Last Round on Oneness

So, why am I going on and on this week about Christian unity?

Because as a follower of Jesus I am commanded to seek it.

And because such unity has never been more important. Christianity in the West is struggling. Its cultural influence hasn’t been lower since the time of Augustine, and more and more of its core practices, in countries throughout the Western world, are coming under legal prohibition or at least restriction. In predominantly Catholic countries around the world Mass attendance has been declining for decades; the mainline Protestant denominations in the U. S. have utterly imploded; in many parts of the globe, the ecstasies of Pentecostalism are giving way to celebrations of the prosperity gospel; the evangelical world in which I lived for so many years has misplaced its impetus and sense of purpose. Never has there been a time when we more desperately need the resources — intellectual and spiritual — and the love of one another.

In response to this situation , megachurch pastors are lying and buying their way onto the New York Times bestseller lists, and/or bullying their staffs into obeisance; Catholic bishops are closing schools and parishes while building magnificent mansions for themselves and continuing to cover up cases of sexual abuse; evangelical and Pentecostal pastors are even more energetically pimping out their homes and freighting themselves with bling in order to become living posters for the Abundant Life; — and my Catholic and Protestant friends alike are delightedly taking snarky potshots at one another across the denominational divides.

Men in power will do what men in power always do. It’s the otherwise thoughtful, serious, faithful Christians who, it seems to me, are fiddling while Christendom burns whose attention I’ve tried to catch with these reflections. But it’s quite obvious from the responses I’ve received on Twitter and via email that no one’s buying what I’m selling here. So I’ll be quiet now; which is not the worst thing to do on Good Friday, anyway.