Invitation to Life – leave your nets

It is pretty much universally acknowledged, that it was Christendom which first created and then cemented into place a two tier expression of Christian life. There were those Christians who had ‘a vocation’ and those who didn’t.

This separation appears to have had its roots in the flight, out of the world and into the desert following the Constantinian settlement. Alert souls became aware that as Christian faith was normalised, all of life seemed to be ‘baptised’ and that this had a profoundly negative impact upon faithful Christian living. They thus had to leave the city, a world where to be Christian was synonymous with being a good citizen, and go out into the desert. Over the years, this separation became institutionalised in the Monasteries, which led in part to our contemporary understandings of ‘Clergy’ and ‘Laity’. Those who are called ‘into the church’ and those who are not. Such a view of Vocation also changed our understanding of Baptism.

Having baptised the world, Our Baptism became of little significance. It was reduced to ‘a public demonstration of faith’, or a family ritual. The end product was the same. Baptism no longer required a renunciation of the world – there was no need to leave anything behind. Thus 1700 years later, many contemporary candidates for Baptism, if they dream of going on to university and business career, with wonderful holidays and a rich family life thrown in for good measure, never imagine that Baptism might in any sense affect the story they hope to write for their life. And often, an emaciated theology does nothing to disrupt their fond imaginings, or indeed wake them from their slumbers once the Sacrament has been applied. We may well be in a post Christendom world, but our theology of Baptism is still mired in the Christendom way of thinking. Cheap Grace, Dietrich Bonhoeffer called it

Like couples who live together before getting married, the Before and the After of baptism, like the Before and the After of ‘The Big Day’, was and remains, demonstrably the same in most cases. In this respect we are completely blind-sided by arguments over ‘believer’s baptism’ vs ‘infant baptism’. There is little in the praxis or teaching of the church of whatever denomination, to suggest that Baptism requires to change the way we live out most of our lives, apart from a few moral injunctions. Having tacitly agreed this, we carefully arrange our theology to suit.

[Perhaps another time I may write a little more about how Theology is taken captive by our desire to ignore the command to follow Christ]

As a result of this we have those in the church who give up careers etc to ‘go into the church’, and those who don’t. That in itself is bad enough, but we then further compound the error by a way of thinking about the church that re-inforces the sense that this is the way it is to be. The role of the minister is to look after the flock by tending to various trials and traumas and teaching timeless spiritual truths to edify the soul, not to call everyone else similarly to leave the lives they have so carefully arranged for themselves and likewise follow Christ. In this, those of us who are ordained often conspire with the rest of the church in not rocking the Christendom boat . . . I mean “we can’t all leave our nets behind, can we!”

Yet Hearing the gospels, try as we might, we cannot avoid the radical nature of the call of Christ. To leave nets, to leave everything to follow Him – trusting that our Father in heaven will in truth provide all we need – “homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields, and with them, persecutions” (In other words physically and socially, not ‘spiritually’) . We cannot fail to note the radical discontinuity between the life of the disciple of Jesus of Galilee and its contemporary expression. We have developed a ‘spiritual’ gospel which requires nothing of us at all – which takes the ‘following Christ’ out of the ‘believing in Christ’. And where the church is wealthy this can  still be readily played out as if it was the honest truth and blessed by God, but where it is not, or where the money is fast running out, it is revealed for what it is, a Lie. And we all know where Lies come from.

BUT . . . WE CAN’T ALL LEAVE OUR NETS BEHIND! . . . can we . . . ? ? ?

Can we?

Seek first God’s kingdom, and all these things will be given you

Of course, Christendom is dead – even if many churches still only acknowledge this purely in theory and not yet in practise. Yet where the Christendom church has all but ‘croaked’ there are, here and there, signs springing up that the Life that is to be found in following Christ and trusting our Father to provide for our material needs. Interestingly and indeed encouragingly here in the Anglican Church in New Zealand, it is Bishops, the Apostles amongst us, called to embody the life and the mission of the church, who are making the headlines

First there were of course the Earthquakes in Christchurch, which apart from the desperate tragedy of so many deaths and the way in which lives have been scarred emotionally and permanently, has brought down the Cathedral of that city. Although demolition orders are now passed, still there are those who want this solid sign of God’s presence to be rebuilt. After all the city is Christ Church . . . but the church under the leadership of its Bishop, Victoria Matthews sees that God in the midst of this upheaval is about something new. As the old order is passing away . . .

Secondly in my own diocese, the effect of the Christchurch earthquake has been felt in terms of the financial cost of significant rises in insurance for church buildings, which may well be the final blow for some congregations, and on top of that the requirement for earthquake strengthening which may prove too much to bear for others . . . and we are few . . . Yet again in these events our Bishop, Kelvin Wright hears God speaking to his people, calling them to a deeper commitment to Christ as many of the last vestiges of Christendom are being swept away, all but overnight

The third Bishop, is only just this moment in post – the newest bishop in the world 🙂 – the new bishop of Wellington Diocese, The Right Reverend Justin Duckworth. Justin is not your typical episcopal candidate, and for those of you who are curious, I’ll leave you to use the mighty power of Google to find out more :). However one way in which Justin is untypical not only of many Bishops, but indeed of most Christians is the way in which he and his wife Jenny have for the last 20 years lived in a radical dependence upon God our father to provide. At the heart of their story which you can read about in their book, was a determination to follow the call of Christ. This led them to live and work amongst the urban poor and indeed more. They set aside their dreams, they set aside the typical life which anyone of their background would expect to be held by and largely be able to live out, of stable careers and trips overseas and more and trusted in Christ to lead them where he would and His Father to provide.

What they found was that their needs were taken care of. Not through lots of fat cheques falling through their letter box from those ‘working in the real world to support those called to mission’, (although I am sure there were a few of these), but by putting their work with young people and those in difficult circumstances first. Only then did they work out how best they could earn a penny or two around the fringes of this work. They put Christ at the heart of their lives and the work they needed to do to provide their basic needs was relegated to their spare time. In other words they turned inside out the way Christendom has taught us to live, which is first to look after your own needs, and then to do what you can to further the kingdom in your spare time. [Of course we have further diluted the call of Christ by a convenient theology which allows that Everything we do is part of God’s work in the world, but as I said, we like to shape theology to our lives rather than have to conform our lives to a new reality] They left their nets and found that as they concentrated on what Christ had called them to, God provided opportunities for work that fitted around their calling.

This seems to me to be a Very Clear Example of what Christ meant when he called us to ‘Seek first the Kingdom of God, and all these things will be added to you’. Such lives are rare, yet as I read the gospels I cannot help but think that they are The Normal Christian Life. It is only Christendom that has taught us otherwise – and by and large we have preferred the theology of Christendom to that of the Kingdom.

I hope you’ll join with me in praying for Justin today, and also Kelvin and Victoria, but also for ourselves, for Grace to follow Christ, putting down our nets, laying aside our own stories (many of which are amusingly and sympathetically parodied here 🙂 ), for the adventurous life of faith in Christ, to the greater glory of God our Father who will supply all our needs according to His riches in Glory.

(And there is more to that quote than meets the eye . . .)

Sermon for Sunday July 1st – 5 after Pentecost

Sermon for Sunday July 1st
5th after Pentecost
2 Sam 1:1,17-27
2 Cor 8:7-15
Mark 5:21-43

Gospel astonishment

“But with you there is forgiveness, therefore you are feared”

The Story is told of a man who was taken to visit Heaven and Hell. Being taken into Hell he was astonished to discover it full of tables, groaning with the most sumptuous of food, and yet everyone looked emaciated and miserable beyond description. Turning to his guide he expressed his astonishment. Why are they so sad when there is So much wonderful food to be had? “Ah” – his guide smiled sadly – “it is because in order to eat the food they must use these” -and he pointed to a table covered in chopsticks 10 feet long”

Of course this could be a metaphor for the Hell of the modern world where the poor have the life of the rich constantly thrust in their faces through the media, and yet it is utterly out of reach . . . but that is not the point of the story  – for that I will leave You Also, Tantalised – and waiting for the second part 🙂

Our theme this morning is ‘Gospel Astonishment’ and you may be thinking that our focus must be these two miraculous healings, from the Gospel. I mean, a woman healed of chronic bleeding and a little girl raised from the dead – how astonishing is that? Surely such happenings must have meant that they all believed in Jesus – except of course they didn’t. As Jesus puts it at the end of the story of the Rich man and Lazarus “If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” The point of all of Jesus’ miracles is not that they are miraculous, but that they point to the Rule of God – the Kingdom of God, which Jesus embodies “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” The question we should be asking about the miracles is what do they teach us about the Rule of God. Astonishment is not a proper response to the miracles themselves. Jesus is not a magician, rather he is the one who reveals the Kingdom of God. This is why he is Crucified, for the Kingdom of God is a Scandal to us – we cannot bear it

Well like the story about heaven and hell, I’ll come back to the gospel as well, but in our search for Gospel astonishment I want to turn to the epistle and Paul’s words to the church in Corinth. The situation of the letter is that there is tremendous need in the Jerusalem church, such that Paul in his first letter has asked the Corinthians this – “On the first day of every week, each of you is to put aside and save whatever extra you earn, so that collections need not be taken when I come.” These folk have no savings – their lives are pretty hand to mouth – but he is asking All of them to put aside Everything above their basic needs for the sake of their brethren in Jerusalem. But it is clear that they are not at all keen on the idea, because this is now Paul’s Second letter and Paul is having to use the example of the Macedonian church effectively to shame them into action “We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that has been granted to the churches of Macedonia; for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For, as I can testify, they voluntarily gave according to their means, and even beyond their means, begging us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in this ministry to the saints— and this, not merely as we expected; they gave themselves first to the Lord and, by the will of God, to us”

The church in Macedonia gave beyond what they could reasonably manage  -they were suffering “a severe ordeal of affliction” – yet they gave “even beyond their means” And that this was a manifestation of “The Grace of God that had been granted to them” By Grace these Poor Macedonians had been allowed to share in the Life of God – the Kingdom of God has been made plain among them – Poor people giving up the scraps they have and more, going without for the sake of others – Paul sees this as the Grace of God. And it is Astonishing, no? What would make poor folk give up even some of the essentials of life for the sake of others – they begged Paul for the privilege – you can imagine him saying – no you have given enough, you have so little – but they Give themselves to first God and then to their brethren. They are embodying the Life of God. Here is the Gospel – the Life of God in abundance flowing out into the world. This is beyond belief in a way that the miracles of Jesus are not, for they reveal radically converted human hearts, hearts which now are consumed by the Life and the Love of God – that have become vessels for God. They have given themselves to God. Salvation has come to their house

Gospel astonishment – yet not all would concur. For many the gospel has become distorted into, as the writer Dallas Willard puts it – ‘a gospel of Sin management’. Sin management works like this. “We are sinners, Christ died for our sins, if we believe in him we are included in his saving work on the Cross. We will not face the penalty of sin – heaven – and undeservingly will receive the life of Heaven.” And for some, indeed for many that is the gospel – that is their idea of Grace.  But that personal gospel has for many many years cause more than a few to ask the question, is that really it? Is all God interested is interested in doing is taking sinners to heaven?? Is there really no ethical dimension to the Christian life. To hear some speak of Grace and the Gospel one might think not. The Gospel it seems places no demand upon us – Free Grace, or as Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it, Cheap Grace – Salvation without any demand for a new life. Repentance  – a verb full of meaning about changing direction – evacuated of all meaning except changing your views, your beliefs. A Christianity which has nothing at all to do with how we live. Baptisms which do not result in any change of course, Baptisms which don’t require anyone to let go of my own story of what my life will be about. Baptisms which are like those weddings where couples have lived together for years before getting married, and they wake up on their wedding morning to that sense that nothing has changed, except perhaps they have a few more pots and pans in the kitchen. Baptisms which require no renunciation of the world and no costly following of Christ in the Life of the Kingdom. There is just ‘getting saved’ to use the jargon, and pie in the sky when I die.

This view of the gospel falls into the trap of ignoring the whole story of Scripture – which is the Story of Salvation. The early Christians understood that the Old Testament foreshadowing of the work of the Cross was the Exodus – God saving the children of Israel. Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the Sin of the world – the Passover Lamb, whose blood was shed to cover the Israelites as the angel of death took all the first born of the Egyptians, and then God Saved his people taking them through the Red Sea – as the early church understood it – the waters of Baptism, into the promised land?? Well no – not straightaway – first they had to re-order their lives, to learn obedience to this strange God who had rescued them. Yes they had been Saved, but they had to learn what it meant – to be Saved to live a New Life. Crossing the Red Sea, their old life of Slavery was put behind them and they were now free to learn and live a New Life which was to reveal the Life of the God who had saved them, to become Light as He is Light. In Egypt, enslaved as they were they could not be a light to the Nations, But God saved them from slavery that they were then set free to live the Saved Life.

For too many, faith is Salvation without the saved life – faith emptied of all ethical requirement or content.

Yet what is the command of Christ, “to love one another as I have loved you”, if it is not a call to a way of life which is imitative of his life? How is it that St John can say “We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?”, if we are not to give to all who are in need? The Macedonian Christians See their brother and sister in need and they reveal that they truly are saved for the Life of God – the Salvation Life is revealed in them. In their Life they look like God their Father who pours himself out on the world in costly love – “who for our sake became poor that we might become Rich” – that we might become Children of the Living God – imitating our heavenly Father in his life giving generosity. That is astonishing.

But that gospel astonishment has another edge, one that we should all hear. For many saw the miracles of Christ and yet there hearts were hard, they did not repent – their lives at root did not change. And Jesus declares to them ‘When I was hungry you did not feed me, when I was thirsty you did not give me something to drink . . . etc’ and they saw ‘when did we we see you hungry and thirsty etc etc.’ The miracles of Jesus are about opening blind eyes, eyes blind to the need around them. To be Saved is to be set free from sin, set free to Love because our hearts no longer blind us to those around us in need “How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister* in need and yet refuses help?” Plainly St John puts it – they are not children of God – they are not saved. And so the Kingdom is a matter of Dramatic reversals – those who think they are saved discover they are not, and those without hope in this world discover they are sons and daughters of God.  Blessed are you poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God – But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your reward.

And that reversal is played out in our Gospel – a tale of two daughters. One is the daughter of Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue – the daughter of wealth and privilege. The other, well we don’t know who she is, she is to be found in the nameless mass. For twelve years she has been as good as dead – her flow of blood making her unclean and cutting her off and now all the physicians have taken every last penny from her. She is destitute. She has nothing – except faith in Jesus. Unlike Jairus she has not the status to ask anything of Jesus. She cannot ask him – all she can do is risk touching this male rabbi. And the one who is rich becomes poor – “power went forth from him”. This is the only time this happens in the gospels – someone is healed without Jesus being asked. Life flows from the one who has everything to the one who has nothing – he becomes poor for her sake. This is the natural order of things, as water flows down hill so Life flows from those that have it to those that do not. The one who was excluded and as good as dead is now restored “Daughter” Jesus says ‘you are not a nobody, you are a daughter of God’ – but as in so many ways we as humans have the power to interrupt the flow, indeed to reverse it.

The announcement of the Kingdom is the Year of Jubilee – the year of restoration – where people are set free from their sinful need to acquire and to hold back life for others for themselves – set free in order to be restored to their full humanity as children of the Living God, who pours himself out, that there may be no poor amongst his children.

This reversal does not sound good news for the rich, but only because being rich amongst the poor is not in itself good news. Is there a gospel for the rich? Well the answer is yes, but it is miraculous. The poor church in Macedonia is overflowing in generosity, the wealthier church in Corinth has to be shamed and cajoled – we do not know how that story ends. As for the child of wealth and privilege, she dies. The woman had had no life for twelve years – the girl had had twelve years of good life. At the point the girl dies it seems it is a closed system – her twelve years of life being given to the woman who had nothing. All there is is the great reversal and no good news for the rich, BUT, Astonishingly, the system is not closed –  and in that there is hope even for the rich. It is not a closed system – God is the source of all life – he is more than ready to pour out the abundance of his life where there is faith – where there is trust in him. Where there is trust in him, Faith then we move from a story about scarcity where life must be fought over and hoarded, to one where Life is always available. The woman with the flow believed – Jesus now exhorts Jairus – become like that woman, Jesus said to him “Do not fear, only believe.” Enter into an imagination of the Generosity of God. And the girl is raised to life. There is hope for the rich, astonishingly, but only because of the nature of God. It is purely by Grace and through faith that this comes about. The fruit of faith is that Life can flow, “that there may be a fair balance” – both the woman and the girl now have life. Both have been saved.

The Corinthians are called to reveal the Saved life – to show their faith by their works – to reveal that they are not blind to their brethren and that they trust in God to supply all their needs – Paul asks them to show that they are truly Saved, that they are not blind – that there might be restoration, that Life may flow  – he says “I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance. As it is written, “The one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little.” That is what the Kingdom is like . . . Because, “How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister* in need and yet refuses help?” As on Earth, as in heaven

Our visitor to Hell, having been traumatised by the sight of all those people starving in front of so much excess and their 10 foot long chopsticks, is then transported to heaven. And he is amazed because it looks exactly the same – a great table, laden with the choicest food, but all the people look so full and content and joyous. ‘I suppose the chopsticks here are a lot shorter’ he grins as he looks to his guide. ‘Oh no, that would not be fair – the chopsticks are ten feet long here too’, he says pointing to where they are kept. The man looks puzzled. But they are so full and happy? ‘Of course they are – they know the joy of feeding one another’

May we know that joy too – may we know the joy of living the Saved life – the Astonishing Gospel life – and seeing it may the world see the truth about the God whom we worship

Nick Baines's Blog

The last three weeks have seen me in Kazakhstan (interfaith conference), Brussels (round-table with Herman van Rompuy), then Dresden (preaching at the Frauenkirche). All good gigs, but all it does is build a backlog of work at home. It has also squeezed out any blogging – or any creative thought, for that matter. And I’ve missed almost all the football in Euro 2012. And I forgot to change my fantasy team in time and am now doing rubbish.

Of course, had I had the space to do so, I would have blogged about women bishops, Church of England PR, the Telegraph’s useless commenting on the C of E’s input to a consultation on Europe (don’t these guys bother to read the originals before launching their self-important second-hand opinions), Euro 2012, the poignancy of preaching in Dresden’s Frauenkirche (especially when the tourists leave in droves before the sermon), the Euro-crisis and…

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“he who loves his brother tolerates everything for the sake of unity,

because brotherly love exists in the unity of charity.”

Augustine of Hippo – First Homily on 1 John

It is a readily observable fact that the children of divorce are themselves more likely to divorce, and I should imagine, given a few more years evidence, that the further down the line we go, those who are the offspring of a line which has seen frequent divorce will be even more prone to take this path.

Thus it is also with Schism in the church. In 1967 the Anglican John Stott, used his position as chair of the Evangelical Alliance conference in Keele, England to argue against a proposal of the Presbyterian, Martyn Lloyd Jones – that Evangelicals should separate themselves from theologically compromised churches. Stott, being of the offspring with only two ‘divorces’ in its history – (Agreed,  some of her ‘husbands’ walked out 🙂 ) – was keener to call for remaining integrated, than the great preacher Lloyd Jones who belonged to a root with considerably more separation in its DNA.

Yesterday at Morning Prayer we remembered the Puritan, Richard Baxter of Kidderminster, author of The Reformed Pastor. Now to some it may come as a surprise to hear that Baxter was himself an Anglican. There will be some who are surprised because they have forgotten that the Anglican church is both Catholic AND Reformed – but for most the label ‘Puritan’ would suggest that Baxter was amongst those who left for New England. However Baxter was only 5 when the Mayflower sailed and his writings show him to be far from a separatist. Rather he argued strongly that Presbyterians and Congregationalists should stay within the Church of England following the 1662 Act of Uniformity which made life exceedingly difficult theologically, not only for them but for Baxter himself.

And, theological difficulties proved of far greater consequence for dissenters than ever they do in the Western church nowadays. Late on in life Baxter found himself persecuted greatly, banned from preaching and at the age of 70 imprisoned on a charge of libeling the church in his writings. Yet he never declared ‘a plague on your house!’ and departed.

Now it must first be admitted that Baxter was not absolutely against Schism. As he writes to persuade Congregationalists and Presbyterians to remain within the fold of the Church, he does make reference to circumstances under which perhaps one might consider such a move, but of course Baxter is living in the early Post Reformation era, one in which the unthinkable has become thinkable. On the whole his writings are marked by a far firmer call to put the unity of the church first than one would find in many writings of our era, and therein there is a faint echo of the remembrance that for the first thousand years of the churches history Schism was unthinkable, indeed Augustine refers to it as The unforgiveable sin.

Baxter was not at all alone in the history of the church in remaining within the flock of Christ whilst undergoing fierce persecution. One need only think of the decades of persecution suffered by the Eastern Christians over icons, or the example of Athanasius of Alexandria. Athanasius lived in the 3rd Century at a time when 90% of the church were Arians, that is they were out and out heretics. He suffered greatly for upholding the Trinitarian faith and was exiled on several occasions – but many many years later we give thanks for him, and the creed that bears his name is a jewel of theology, still on occasion to be recited upon Trinity Sunday. In the light of these great Saints it seems perverse in the extreme that nowadays people think we preserve the faith through Schism, when in the past the faith was contended and cemented into the core of our being precisely by staying put.

Augustine’s writing is of particular note in this regard – for it is produced in the light of the Donatist heresy ( a reminder that the judgement of History is that schismatics are recorded as heretics . . . ). The Donatists were so eager to preserve the holiness of the church that they separated themselves because some Christians under persecution had made public renouncement of their faith under persecution, and had been restored to the body of faith. They could not countenance being part of a church where such a thing occurred. And thus cutting themselves off from the Vine, they withered and are no more. The part of England where I grew up and indeed ministered in the church was littered with tiny, closed chapels of one sect or another. All of them products of the Donatist Spirit. Agreed the Spirit of Donatism is alive and well, but those who drink at its well, would be advised to consider the consequences of such separation on purely historic grounds, even before we consider the matter on theological grounds.

So if Schism is so very wrong – from whence does it come? Well as always the root is inadequate Christology, a failure to apprehend the Gospel, which is the source of all Light and Truth, a failure to behold Christ. This in turn leads to inadequate secondary theologies, in this case ecclesiology. Ironically, those who seek to preserve the truth by separating from the Church reveal that they do not know the Truth – they have not heard the command of the Good Shepherd to love one another ‘as I have loved you’. Or as Augustine would have it, they cannot bear this word.

[Interestingly, Augustine uses as another example of inability to bear the Word of Christ the incident where some of his disciples turn away because they cannot bear his word about eating his flesh. Is it entirely co-incidental that the Spirit of the Donatists is primarily alive and well amongst Protestant churches (or the Protestant elements within the Anglican Church) – is it not in truth a failure to discern the body?]

Those who seek separation may well argue that Truth is at stake and that this must be balanced by Love, but the Love we are commanded to is a Love which is revealed to us in Christ, ‘as I have loved you’. The Only one who is Pure, the Only one who is Truthful in and of himself does not withdraw from us – Never. We withdraw from him. This is revealed throughout Scripture as being the character of God, taken on flesh in these last days in the Person of his Son. The God who patiently Loves disobedient, faithless, untrustworthy Israel. The God who is Always calling his people back to himself. The God who even takes the one who blatantly denies him three times and restores him. The Donatists revealed they were not of Christ, for they could not bear the command of Christ made flesh in the restoration of Peter.

Above all, a God of Patience, for Love never fails. Athanasius and countless others knew that the Gospel required Love, year after year after year, through marginalisation, ridicule, scorn, even to the point of death for our enemies, let alone for those who are of the household of faith. Athanaisius had such a burning vision of God, put into words in his creed, that he lived it and thus it was preserved.

Thus the Church is called to costly unity. It has Never been utterly united. Two thousand years have seen the church always at a degree of disagreement from Corinth to the modern Western Church. Indeed there are nothing but ‘theologically compromised churches’.

There is No rest to be had ahead of Christ’s return, purely the costly command to love one another as He loved us and thus to be known as his. To love as He loves is to refuse the path of separation, for he bound us to himself in Love. And thus the Truth was made manifest.