Ecumenicity, Orthodoxy & The Christian Spirit
by Steven Faulkner
In several recent conversations with conservative Christians, I broached the subject of Christian unity, and almost without fail, I was met by puzzled looks and skepticism. How on earth are believing Christians to work out their differences? How are we to repair centuries-old schisms? Is there a way? For generations earnest men of conflicting parties have chapter-and-versed each other without mercy before a watching world.
So, I asked myself, what has become of the boldness of the Gospel which once cut across every type of barrier to unite slave and master, Greek and barbarian, Roman and Jew, male and female—all one in Christ? What has become of that Truth which joined such disparate sorts into a tightly knit, international brotherhood, able to overcome the antipathy of pagan Rome? Where is our faith that whatever is born of God overcomes the world? Where today is our confidence in the new commandment which Christ gave his disciples to love one another as he loved them? Oh, we still look for a faith of power and love to convert the pagan, but we have long since despaired of a faith that unites us with our brothers. The godless may join the Church, but can the godly join each other? What a strange form of Christianity we practice, when we account our unity a matter of no importance, or we simply despair of ever restoring it.
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Steven Faulkner teaches creative writing at Longwood University in southern Virginia. He is the author of Waterwalk: A Passage of Ghosts (2007) and Bitterroot: Echoes of Beauty and Loss (2016). Both books are memoirs of father-son journeys that followed the paths of missionary priests: Marquette (in Waterwalk) and De Smet (in Bitterroot).
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