A year-long series of weekly essays re-imagining the Reforming Church. This is not a scholarly effort, crafting neither an ecclesiastical nor a theological system. Rather, it is simply a futurist’s snapshot – it is how I imagine the church proceeding forward through the next decades in the tradition of the Reformation.
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 1:2
The Reforming Church is Ecumenical! The bottom line for the Reforming Church is a genuine and organic partnership with all churches accepting the prophetic commission to serve in the name of Jesus Christ.
Ecclesiastical alliances based on agreements, doctrines, and teachings are hard won, and while the Reforming Church seeks every opportunity to find common ground theologically with other Christian Churches, it accepts that its alliances in service bring the whole Church, in its many divisions, into unity under the name of Jesus Christ.
Even so, the theological and ecclesiastical standards of the Reforming Church are firmly grounded in Scripture. It is this clarity, its strong identity with Jesus Christ in scripture, that allows the Reforming Church to stand in unity with other communions whose ecclesiology differs theologically.
While the Reforming Church lives with the tension that this unity is far from perfect, it declares itself one with the whole Church of Jesus Christ. To do this it first finds affirmations across ecclesiastical communions where there is agreement. Often it is a basic creedal statement that is shared across the communions, such as the Apostles’ Creed. In matters where there is no agreement, the Reforming Church strives for a differentiated consensus in which the various parties acknowledge their differences, and yet choose to stand as one church.
The Reforming Church expresses what it holds to be true theologically without being prejudicial, divisive, misleading, or malicious. It speaks clearly and boldly where it finds agreement with other communions and humbly, in an open spirit, in matters where there is no agreement.
It is in matters of disagreement that The Reforming Church welcomes continuous conversations with dissenting communions. Acknowledging the divide between Churches to be genuine solid places where earnest people stand, the Reforming Church declares unity with all Christian Churches. While it may appear that theological and ecclesiastical differences cannot be bridged, the Reforming Church is tenaciously committed to stand in unity anyway. The Reforming Church is always hopeful that as long as it can continue to walk with the dissenting Churches that God’s Holy Spirit will work in them until they are able to make a common affirmation. In keeping troth with one another, the Reforming Church believes a new consensus can be found.
Despite the struggle to find unity, the Reforming Church is always pointing to the place where the whole Church has found that perfect unity When the Church is serving “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40), this service is the tie that binds the Reforming Church to all other Christian Churches. And whether that unity is symbolic or organic, the Reforming Church willingly binds its hands with all who serve in the name of Jesus Christ.
To the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever!” – Romans 16:27