What does the call to unity stand for? Or, down to earth: where does the rubber meets the road?

Dagen reports about an article in the November issue of the Charisma magazine written by Tomas Dixon concerning Ulf Ekman’s involvement with the Catholic Church. Those who know me and the ministries that I have been involved in during the last 25 years know that I have always been an advocate of unity in the body of Christ. Since the beginning of the 80ties I have related and worked for unity across denominational and cultural borders. Even our own church (www.newlife.nu) is an example of that as people from over 40 nations from all kind of different backgrounds, cultures, ages, and languages experience “togetherness” in Christ Jesus in the centre of Stockholm.

A foundational value that has characterized our church and which I have taught from the early stages on is found in the history of the Moravian Movement (by the way, my view on what church is to be is grounded in numerous teachings and praxis from the beginning stages of the Salvation Army, the Moravian Movement, the Anabaptists and the Methodist church). The Moravian Movement declared:”In essential beliefs we have unity. In non-essential beliefs we have diversity. In all our beliefs we show charity.”

For me the teachings of Jesus as found in the New Testament become alive in this quote… It gives me hand and feet to flesh out the unity Christ called for. It helps me understand where the rubber meets the road; with other words how I can implement true unity.

I have always looked for common ground within essential beliefs among those of a Christian tradition and/or background and have made it my core value to speak and live in such way by affirming this common ground. However, if I have to live as I teach there are obvious boundaries or if you will, limitations to what I can stand for.

The Church political climate in Sweden is such that it is hard to step out of line… after many years of divisions, church-cultural and theological misunderstandings and disunity, the ones who consider themselves “Church” have gone into what I would call “survival mode”. Finally we have started to look at the “essentials” but at the same time have overemphasized the “united front outlook” which removes the differences and hot potatoes which still make us different.

I understand Ulf Ekman’s approach after having been isolated from the rest of the “Church” in Sweden in many different ways (isolation, not only because his/their former approach and teachings, but also because of the unwillingness of the rest of us to understand and embrace them).

What do I want to say? I became converted having a non-believing Roman Catholic background with my whole extended network of former friends and family still within that entity (most of them have remained without faith in Christ and the Bible). I worry when I read in the above mentioned article: In April and October evangelicals gathered in Örebro, Sweden’s evangelical center, to caution against the trend and to point out that unity to Catholics always meant, and still means, bowing to the pope. Bishop Arborelius seemed to affirm that view, saying: “We cannot bypass the personal wish of Jesus that all unity must relate to the apostle Peter,” that is to the papal office… Arborelius continued, “I think that [Ekman and others] now see the key role of the pope as a symbol of unity and the importance of the virgin Mary.”

When reading the quotes by Arborelius I react; here we do not speak about unity in regards to the “essentials” of Christian faith as I see it. These statements call me to a hold. Of course we don’t only deal with the Roman Catholic Church; in our nation we are involved with the different Orthodox churches as well which have their uncompromising views on some of these issues also!

I know it is Church Politically incorrect to even dare touch these issues. Honestly speaking, I can have fellowship with friends in the Roman Catholic Church but some of them have views on the essentials of Christian faith that I know would not be endorsed by the Pope. The fact is that if their views would become publically known by the Vatican that they might be asked to leave the church.

So where does your rubber meet the road? I told you some of my journey, what about yours?

That’s the Way I see it (not necessarily the right way!)

John

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5 responses to “What does the call to unity stand for? Or, down to earth: where does the rubber meets the road?

  1. In Annemasse, France in 1989, I met a Catholic parish priest who was a long-time friend to a friend’s family…He said among other things that he refused to baptize the children of parents who clearly had no faith in Christ or had no intention of being present in the local church afterwards, who were just doing “the culturally correct thing”…He said he could get into water of a hotter temperature if the bishops ever found out…Over the years in that land I met many such men and women who had long ago left practices and beliefs they considered non-Biblical and who sought to live the Gospel as they understood it…They often said “Je suis un peu protestant sur les bords” (I am a bit protestant on the edges)…

  2. Elisabeth Hammarlund-Lorenzsonn

    Preparing the way
    of the Lord or the Anti-Christ?

    True unity has to be the work of the Holy Spirit and based on the Truth as revealed in the Word of God.

    Unity where these ingredients are missing is only based on human effort and is in reality a compromise.

    True unity is a natural consequence of being in Christ together with other believers who are also walking in the light.

    The Pope talked about “unity”, “economic crisis” and a “new world order” in his Christmas address.

    Who do you want to follow?

    I have decide to follow Jesus.
    Jesus said:”Follow me” and I said “Yes”.
    I hope you do too.

  3. Elisabeth Hammarlund-Lorenzsonn

    Please edit the text.
    It should read: I have decided to follow Jesus.

  4. I think that most of the people that are raising their voice against Ulf Ekman is doing that, not because he (Ulf) has started to fellowship with all kinds of different denominations, but because, he is Ulf Ekman.

    They are against everything that he does. 15 years ago, they said that he was against unity, now, they are against that he is preaching unity.

    God bless Sweden and New Life with John Dinther.

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