Today, we have over 41,000 Christian Churches, sects and cults in the world, and this number is steadily increasing. All these Churches claim to be the truthful Church. This has resulted into ‘lukewarm and spiritually comfortable’ Christians, where people move from Church to Church looking for suitable Churches. Consequently, ‘Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined and every city or household divided against itself will not stand’ (Mt 12:25).
In the 16th century, the world witnessed major splits in the Christian Church led by Martin Luther (1483-1546) and John Calvin (1509-1564). The Reformation Study Bible (English Standard Version, 2015) published by Reformation Trust Publishing, states “that the Reformers were sovereignly raised up by God to lead this history – altering era. At the forefront, their recovery and commitment to expository preaching helped launch this religious movement that turned Europe and Western civilization upside down.” King Henry VIII of England (1491-1547) took up the new teaching and English Parliament passed Acts of Supremacy in 1534 making him the head of the Church of England, which later evolved into the Anglican Communion.
However, there is a million dollar question, ‘Did Jesus authorize the reformation? Taught by miracles, Jesus said, “Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders, you will never believe” (Jn 4:48). A miraculous sign was necessary, especially when he established his Church he said, “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mt 16:17-18). Look at how he converted Saul (Paul), a key person in Christianity; Acts 9:1-9 at Damascus on his journey to persecute Christians, suddenly light from heaven flashed around him and he fell down when a voice came, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? And Saul answered, ‘Who are you, Lord? And he said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.’ Today, many evils are taking place in Churches.
There is competition between and among the different Churches. All these are contrary to the teaching of Jesus. A Christian grows through faith, hope and ends up in love. Love and forgiveness are products of faith. God is not jealous, he does not steal our heart but he multiplies it. In Christianity, we are told to love our enemy (Mt 5:44), therefore, as committed Christians, we should desire the absolute best for everyone, even those we can’t stand. In Mt 25:35, Jesus said, ‘for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me…’ So, love should inspire us all to do both the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. We must bear fruit and work for the salvation of other souls.
The Catholic Church is guided by the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:26). In fact, previously, many decisions made by the Catholic Church went through Councils; there have been 21 in total since its inception. For instance, the first Council was in Nicaea (325) which repudiated Arianism and declared that Christ is ‘homoousios with the Father’ (of the same substance as the Father).
This Council also adopted Nicene Creed among other issues. The second council of Nicaea (787) allowed the veneration of icons. The last council was in Vatican (1962-1965) which addressed many liturgical issues and ecumenism. Vatican has further given opportunity to Anglicans to convert and join the Catholic Church and these returnees including Bishops, have formed an Association called Anglicanorum Coetibus Society.
One promoter said, “The unity of the Church does not require a uniformity that ignores cultural diversity, as the history of Christianity shows, the many diverse traditions present in the Catholic Church today are all rooted in the principle articulated by St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians: “There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” All these above are common knowledge for Christians to learn and know their roots and identity.
Dr. Okoth Josue
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