theology

Struggling with Church Fragmentation

10 Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose. 11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. 12 What I mean is that each of you says, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.” 13 Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one can say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power. -1 Corinthians 1:10-17

This verse has been at the center of my thoughts for quite a while now. I’m not sure why I’m so hung up on division in the church, but for years, since I first read this passage, I’ve been questioning denominations in the church. A split church is not what was originally intended for the church, and while I don’t think the Catholic Church has everything right (if this junction in history shows us anything, it is that it is very much broken), but there is something to be said for the original, unified, True Church. I want to be Catholic, but I have a number of problems with their theology that I just can’t reconcile. Now the question is, what is more important, a single unified church that I have minor theological differences with? Or this slippery slope that the Christian church is currently going down into further fragmentation of disunity.

But then I think, what is so important about the unity of the Church? I know that verse speaks quite strongly to me, but what about the arguments raised during the Protestant Reformation? Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, they all had valid points. But they opened up this can of worms that can’t be closed. These days if someone has a problem with the theology of a church, they just walk down the road. They find another church that fits with their current idea of what a church should be. That is not what church is about. Church isn’t supposed to be easy. Christianity isn’t supposed to be easy. You can’t just up and leave the moment you don’t like something. There is something so wrong about that.

Seriously though, why the importance of a unified church? What does it matter which denomination you go to? Or what you believe, as long as you hold to the basic tenets of Christianity? Tenets I believe are layed out quite well in the Nicene Creed. It, along with the Apostle’s Creed, are by no means perfect, but they set some pretty standard ground rules, that if believed, allow one to be called Christian.

So here I sit right now. This just scratches the surface of everything I’m thinking about right now, but it is kind of a big deal in my head. So I’ve been doing a ton of research, and talking to people, and thinking about things. And I’m sure this will continue to be something that sits at the front of my consiousness as I go through my days, and hopefully I’ll start sorting things out.

Below is the Apostle’s Creed and Nicene Creed from the Common Book of Prayer.

Apostle’s Creed
I believe in God the Father Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth:
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
Born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, dead, and buried:
He descended into hell;
The third day he rose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost;
The holy Catholick Church;
The Communion of Saints;
The Forgiveness of sins;
The Resurrection of the body,
And the Life everlasting.
Amen.

Nicene Creed
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 his 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, and for our salvation came down from heaven,
And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost 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 sitteth on the right hand of the Father.
And he shall come again with glory to judge both 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 proceedeth from the Father and the Son,
Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified,
Who spake by the Prophets.
And I believe one Catholick and Apostolick 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.

10 Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose. 11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. 12 What I mean is that each of you says, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.” 13 Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one can say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power.
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