Local Church Unity

I’ve just written on the Unknown blog about local church unity, drawing from the 1649 Cambridge Platform of the Massachusetts Congregationalists. This, I think, can be a starting point for considering how to foster unity between the church assemblies of a given area.


One response to “Local Church Unity

  1. Hi Lue-Yee,

    You bring up a number of problems that are quite complex. How to answer cultural differences compounded by doctrinal? Most upsetting is the “quiet divorce” that often passes for spiritual unity. We’re really grabbing at loose ends. That’s what makes this day and age so depressing.

    The Cambridge Platform sounds a lot like James Jordan’s ecclesiastical proposals found in his 1984 book, Sociology of the Church. There needs to be a common discipline. That’s bottom-line. However, to get there people have to talk “nuts and bolts”, and be willing to share each other’s burdens. Unfortunately, this often becomes a set of empty platitudes unless churchmen are forced to live under the same roof.

    ACNA is a last-ditch attempt to rescue North American Anglicanism. What’s interesting about it is the federal structure adopted. Each diocese has entered the ‘communion’ as a distinct entity with a lot of autonomy. This has very strong resonance with the 1649 Platform above. Many ACNA dioceses have little in common theologically, but because their clergy must sit together in synod, this has created some needed cross-pollination. Rather than getting broiled down in doctrinal dispute, conflict has been dampened by focusing on mission, and this seems successful in containing our more hairy differences. We’ll see how long.

    Anyway, I think there needs to be a bit more than pure voluntarism behind unionism, and perhaps the place to start is between churches that have some confessional commonalities? For example, many conservatives have left the mainline at different points in time over the last century. Perhaps they should make attempts to form a common synod, make mission a priority to deflect narrow doctrinal difference, and then proceed to slowly hammer out distinctions? Anyway, my experience is unless there is some kind of covenant that makes folks partially accountable, ecumenical goodwill doesn’t translate to concrete action. The Cambridge Platform is an excellent start, and I’m interested in an elaboration on the first point, namely, how conferences can do a bit more than pass resolutions. ACNA is not quite beyond the ‘resolution’ stage. The danger is we become a provincial Lambeth.


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