Monday, July 28, 2008

Divisions ...

I am currently reading a book on the Italian reformation: Firpo, Massimo. Riforma Protestante ed Eresie nell'Italia del Cinquecento. San Donato Milanese: Editori Laterza, 1993. In the last chapter, the author focuses on Anabaptist movements in Italy. There was a close tie between these movements and the Moravian church, and therefore the author spends some time quoting texts from the 1500s about the Moravian church. From the comments made, it would seem that the Moravian church was quite the sight. See for yourself (all translations are mine):

The Anabaptist Giuglio Gherlandi in October of 1561, a year before his capital sentence was executed in a Venetian prison, stated: "I have tried to find a people who were freed, by the gospel of truth, from servitude to sin, and who would walk in new life and heavenly regeneration by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and who were empowered by God, through the Holy Spirit, to resist sin [...], this people are his holy church, immaculate, separate from sinners, without a wrinkle or spot or any such thing; that, which like at the time of the apostles Peter and Paul was in Jerusalem, now is in the country of Moravia."

In the small village of Cinto, people stated about the Moravian Church, that in those faraway lands "are certain Churches [...] that govern themselves with great charity and great love, and in those places all are allowed to live according to Christ and to hold to whatever opinion one has and likes without fear, and the ones who are in some need are always helped by their brothers."
But, even with such accolades, the Moravian church was plagued with an issue: division. So much so as to make the Venetian artisan Marcantonio Varotta doubt the veracity of the Moravian movement.

"I left Moravia," he would tell to the inquisitor in Udine in January of 1567, "because while I was there, for about two months, I saw many faiths and many sects, one against the other, one condemning the other, all producing catechisms, where all wanted to be ministers, and some pulled this way and some pulled that way, and all wanted to be the true church. In a single small place called Austerlitz, there were thirteen or fourteen varieties of faiths and sects. So, I started to consider the fact that these heresies could be false and that the faith of the Roman church could be true."

Unfortunately, divisions still plague the church today. Some are due to preferences; some are due to differing philosophies of ministry; some are due to theological issues; some are socially acceptable, some are not. It would seem that for Varotta (and for many throughout the centuries) divisions are not a good witness of Christ's redeeming work in His children's lives. I am not suggesting that there is nothing important enough to divide over. I am not inciting us to do away with denominations. What I am asking is that, as believers in Jesus Christ, for the sake of His Kingdom, we learn from each other and love each other, even when we do not see eye to eye on everything. Basically, my prayer is that we strive to portray to the world the (single) body of Christ. Our unity amidst diversity is something that only Christ can do. That is part of our witness to the world that Christ has transformed us.

"By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." - John 13:35 (NKJV)


Evelyne Disseau said...

Questo argomento è veramente interessante. E' un fenomeno che si può osservare anche nelle famiglie. Sono sempre più rare le famiglie unite con rispetto e amore intorno al padre. Se ne sentono gli effetti sulla generazione attuale dei giovani che mancano di sicurezza e di fede.

Maël said...


This is a really interesting topic. It's a phenomena that can also be observed in families. Families that unite, out of respect and love, around a father are ever so rare. You can feel the effect of this on the current generation of young people who are lacking assurance and faith.

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