Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Church History and Unity

"We spend most of our time studying the history of the reformation. This is in turn informs the way we do church and relate to poeple from other churches. We have a whole heap of baggage from the reformation, when the church was literally at war with each other. Instead, we should spend more time reading and studying early church history. It's an overlooked part of our history, but extremley important. It is when many of our major doctrines were first articulated and developed. And church leaders did so in unity and consultation with leaders from other church cultures and contexts. Maybe we should look to the history of the early church to inform how we should relate to Roman Catholics and other groups."

- Peter F. Jensen, at a recent gathering of MTS people for the Newcastle region of NSW.

Well, I was impressed by this statement that Peter made.

5 comments:

Bruce Yabsley said...

Peter (and I use his first name because we are acquainted) is an example to the diocese in this matter and I wish the example would be more closely followed. It's very difficult to imagine a clergyman in this town under forty (maybe even under fifty) who will go on public record speaking as warmly of the Roman church (in addition to individual Roman Catholics) as will the archbishop. You can argue whether his policies chime with this personal view or not, but it's a big improvement on the anti-Catholicism that seems to be packaged up with "commitment to the gospel" here.

lachlanb said...

When I read PJs quote it reminds me of Oden's "The Justification Reader." He too argues for an ecumenical approach based on the early Xian stuff. Of course for Oden (and perhaps for Peter too- I don't know) the idea is that not much protestant doctrine needs to be given up in this situation. Rather the hope seems to be that such a return will lead to a renewed RC understanding of the big issues based on something less fiery than the reformation.

byron smith said...

Nice quote - it might also help to study more recent history too!

byron smith said...

Bruce - you don't need to imagine; they do exist. :-)

Bruce Yabsley said...

Yeah, Byron, I know they exist, but ...

I don't know, I wonder if the saying about the exception proving the rule has some application here.

The relation between local evangelical Christianity and the sciences maybe provides a point of comparison. If you go to Peter's predecessor as College principal, you find he was a creationist. If you go back another two principals again, you find he was an Orangeman. Now of course Peter is neither of those things --- quite the opposite, actually --- and his own positions are heartfelt. But the church as a whole? One is not supposed to merely stop sinning: one should ... what is the word? Oh yes: repent.