Sunday, June 03, 2007

Unity and Uniformity

It seems to me that in order for there to be true unity in a community or church, there must be a variety of opinions represented. Unity, after all, is not the same as uniformity, neither is oneness simply sameness. The result of removing the option to differ may be called unity in some circles, though I prefer the label totalitarianism. "We're one," sings the Irish prophet, "but we're not the same."

This does invite the question, however, of just where the border lies which, if transgressed, places one outside the community's pale. Or to couch the question in ecclesiological terms, how much semper reformanda can a church do and still remain reformata? Can a church reform itself to the point where it is no longer recognizably Reformed?

There is a discernable tension here, especially for those, like me, who desire both to remain confessional and non-biblicist, but whose consciences are bound to the Word and to faithful exegesis of it.

There are a few options that I can identify to alleviate this tension: 1). We can simply trust the exegetical conclusions of those who drafted our confessional documents; 2). We can abandon their conclusions in favor of our own; 3). We can advocate a confession that limits itself to those doctrines that are indispensible to the Reformed system of doctrine, while remaining silent on issues more peripheral. If the second option is properly labeled biblicism, then the first could be called traditionalism.

But if we opt for solution #3, where do we even begin?