Rodney King’s question (which was actually “Can we get along?”)
is a good one, and it seems that we as a people are completely incapable of doing so. In a recent article in the Detroit Free Press, Ron Dzwonkowski concluded that the answer is no. And to an extent, I agree with him. But let’s think about it just a little.
In her daily devotional 843 Acres, Bethany Jenkins asked a similar question: What is at stake in our unity? She points out that “Jesus prayed specifically for us” when he prayed this: “I do not ask for [the apostles] only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word.” He was praying for unity: “that they be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us.”
She goes on to point out that we are making a mess of it by quoting Christopher Hitchens from thoughts he wrote down while being treated for the cancer that eventually took his life. She points out In one essay, Hitchens–a renowned atheist–offers an insightful observation on Christian unity: “If I were to announce that I had suddenly converted to Catholicism, I know that [two particular fundamentalist evangelicals] would feel I had fallen into grievous error. On the other hand, if I were to join either of their Protestant evangelical groups, the followers of Rome would not think my soul was much safer than it is now …”
Tim Challies has been doing a series on his blog called “The False Teachers“. He includes among the ones he calls out such luminaries as Muhammed, Joseph Smith and Norman Vincent Peale. But he also has included at least two living teachers, namely Brian McLaren and I’m sure outrageously to many, Pope Francis. You can decide for yourself whether you agree with him or not that these are false teachers.
What I want to say to him, to you and to everyone is this: Ron Dzwonkowski, in concluding that the answer to Rodney King’s question is no, assumes that we are unable to submit to Jesus Christ as Lord, as Prophet, Priest and King, and as the Alpha and Omega. I can’t be in complete unity with Brian McLaren because he denies the infallibility of the Bible as the very Word of God. He suggests we accept it as kind of an inspired library. Challies says “He does not see the Bible as God’s inspired, inerrant, infallible, authoritative Word.” Is that a problem? Whether you agree with him or not, it is clear that some people cannot and will not. We therefore cannot be unified unless everyone either submits to the leadership and lordship of McLaren or Jesus Christ.
Pope Francis is a false teacher in Challies opinion because and specifically because he is a Roman Catholic. As such he does not believe that salvation is “by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.” The Roman Catholic church instead says “If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to the obtaining [of] the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.”
So there you have it. There can be no unity ultimately between Evangelicals and Roman Catholics until and unless the Roman Catholic Church and its leaders, including the Vatican and the Pope, submit to God’s Word as the only ultimate authority over all of life. So since large swaths of humanity are unwilling to do that, the ultimate fulfillment of Jesus prayer that He “Make us one, just as the Son and the Father are one, that we together may be in the Christ”, will go as yet unfulfilled.
In my next post, I will address the question of how we can “get along” until That Day comes, when we will all be one.