom, to put our ecumenist act together and come to a balancing point were we can all agree or be comfortable within and with all christian traditions. I’m definitely not talking of a religious ecumenism but of the spiritual union of those who Christ chose as his own and “called out” to be his church. (He said: I will build my church).

    According to Matthew 7 the day of the Lord will be full of surprises. There will be the ones who will say: Lord, Lord in your name we did this and that…. (could he be possibly talking about our religious performance?)

    I think it’s time that we, who call ourselves christians, learn to look beyond our religious garments and try to find Jesus Christ living his life within people… in spite of their religious traditions and system of theology.

    Peace and Love.

    Hope this wont be MOD out. Hate to be “that guy” again! 🙂

  31. Thank you, iMonk. Your post was a refreshing read.

  32. iMonk, this has been an interesting read. Reading this post and the Bryan Cross interview got me thinking about Christian unity.

    I’ve decided to post some of those thoughts on my blog. Check it out if you’ve got the time.

  33. “Is the Jesus you are following calling you into ecumenical relationships with other Christians? Not evangelistic relationships, but fellowship around a shared Christ, even if not a shared table?”

    So refreshing. I had close friends who completely separated themselves from my husband and I because we became Lutheran. My friend’s mother commented to her that it would be good for her to now have an ecumenical (ie not of the same denomination) friendship with us. They explained to us that their first obligation was now to their church and not to us. We went from A-list friends to a very low ranking consideration (if at all). It has always saddened me that our bond in Christ wasn’t enough to sustain this friendship. Apparently, gluteal promiximity on Sunday mornings is a much higher determining factor.
    We all obviously have disagreements on theological matters – it’s why we all attend different churches every Sunday. But when we answer the question “Who is our neighbor?”, we are not secluded little church “islands”. There are believers in many places and from all walks of life. And even without total agreement, I can open my home, share my table and rejoice in Christ with those of different denominations.