I am presently writing a book on the unity of the Church. I am impressed, again and again, at how often we turn on other Christians about issues that are not a part of "core orthodoxy." In reading John Calvin
I came across this quote recently:
And in fact, while the Spirit ever teaches us to our profit, he either remains absolutely silent upon those things of little value for our edification, or only lightly and curiously touches upon them. It is also our duty willingly to renounce those things which are unprofitable (The Institutes: I, XIV, 3).
If the Spirit is "silent" it would be a wise course for us to not pursue these things, especially in ways that rend the body of Christ further. Or, as Calvin adds, "
I find those Christians who have a huge amount of certitude about every thing that they believe will not "renounce" the importance of anything they believe since they are sure that every thing they hold to is the will of God and thus the whole Church ought to believe what they believe.
This reminds me of the man who was asked what he believed. He answered, "I believe what my church believes." The questioner pushed him further and said, "What does your church believe?" He answered, "My church believes what I believe."
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You said: “I find those Christians who have a huge amount of certitude about every thing that they believe will not “renounce” the importance of anything they believe since they are sure that every thing they hold to is the will of God and thus the whole Church ought to believe what they believe”
In the same vein, Nietzsche once said “Why do we admire him who is faithful to his convictions and despise him who changes them? I am afraid the answer must be: because everyone assumes that such a change can be motivated only by considerations of vulgar advantages or personal fear.”
In the context of silence, this means that we must be willing to change or “renounce” our views on things that the Spirit itself is silent on. Certitude is not a bastion of hope for those with flawed intellects (i.e. us), for steadfastness to convictions does not always entail courage or bravery; it may very well be a weakness of pride. We have too much of that in the church.
Maybe we should heed the words of the those “pagans” such as Nietzsche. They tend to see us for who we really are and disdain the faith because of it. That is a call for renewal it there ever was one.
John, a fine post. The real enemies are not our orthodox sisters and brothers (in many — or no — denominations) but those who deny core orthodoxy, including the divine authority of the Bible, the finality of our Lord’s blood-shedding, the bodily resurrection, the uniqueness of Jesus as the way of salvation, and so on.