The Christian Church lasted 1054 years before Rome and Constantinople send excommunication letters to each other – the first major split. 1054 years.
The next official split in the Western Church is often pinned to January 1521, when Martin Luther received his own excommunication letter. This combined with other departures from the Roman Church, including the Lutherans, the Anabaptists, the Reformed, and the Church of England.
Today in Scotland there at least 7 denominations in the Church of Scotland. In South Korea, over 100 Presbyterian denominations.
So like it or not, the Presbyterian Church in Canada comes from a long tradition of church splitting. In fact, we’re experts in the field. In business since at 1521. (And no, don’t use that slogan on your church signs.)
And I see another one coming for the Presbyterian Church in Canada. So here are my points:
- Is it time for this 500 year flurry of splitting to be over? Have the Reformation, and the associated Christian movements, done their thing and can we attach ourselves to something a little larger than an identity of breaking into pieces over nationality, worship practices, differences in theology?
- In the PCC right now, we have the PSALT movement and the Presbyterians for LGBTQ movement. Must this lead to groups of churches leaving the PCC? (It it has in the PCUSA.)
- Is the grace of Jesus Christ big enough for the PCC to remain together or not? I mean, how large is the span of the cross and how deep was that tomb?
- Can we in the PCC live with some ambiguity or must everything be certain for everyone all the time? The early churches for the first 1054 years lived with a huge amount of ambiguity – with at least 10 major schools of practice and thought, including Nestorianism. 1054 years before a split. What are we at in the PCC on same sex marriage and ordination now, 30 years?
- And what will a split in the PCC on this topic achieve? Justice? Right theology? Until the we split again?
- I would like to the PCC not split over this debate. Not have churches leave. I would like to see the PCC to find the risen Jesus in his transformative power enough for us to stay together.
- And so, I would like this in the PCC to become a local decision for each congregation. With ordinations done by the General Assembly, each year? And then each church calling Ministers accordingly. Or some similar working out.
- And I would like the PCC to put its mind on helping the poor and worshipping God in creative and strong ways that transform people.
I mean, remember, we can always split. That’s easy. And we are good at it. But I really think that time is over, and the PCC needs to think about who we might join or which new churches we might plant.