…that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me…
The Church today has altogether stopped believing in the unity of the Body of Christ. Much less have we vied to realize that beautiful prayer of Jesus, made hours before His execution. After generations of denominational splits, in the wake of post-modern privation of faith and life, and in our desperate attempts to hide from the love of God which is Christ Jesus, by clinging to our own fear and hatred we know so well… we have rejected the Son of God’s dying wish.
We do not want unity. Yet it is not unity itself we hate… it is the sacrifice and humility before God and others we loathe. We may, like San Francisco hippies from the 70’s, easily preach love and peace—but that is because they are empty and easy words. For when the reality of those words—the reality of unity hits us, we hide like cowards: back to our own fear and hatred.
I chose Wake Forest University School of Divinity for numerous reasons, but a primary reason is that at its very core, the school is “ecumenical in outlook”. Ecumenical means “promoting or relating to unity among the world’s Christian churches”. It is a global Christian movement to bring all of Christianity back towards each other in love and unity. The school does not have a “statement of faith” (that each professor must sign each year etc). Instead, they suffice it to say they are “Christian by tradition, Baptist in heritage, and ecumenical in outlook”.
The ecumenical aspect at divinity school has been one of the many blessings I have discovered at Wake. I am studying scripture and theology with Pentecostals, Baptists and mainline Protestants. I am conversing with blacks, whites, men and women, and homosexuals. From conservative to moderate to liberal, we are all here seeking the truth of the gospel, and to prepare ourselves for our vocational calling in the Kingdom of God.
The simple fact is that I disagree and disapprove of much that I hear and see at this place amongst my fellow students. I and we all maintain and utilize that right to disagree, respectfully. We are all united by Christ and the gospel… though that may look slightly or even largely different from person to person.
Some of my friends have encouraged me for this chapter of my life. They have said accurately, that Wake will be a place where I can both grow, but also be a prophetic voice of change. They have expressed confidence in me to uphold the integrity of my faith in the face of sometimes-stark foils.
Others have expressed anger over me being part of an institution that is infected with students with loose morals and differing faith traditions. They seem particularly leery of “fags” (yes, that word was once used) who are at seminary to study scripture and to try to reconcile their faith to their sexual orientation. I find this incredibly anti-gospel, and frankly, a bit immature.
We must on one hand be open to change, for God can only create ex nihilo, out of nothing (gen.1.1-2). On the other hand, we must be grounded in our relationship to Christ and our own faith tradition to know where to stand and not be cast about by the shifting winds of culture and “good ole fashioned heresy”. It is Jesus prayer that we cast aside not our differences, but our arrogance, fear, and hatred to be unified with one another, just as They are unified in the Trinity.
I pray that we can all begin to love the Gospel so much, that we are willing to converse, heck, even go to seminary—with people who seem incredibly different and perhaps even sinful to us. It is for this the blood of Jesus was shed. May His sacrifice not go unnoticed.