posted at Boar’s Head Tavern:
About 30 years ago I was stunned when I read Watchman Nee argue that there is simply no biblical basis for dividing the church for any reason other than geography. Nee has been demonized in some evangelical quarters, but read his vision of overcoming denominationalism by working together in practical ministry, and be amazed.
Incidentally, this “Become friends with people from other denominations in your area.” (Alastair) is this:
“If I can unite in myself the thought and the devotion of Eastern and Western Christendom, the Greek and the Latin Fathers, the Russians with the Spanish mystics, I can prepare in myself the reunion of divided Christians. From that secret and unspoken unity in myself can eventually come a visible and manifest unity of all Christians. If we want to bring together what is divided, we can not do so by imposing the one division upon the other or absorbing one division into the other… We must contain all divided worlds in ourselves and transcend them in Christ.”
(Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1965), p. 21.)
As you know, Merton set out intentionally to do this (not just write it) by his cultivation of such diverse friendships. He saw his friendships as ecumenical praxis, the propoganda of the deed.
What, Merton and Nee and Alastair saying the same thing? Yes, the saints always say the same thing. They just don’t always know they do, because they use different dialects.