Monday, 30 April 2012

Disagreement in the Church

Church history is mostly about the consequences of disagreement. From synods to heretics to sectarian war, our history begins with a disagreement about something. I remember writing a paper on the filioque clause, without the context of the history behind it, and finding a conclusion at the end. Afterwards I read up on the changes in the ecclesial landscape that resulted from it and shook my head in wonder.

Don't get me wrong, I understand that the early church wanted to lay out markers for what counted as Christian and what didn't. It's unfortunate that their solution was to write creeds and require people to uphold them. It seems to fly in the face of Jesus' own teaching that people will know Jesus' disciples because of the love they have for each other (Jn 13:35). The move from loosely organised disciples to an institutionalised church has created some baggage: creeds.

I know I'm a victim of the books I've read, but I can't help think that Badiou's analysis of Paul's work presents us with a solution. There is a single truth that creates the subject and which binds the movement together: Jesus is risen. This is the truth that supports Jesus as Christ* and which gives support to Jesus' teachings, especially about law and love.

And really, love is what unifies us. Everything else is opinion. We all have opinions about how to interpret certain passages of scripture, but they cannot override the command to love. We should also be able to debate and discuss any disagreement with our fellow believers without ever compromising the core unifying spirit of Christ. My hope is to be in a church that encourages these kinds of discussions. I want to work these things out with other believers to understand how we should best live out the commands to love.

* Yes yes, I know that Peter said it before Jesus was crucified. That's a post for another time. The point here is that Paul makes this faith claim and derives his theology from there.

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