Tuesday, 2 February 2010

A shared view of the gospel?

On Saturday night I was talking to friends who had been involved in a Methodist church. They mentioned that this church had a congregational meeting where my friends saw that the views held by the congregation were very diverse. They wondered how the church could chart a way forward when they had such differing opinions.

John Stott writes, 'Only loyalty to the gospel can secure unity in the church.' A fellowship needs to be committed to a shared view of the gospel if it is doing to have any direction and purpose. But do we live at a time when we can't even agree on what the gospel is?

6 comments:

Nick said...

I agree totally with Stott. We are very quick to try and build relationships with other churches just because they have Christian on the label. We ought to be building relationships with churches that after we have stripped of the label we discover a content that is full of common gospel intention. What I mean by Gospel intention? Where we share a desire to actively put the kingdom into the lives of people....certainly not trying to bless their pets.

Mister Spence said...

I agree with Nick (and, by proxy, Stott). However, we have to be careful. In following that course we could end up like those fellowships that condemn traditional institutions by quoting "Why look for life among the dead?"

If I was an individual looking at the Methodist Church in Ireland from the outside, I would probably say "What's that got to do with Jesus?" (in fact, I often do say that).


I was thinking about this today, particularly in relation to Ecumenism. It reminded me of 1 Corinthians 3. Paul's frustration with the factions, and his admonishment:
"For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ."

We can be in fellowship with anyone who truly loves and follows Christ. We may disagree with their interpretation and their outworking, but where we can agree on Christ we have the opportunity to earnestly seek him together.

I wonder, also, if this common purpose can only be found– should only be sought– in individuals, rather than institutions.

To whom it may concern said...

Thanks for your comments Nick and Spence.
Paul

Sam Campbell said...

I've been reading Wesley's 44 sermons. In 'The Catholic Spirit' herefers to Jehu's question to Jonadabin 2 Kings 10:15 - 'you and I think alike. Will you support me?'
Wesley notes that Jehu does not ask about Jonadab's religious beliefs, which were evident considering Jehu still worshipped the golden calves. Wesley goes on to say that no one should dictate that a particular form of worship should be used by all.
I think this is a good basis for fostering good relations with other denominations.

To whom it may concern said...

Sam,
Who is this guy Wesley? Is he the man of the 4 sermons and 44 alls?
Paul

SAM CAMPBELL said...

You know Wesley. He was one of the 4 musketeers - 'all for 1 and 1 for all!'