Archive for the ‘Ecumenism’ Category

At my church we’re currently hosting a cricket tournament.

Basically, a few friends were bored in the wet and cold winter months, and decided to convert the church hall (which was already carpeted) into an indoor cricket facility. One thing led to another, and suddenly we were hosting a tournament with 10 teams from all over the city and had sparked a community of over 100 people (and probably a dozen nationalities) who get together up to three times a week to hang out and play some friendly (but very competitive) cricket.

Which got me thinking about denominations.

See, although most of the matches take place on Wednesday and Thursday nights, we sometimes use Sunday as a make-up day. One of the other teams involved in the tournament is from another local church, and they are the only team which doesn’t play the Sunday games – because their pastor said they shouldn’t. On the other hand, my church is actively running a competition on Sundays.

And that is why I love the diversity of denominations in the Church.

The defining criterion for inclusion into the Church is pretty simple: if you affirm the three ecumenical creeds, you’re a Christian church. This benchmark for inclusion does two important things:

Firstly, the creeds describe the primary doctrines which define Christianity. They set the minimum requirement: if you are not willing to sign on to everything in the creeds, you’re not a Christian church.

Secondly, the creeds set the limits as to which doctrines may be considered primary. If it’s not in the creeds, it does not affect inclusion into the Church.

This is incredibly important.

The primary articles of faith give us a common understanding on which to base our discussion. If I accept the divinity of Jesus and you insist that he was merely human, we are starting from fundamentally different points, and until that division is reconciled we can go no further.

But having accepted the primary articles, the Church can tolerate disagreement on any other issues. There is space within it to discuss, to debate, and even to diverge. We don’t need to have common consensus on everything, and Christians do not need to be carbon copies.

Because we all accept the primary doctrines as a common foundation, there is diversity without division.

Infant baptism or adult?

We can agree to disagree.

Purgatory, annihilationism or universal reconciliation?

We can agree to disagree.

Transubstantiation or symbolic fellowship?

We can agree to disagree.

Young-Earth creationism, guided or Darwinian evolution?

We can agree to disagree.

I’ve prayed in ancient cathedrals, and had communion on top of a mountain.

I’ve had attended church services with incense and Latin liturgies, and also services consisting entirely of freestyle drumming.

I’ve been to churches where they use grape juice for the Eucharist, and churches where they’ll buy you a beer after the service.

I’ve experienced the inspiring beauty of monastic Taizé singing, and I’ve worshipped with electric guitars.

Within the sprawling, expansive, vibrant and all-embracing Church, there is space for the traditionalist and the radical, for the poet and the scientist, for the broken and the lost.

There is space for me.

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Note: This essay was originally posted on Spiritual Meanderings.