Image by Lawrence OP via Flickr
This is part of a series of posts based on the Churches Together in England publication one light: one world. If you click on the link you will find the biblical texts. This post of the same name covers the purpose of this series.
Acts 2: 1 - 6
It is a fallacy to believe this story illustrates the unity of the Church. Pentecost is always seen as the birthday of the Church but what do we find?
A flame divides into a number of flames. The people speak in different languages; although from all over the known world, they hear their own languages. They do not all understand a single language.
This reads to me as an affirmation of diversity. I cannot see a mandate for unity as a single organisational structure.
Organisational unity is a lazy way of understanding unity; 'if only we all agreed, then we would have unity'. It is much more rewarding to be united with those with whom we disagree.
The assumption is God seeks unity in the sense of a single structure but where is the evidence? The challenge is to love one another, not to become like one another.
There is another thing too. What about the dissenters, the marginalised? Where do they fit into the single full, visible and unified church? The static model of unity does not take into account the dynamic of love.