Today I would like to commend to your attention a post from Alastair at Adversaria on denominationalism in the church.
The Federal Vision is presently a huge controversy in the PCA (Presbyterian Church of America) and the OPC (Orthodox Presbyterian Church). If you don’t know what the Federal Vision is, you probably don’t want to know. Alastair begins his post with a quote from one voice which is asking supporters of the Federal Vision to take pause in light of the fact that a majority of Presbyterians are against it:
Maybe I am weak in my nerves, but when the corporate body of Christ speaks with such unison, I am humbled. Yes, assemblies and counsels may err, but this is the Visible Church speaking here! Aren’t we to have a high regard for the Visible Church? Is she not our nursing mother to feed and nourish us spiritually? Has she not spoken a word of admonition to you? Do you not honor her? Do you not heed the voice of your spiritual mother?
Now, this would be all well and good–IF the PCA and the OPC were synonymous with the visible Church. But here’s the rub–they’re not. They are simply denominations.
In this day and age, we have a proliferation of different denominations, all of which differentiate themselves from the rest of the Church on the basis of what they believe about certain things. And even churches which are not affiliated with any specific denomination are defined by what they are doing and who they are trying to reach. And as we get more and more involved in the world of our own churches and denominations, it becomes easy to think that what God is doing in the world is limited to our own church or denomination.
Alastair counsels us that God is much bigger than our own denomination, and that His kingdom does not begin and end at the boundaries of our church or denomination. He then goes on to offer constructive advice on how to work with those who come from different denominational backgrounds.
I believe that this post is a good word for all of us. Let us remember that the work of God is not limited to those who agree with us in regard to certain esoteric doctrinal formulations. The kingdom of God is not limited to those who fall within our own generation, race, SES (that’s socioeconomic status–one of those education buzzwords coming out again), or whatever target audience our church is trying to reach.
What a shock it will be to go through life thinking that most of the people we see in heaven are going to be people who look, talk, think, and believe just like us–and then to get there and find that we are just a small fraction of the vast diversity that is represented among the people of God.