Clement of Rome on Unity in the Church

John ArmstrongUnity of the Church

250px-Clemens_I The church father, Clement of Rome (died c. A. D. 90 to 100), intervened in a local congregational schism while serving as an early church overseer in the first century. Some historians believe that this same Clement was identified by Paul in Philippians 4:3. That may be. Later tradition saw Clement as the third pope, something that I do not believe is terribly clear in the record that we actually possess from the era in which he lived and died. In Clement's Epistle to the Corinthians (this congregation continued to fight and divide long after Paul was deceased) he urged the people of this troubled church to be distinguished by humility. His words are still moving and powerful. His purpose was to call out people who had rebelled against the authority of their presbyters.

Clement wrote that "we should be especially mindful of what the Lord Jesus taught us about meekness and long-suffering: Be merciful, and you will be shown mercy; forgive, and you will be forgiven; as you do, so will it be done to you; as you judge, so will you be judged; as you are kind, so will kindness be shown to you; whatever you measure out will be measured to you (see Luke 6:31-38)."

Christ, said Clement, belongs to those who are humble-minded, not to those who exalt themselves over His flock. He notes: "Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Scepter of the majesty of God, did not come in the pomp of pride or arrogance although he might have done so, but rather in humility." Thus, "In the same way, let the whole Christian body be preserved in peace."

He urges that a "speedy end be put to this schism. He urges the flock to beg the Master to have mercy on them." The point is clear: schism is seen by Clement as a deadly sin and should be treated as such. I pray every day that a growing number of Christians will adopt this same attitude, which I take to be the very mind of Christ. This was holy Clement's view. He was clearly right.