Monday, January 08, 2007

The Question of Unity and the Emerging Conversation

I was attracted to the "emerging conversation" before becoming Catholic because it was, as far as I could see, a way toward unity - among other things - especially those on the conservative side of the broad spectrum known as "emerging." But I have begun to wonder whether unity is a goal of those who consider themselves emerging Christians - and how large of a goal it is.

I would like my own conversation: A push toward the ordination of women and toward a flattening (or elimination altogether) of authority structures within churches is antithetical to unity. Now perhaps you may unite some Protestant denominations. But in the meantime, the majority of the church will be shoved aside by you - the Catholic and the Orthodox traditions.

At the end of the day, regardless of how much the emerging conversation gets "right," it will get unity wrong. It will continue to foster denominational splintering.

Perhaps it sounds as if I am saying your only viable road is Catholicism or Orthodoxy. Trust me, it is not what I am intending to say - though that will and ought to be the road for some. What I am intending to say is that to advocate for these kinds of issues - issues that will not change in the Catholic Church - then you advocate against future unity. Advocating for women priests is a forked road, not a merging one.

(I would like to pause for a moment and remind everyone that I can be a priest in the Catholic Church no more than a woman can be. Though it seems like it to some, these issues are not about power or control, but about truth.)

I know many who consider themselves "emerging." It is not my desire to say, "It's my way or the highway." It is not about my way at all. But I want to remind my brothers and sisters that the law of believers is love. And unity is a fruit of love. However, once a group attempts to restructure, rethink in such a way as to deconstruct what the Church has always taught, then it ceases to strive for unity and begins walking down the path of heterodoxy. (And this same spirit is found within those who call themselves Orthodox and Catholic.)

So I would implore you not to do so. Just as I would implore you not to procure abortions for your pregnant teenagers or bless domineering men or celebrate lust.

Perhaps this post will seem overly abrasive. If it is, it is only because this group of men and women remain my family, in many respects, and seem to me to be a beacon of hope in Protestant Christianity. I think of you the same way still. Your concern for the poor, the oppressed, and the lost is praiseworthy. But if you wish to change things, consider fully what it is you are attempting to change - and please do not burn any bridges. And forgive me my bluntness.

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