April 09, 2013
During the Reformation, Martin Luther was warned that if he started one new church he would start a thousand.
Thankfully, Luther ignored the warning and the protestant Church was born, but sadly the rest of that prophesy also came true.
As Christians we have a nasty habit of dividing. The last figure I heard (from our very own Todd Johnson, no less) is that there are now around 58,000 Christian denominations around the world.
Of course, as Luther demonstrated, there is a time for unity and a time for disunity.
The real difficulty comes in telling the time.
In class on Monday, I heard the history of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. In 1969, Harold J. Ockenga, Billy Graham and some other Neo-Evangelicals set up a school that would provide a third way between the Liberals on one side who so absorbed the culture around them as to be indistinguishable, and the Fundamentalist on the other side who so feared culture that they withdrew altogether.
They divided, and they united.
The school, as I understand it, was set up to unite Evangelicals around the truth of the Bible and to prepare them to serve faithfully in churches whatever their denomination and to engage in the culture wherever they were sent.
To that end, Gordon-Conwell doesn’t really exist to serve any particular denomination or any particular church. Instead, it exists simply serve the Church and the Gospel.
Of course I say “simply,” but refusing to be denominational or to align itself with any group more specific than “evangelical” is anything but simple. There are and always will be enormous pressures upon Gordon-Conwell to go one way or another.
And so I fear for Gordon-Conwell and I’m also thankful for it.
In one month’s time (and after a lot of long nights!), I will graduate from Gordon-Conwell.
I will be sad to leave this wonderful and special place.
I only pray that by God’s grace it will remain firmly grounded on God’s Word, serving his Church and for his Glory.
If we do that then we will divide from some and unite with others, perhaps that’s just the way it has to be.
Dimitri (Dim for short) and his wife, Gayles, moved to the U.S. from England in 2011 to pursue a Master of Divinity degree from Gordon-Conwell. He grew up in a little town in England called Sevenoaks and completed his undergraduate degree in Automobile Design at the University of Coventry. Upon graduation, Dim spent some time as a ski instructor, a church intern and an assistant pastor. When he’s not pretending to study, he’s usually dreaming about skiing.
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