No doubt the subject of church unity will be with us until the Second Coming! However, as Martin Luther once remarked, “Just because the birds fly over your head, doesn’t mean you must let them make a nest in your hair.”
In order to spark some debate, and hopefully Christ-centred action for peace, I’ve posted below some excerpts from a Nobel Lecture given (1937) by the 1930 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Nathan Soderblom. The context in Europe at this time gives added poignancy and relevance to his words. The full address can be found here.
Some questions for discussion:
How do I go about building fellowship and unity among the Christians and their differing denominational affiliations, within my local community?
What are the hindrances to experiencing more peace and less division?
What is the public witness when we do not achieve this peaceful fellowship?
Please feel free to add any other questions to the debate.
“It is my belief that “leaving ourselves in peace” with our self-conceit and evil passions does not lead to real peace. Peace can be reached only through fighting against the ancient Adam in ourselves and in others.”
“…Had we not sung on every Sunday “Glory be to God on high, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men”? Had we not pronounced on every Christmas Day “The boot and the bloodstained cloak worn by the soldier in battle shall be burnt and destroyed by fire… Eternal peace must be secured and sustained by law and justice”?
Many of us in different countries and of different creeds, both in the Old World and in the New, asked ourselves this question and realized that more could be done for peace by a Christendom united at least in its most essential principle: to live according to the commandment of love.”
“The aim was to examine what the different churches could achieve in the struggle against war, and how they could bring about the proper state of mind or climate needed for better international understanding. Reckless nationalism had to be replaced by Christian brotherhood.”
“…We should, therefore, strive with all our might for Christian unity of mankind and we should be generous in our small circles to prove that the brotherly unification of mankind is not an idealistic dream of utopians but a realistic aim, inseparable from the Gospel.” [quoting Adolf von Harnack]
“Will the church in all countries which have concluded such binding agreements decide to apply the biblical doctrines and thus support the Eisenach Resolution? If so, an essential gain will have been achieved for the holy. cause of peace.”
“Christians should not wait for full agreement before they start practicing the duty of love imposed by the Master. The pure light of the Revelation is perceived differently by different eyes, and the church has been divided into many parts by human shortcomings, different historical conditions, and by the church’s neglect and distortion of doctrines during certain periods of time. While we on the one hand pursue long-range discussions concerning our holy faith and the church ordinances, we must, on the other hand, follow immediately the command of our Master.”