Thursday, July 05, 2007

Exporting schism

This is just painful to read.

During the 19th century, various European states forcibly united divided churches. A similar thing happened in Zaire in 1970. Mbiti writes, "the Eglise du Christ au Zaire . . . brought together Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Disciples and a host of other Protestant traditions." The Church of Christ became the only recognized Protestant body in Zaire, but "the member churches (or Communautes, as they are called) have much freedom to function more or less according to their former traditions."

Mbiti is not sure this is good for the church, but he suggests that Zaire might send a warning that "if church leaders and decision makers are slow to consummate unions ecclesiastically and theologically, governments may take the leads and demand unity among the churches or even enforce it politically and administratively."

Despite his doubts, he says that if this happens "I shall not be the first to shed tears over it."
Lord, pour your grace upon us, make us to grow in you, and fill us with the Spirit, that we may mature into your deliverers of your gospel, of your justice, that we may begin the cleanup of the messes we continue to make.

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