(from Peter TeWinkle on the Guest Blog)
It’s nice to read that the theme of this year’s General Synod was unity. It’s unfortunate that the reports and anecdotes I’ve heard since then were anything but unifying. So, “what events would have to take place and what problems would have to be addressed for the RCA to experience genuine, vibrant, Christ-pleasing, Spirit-filled, God-glorifying unity?"
1.) Admit that we do not trust one another in the RCA. This is not just a denominational problem. It is a symptom of our larger society. Mobility and social media have allowed us to be surrounded by like-minded people and the result is suspicion of differing views. It lurks around every corner. Democrats and Republicans don’t trust one another. White people and black people don’t trust one another. Young people and old people don’t trust one another. Rather than get to know one another and find common ground, people tend to hunker down in their respective camps and demand uniformity in belief and behavior. Uniformity is not unity. My wife and I are united, but we are certainly not uniform in our beliefs or our behaviors. Still, even if we disagree, we always trust that our partner begins with good intentions and give each other space to learn and grow. It would be nice to have that in our denomination as well.
2.) Remove cultural boundaries. Our denomination continues to struggle with unity because, like the first churches, we have a hard time telling the difference between cultural and theological boundaries. Cultural differences, gender roles, and socio-economic statuses prevent us from coming together as one in Christ Jesus. The church is the body of people who confess that Jesus is Lord (or God’s Son or Anointed One or Messiah, etc.) and believe in their hearts that God raised him from the dead. This is what it means to be Christian, Reformed or otherwise; probably not more and definitely not less.