Nothing Justifies Schism

Brett McCracken writes:

N.T. Wright, who is currently working on a massive tome on Paul, to be released “no sooner than 2012,” spoke about unity a lot during the conference at Wheaton. Apparently the overarching theme or argument of his Paul book (the next volume in his magnum opus series that so far includes The New Testament and the People of God, Jesus and the Victory of God, and The Resurrection of the Son of God) is that “the main symbol of Paul’s worldview is the unity of the church.” At various points in the conference he said things like this: “The cross brings together—unthinkably—the slave and the master” (talking about Philemon); “The cross is the place where the unreconcilable can be reconciled;” “The unity of the church is a sign to the world that there is a new way of being human;” “The unity of the church sends a message to the world-be rulers of the world that Jesus is Lord and they are not” (Eph. 3); and “Nothing justifies schism.” (Brett expands upon this in a Christianity Today article)

It is interesting that, broadly speaking, the various ecclesial attitudes toward schism are also reflected in their doctrine regarding divorce and remarriage. Only the Catholic Church maintains the biblical ideal of “no divorce and remarriage” albeit with sometimes abused weasling of annulments.

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6 Responses to Nothing Justifies Schism

  1. Thomas says:

    and a commenter to that posting remarks:

    I was at Wheaton for the Conference too. When Wright said, “Nothing justifies schism,” the audience was shocked out of its laughter (as I remember it). That was probably the most solemn moment of the whole conference.

  2. Thomas says:

    regarding “nothing justifies schism” and ecclesial attitudes, to quote from Wikipedia:

    The Catholic Church treats all consummated sacramental marriages as permanent during the life of the spouses, and therefore does not allow remarriage after a divorce if the other spouse still lives and the marriage has not been annulled. However, divorced Catholics are still welcome to participate fully in the life of the church so long as they have not remarried against church law, and the Catholic Church generally requires civil divorce or annulment procedures to have been completed before it will consider annulment cases. Other Christian denominations, including the Eastern Orthodox Church and many Protestant churches, will allow both divorce and remarriage even with a surviving former spouse, at least under certain conditions. In societies that practiced Puritanism, divorce was allowed if one partner in the marriage was not completely satisfied with the other, and remarriage was also allowed.

  3. Thomas says:

    The christianity today article has this interesting and, I think, insightful comment:

    In some ways, I see the Piper v. Wright struggle as having more to do with ethos than with soteriology. After all, Wright has gone to immense lengths to clarify that he indeed holds to the same view on justification as the Reformers. In particular, I’d suggest that you can classify American evangelicalism into two broad categories: Baptist-like evangelicalism and Methodist-like evangelicalism. There is no such thing, in general, as Presbyterian-like evangelicalism. So, evangelical Presbyterian churches must choose between going Baptist or going Methodist. Ten years ago, it seemed that the Baptists had won. To this point, a friend once jokingly referred to the PCA as “a paedobaptist Synod of the SBC.” Then, along came Tom Wright, who spoiled the Baptists would-be victory party. I’ll be honest, I’m pulling for the Methodists in this fight. Maybe for once, brainpower will overcome democratic populism.

  4. Dan says:

    I didn’t understand much of what you said. Could you clarify it a bit? Did I correctly get that you prefer technocratic to democratic governance?

  5. kentuckyliz says:

    Is Wright tiptoeing the path of Newman?

  6. Thomas says:

    Time will tell

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