I guess I need to start off with an apology for a scandal. My scandal and many others’ scandal who call themselves Christians is that we are divided. This has been a subject of criticism from many who do not participate in Christian community. I word it as “who do not participate” because there are Christians out there who do not participate in Christian community thinking that the basic bread and butter is something complex and man made.
What I hope to do in these three blogs is add some thoughts to de-scandalize the readers and afflict the comfortable. Maybe even comfort the afflicted that feel weighed down by that which is dry tradition and/or very complex regarding the kingdom of God.
Some years ago I was speaking with my 19-year old daughter about her schedule that coming week and she bashfully disclosed a new term to me called RCIA. She slowly elaborated when I asked that this was Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. She and I were both Protestants and I was not disturbed but other people in her life had. I assured her that it was fine and brought to her attention the Council of Nicea.
So now its time to bring to mind what the Council of Nicea and what it means. In 325 tree was an end to a theological civil war. One side of bishops saw Jesus as both divine, consubstantial with the Father (of the same essence), and eternal. The other side, the Arians, said “There was a time where He was not”. Long story short the former won out and the other side was greatly reduced and eventually died out. The winning side, in unity with the Bishop of Rome, had a creed ratified called The Nicean Creed.
For some readers you may have heard this. For those that have not, here it is.
I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.
Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.
And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.
And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
Simple enough? This can always be read and reflected upon by Christians of good conscience among Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox believers. Protestants can read this fervently if it is interpreted in the most basic senses. Catholic comes from kata and holos meaning “with respect to the whole”. When I went to a Protestant church in Portland called Imago Dei the apt phrase they used was “taking the whole gospel to the whole world to the whole person”. That is very much the spiritual and universal health plan of God. All who embrace the Nicene Creed embrace a practical and holy Jesus along with the members of the Body. This is the picture of Orthodox thinking (orthos-doxa) as Jesus wants.
But Christians are called to be Evangelical. This is a walk in grace that is not dependent on coming from a Protestant tradition. Evangelical comes from evangelion which was not only good news but the announcement of the coming Roman emperor. The news for the world, especially from a united Body, is that Jesus is Lord, He loves them and wants to reign in their hearts. What is stopping us? Pride? Juicy tidbits about how one side silted the other? Maybe true, false or in between?
Ultimately the scandal is that there is one prayer of Jesus that is not currently being fulfilled. “I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me” (John 17:20-21).
Now again I address the prodigals out there. Sinners in the universal church of Jesus, I being one of them, may have betrayed you. Being the prodigal who comes home may not be appealing. It may be scary. But I encourage you despite the confusion that you have a place at the table of Jesus by which is shown the Father. Come and listen for Jesus through the fallible people preaching or sitting next to you. You may even be used to being listened to. The point is that salvation is an individual and big picture process. The bringing together of people in Jesus happens by His hand but in cooperation with the believers in different levels.
So come home to the simplicity of devotion to Jesus in the Catholic Church, Orthodox Church or Protestant Church (presented alphabetically by design). But just come home. Even if you are a long standing sitter in a pew. Jesus and the family need you.
Tony Palmer and Pope Francis. The first several minutes have a charismatic feel but then it gets meaty very fast.
The next link is for John 17 the Phoenix based movement. This includes Baptists, Catholics, Charismatics praising and teaching together on the essentials of Christianity. There are differing views represented but they leave those to the theologians.