Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Religious Dissension

It really is something of a spiny horned dilemma, one that centers itself in the issue regarding the bread and the wine offered on the altar – in its presentation by the priest, in its consecration and sanctification by the High Priest who comes miraculously and mysteriously to inhabit the bread and wine, and in those who are able through the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation to share in the reception of the true and living Body and Blood of Christ.

There are, quite naturally, other issues that arise out of this primary one. One of the most significant of them is the ideal that governing spiritual authority was vested in Peter and the other apostle-bishops, and subsequently in those upon whom they laid their hands in ordination.[1] Rejection of Apostolic Authority in the priesthood, the priestly spiritual lineage of leadership traceable back to Peter[2], along with the spiritual authority vested in him by Christ, opens a proverbial Pandora’s Box filled with divisive moths that eat away at the very fabric of the leadership model ordained by Christ.

Authority, of any kind, is a major issue with a lot of people. Especially in this age of independent thinking and living. It’s important to remember that the antithesis of authority isn’t freedom. Far from it. The antithesis of authority is anarchy and when anarchy is the rule of the day nobody is free. Everyone lives in fear, even its promoters and proliferators. The worst possible form of anarchy is the one that births schismatic spiritual dissension.[3]

It is, in my mind and understanding, a climate of spiritual dissension that affects all of us in the realm of modern Christendom. A lot of it appears on the surface to be well-intentioned dissension. But even well-intentioned dissension has a way of getting out of control. It has a way of side-stepping and ignoring historical Church norms and, in their place, fashioning its own sets of congregational and independent norms that more readily allow for individual preferences and human expressions.

The sad and dangerous reality about these replacement-norms in the realm of Christendom is that all of them incorporate the Scriptures as their source to justify their being. The Holy Scriptures, in the multiplicity of their denominational usages and independent interpretations, have sadly become the single greatest tool used by the Enemy to fracture and divide the Church. I hardly think that religious dissension was Christ's holy plan for his Body or God's intentions in giving us the Scriptures.

All of us who take on the nature of Christ, through belief in and profession of him as Savior and Lord, are called to become bearers of the Light.[4] This is a tremendous task and responsibility, one that is exacerbated by the reality that we live in an inherited climate of hostilities created by the fruit of several centuries of religious dissension.

[1] 1 Timothy 4:14
[2] Matthew 16:18-19
[3] RB 1, The Kinds of Monks
[4] Matthew 5:14-16