I'm tired of being a Protestant. I'm tired of being classed as a Protestant. I'm a member of The Church, which Paul so carefully defines in Hebrews 12. I love The Church! What is there left for me to protest. I seek with all my heart to obey and follow every law, principle, rule, and statute of this Kingdom, by faith. The Church fills my daily meditations and prayers. There is nothing else in heaven or on earth that is quite like The Church. It is the place where I find fellowship and friendship with God; Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. It is the place where I am taught the Bible. It is the place where I meet with angels and with the fathers and mothers who have gone before me.
Yet, when I come to put these thoughts into actions, I am met with hopeless confusion: 30,000 denominations claiming to be The Church; some even claiming to be the Only Church.... Yet, none of them are.
The Holy Ghost is given to all Christians without exception. Thus, Pentecost, 33 AD, is the defining moment of history. It is the birth of The Church. It declares the seating of Jesus Christ on the throne of David. It brings real power to powerless man. It makes sense out of Paul’s words in Hebrews 12.
The Church is not The Church until it speaks as One Church, with One Voice. Let's not take this principal and paste it on hymnals claiming false and Pyrrhic victories. The Church always speaks with One Voice; so, until this becomes true again on earth, we are in serious trouble. We cannot possibly be in submission to The Church.
How did such a root of bitterness spring up among us? How can we bring such division to an end? What must we do to find healing? Was it the Counter-Reformation (1545-1648) that started this wrangling? Not hardly. The Counter-Reformation sought to bring about reconciliation, but failed. Was it the Reformation (1517-onward) that began this debacle? Not hardly. The Reformation merely precipitated a fight that was already brewing. The Reformation, however, has the distinct disadvantage of making reconciliation nearly impossible. The critical defining moment, I believe, is the Council of Florence (1431–1449), which nailed the lid shut on the coffin for the Conciliar Movement. Unless we return to the Conciliar Movement we cannot be reconciled.
The Conciliar Movement requires that we confess our sins against each other, wash each other's feet, forgive, and bury forever those old wounds, now festering for over 500 years. The Conciliar Movement requires that we establish safeguards and rules, so that no individual or set of individuals can attempt to wrest the reins of The Church from Christ and the Holy Ghost; no, not ever again. The Conciliar Movement requires that everyone who has received the Holy Ghost be given a voice, One United Voice. This will always be a struggle until Jesus returns. It was a struggle in 325, but the Council of Nicaea found a way to make progress: even though at least one fist fight broke out there. Where is your voice?
This is not a tirade against the Roman Catholic Church or against the Papacy. This is a tirade against Protestantism, in all its 30,000 forms, which has done more than anybody else to try to snatch the reins of The Church from Christ and the Holy Ghost. I'm tired of being a Protestant. I have nothing left to protest. I surrender. I lay down my life at the feet of Christ. But where does this leave me? Where does this leave us?
The Orthodox stormed out of Florence and have steadfastly refused to return to the table, insisting that they alone have fullness. This is an interesting Orthodox code word that is difficult to understand. It means that the Holy Ghost gives His fullness only to the Orthodox Church. This is a roundabout way of declaring that the heterodox do not have any of the Holy Ghost’s fullness. Since, the Holy Ghost defines The Church at Pentecost, 33 AD, it is difficult to see how the heterodox can be members of The Church, even as departed and estranged brothers and sisters. In other words, the heterodox cannot possibly be Christians at all. Fortunately, many Orthodox reject this extreme idea; even though that is exactly what having fullness means. This is why many Orthodox require converts to renounce the west and be re-baptized. Even where re-baptism is not required, this is still the meaning: because, the “economia” of Orthodoxy takes the empty, worthless rites of the west and overcomes them and their defects with fullness. Well, we will never find reconciliation on this path, will we? This too, is a grappling after the reins of The Church, to take them from Christ and the Holy Ghost.
Fortunately, God is omnipotent, so that no one is able to pluck either the reins or us from His hands. Still, it would be nice to walk into the doors of any church, profess Christ, make confession as necessary, and receive communion as a brother or sister. It would be nice if this root of bitterness simply dissolved into thin air and was soon forgotten.
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