Is Christ Divided?

The eyes of the world — the church world at least — were on the United Methodist Church's called General Conference in February (see report). Would they be able to resolve their deep conflicts and stay together? After the Methodists voted, attention moved on. In these conflicted days, there will always be new occasions to wonder about finding peace in polarized times. In the midst of this, the Board of PSALT lifts up Christ's promises to His church.

“Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Corinthians 1:13 NIV) The Apostle Paul posed these rhetorical questions to the divided church at Corinth. In our humanity, we are tempted to identify our unity in various human groupings and categories. But our true unity comes the fact that Christ “died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” (2 Corinthians 5:15) We were baptized in the name of Christ, not of any human leader or teacher.

When we were baptized into Christ, we were baptized into one catholic church: “There is one body and one Spirit — just as you were called to one hope when you were called — one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:4-6) These terms describe our unity in Christ. Together with the faithful church through all ages, we hear the call to conduct ourselves “in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ … [standing] firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel.” (Philippians 1:27)

Whatever changes or challenges swirl around Christ's church, we share this confidence: “God's solid foundation stands firm” (2 Timothy 2:19a). We stand with the church around the world and through the ages on the promise from the Sermon on the Mount: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24-25)

We are convinced that the unity of the Church is a gift of Jesus Christ and does not depend on the work of any human committee to defend it. Groups of church people cannot determine whether we are united in Christ, but they can determine how we are united. They can set the tone and tenor of how we live together in the Body of Christ.

We are convinced that the unity of the Church is bigger than any particular human organization. We have experienced that unity with Christians in the United Church, in the Roman Catholic Church, in the Baptist Church, in many other denominations. We have found that unity without requiring them to become Presbyterians; we have found a unity of the Spirit as we pursue our unique callings, affirming the things that we have in common and learning in the things where we disagree. And we are convinced that this unity can continue to grow and deepen.

With regard to our specific situation in the Presbyterian Church in Canada, we have been and continue in prayer for the members of the Special Committee of Former Moderators as they have worked on their report. We will continue to be in prayer for the Presbyterian Church in Canada as we receive their report. And we pray that in the years ahead, we will find a way to follow our unique callings with integrity as members of the family of Christ.