dichotomy

A reflection on the creation of dichotomy

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Recently in my apologetics class, my students asked me about the issue of false dichotomy. It so happens that I saw a friend sharing a Facebook post that seems to make a lot of sense:

What if…

What if the body of Christ, with all its disagreements and all its denominations, put aside their differences and just loved and worshiped Jesus together? What if Catholics and Protestants prayed together rather than fighting over theology? What if we rallied around HIS name and not a church name? What if we were loyal to Him and not to a man-made, theological point of view? What if we came together and became the Family we were created to be? What if we were truly unified and become one just as He and His Father are one like Jesus prayed?

Just……….what if???

This makes a lot of sense. But on further reflection, I realised that the thought itself is incomplete and too simplistic. This is a classic example of people creating too much dichotomy in issues where there is no need to do so. Let’s reflect why this case is so. 

There is no dichotomy between theology and ecumenical movements

The author of this post tried to create an issue with people fighting over theology. He advocates an approach where the different groups of Christians put aside their differences and come together and seek God together. But this is oversimplifying an issue.

Firstly, he is assuming that Christians all over the world are not doing so. But this is not true. Ecumenical movements are happening. We are seeing Christians from different traditions coming together in unity to pray and worship God, although not in the regular church service (for very good reasons which I will elaborate further).

Take for example, Singaporeans witnessed Christians coming together for the Jubilee Day of Prayer in 2015 to pray for the nation in unison. In my previous workplace, I was able to gather a group of Christians, which included Roman Catholics in the midst, to pray on a weekly basis. This is happening, and to say that “what if” is really ignoring the events.

The post itself is in fact a declaration of the author’s theology

This brings me to the next point. The fact that this statement is made reflects a certain view of what Christians should do. I am suspecting that this author refers more to regular ecumenical meetings akin to our regular church services. But is that really going to work? It is often more than that. We have to realise that our theology tends to dictate how we worship God in the services and our own private devotions. Is it going to be that simple, in that case to put aside our theology?

Our respective church traditions are based on our beliefs in God and how we can honor and glorify Him in our community. This represents the greatest hurdle to this “what if”. In fact, this view itself reflects a theology of its own. And one would be deceiving himself if he really thinks that we can just ‘gather around Jesus’ and ‘put aside our theology’. In fact, these disagreements, in my opinion, represent people’s inner most desire to glorify God in the best way possible. How can we then just tell them to put aside their theology and demand that they take up our theology of just gathering around them? And by the way, this is a ‘man-made’ view as well.

Hence, this author sidestepped and simplified the matter a lot. At the heart of things, it is never as simple as that. There are convictions involved here. As such, the solution is not just to put aside the theology, but to create a platform where we can come to a common understanding on each other’s approach to our theology so that we can come together and worship God in unity, not in uniformity. 

The real issue at hand

After this reflection, it is true that Christians fight over theology. And some people are sick of these fights. In fact, this is precisely there are so many Christian denominations. However, the dichotomy is not that people are too focused on theology. There are churches and Christians who are moving together for the kingdom. And so, we need to be aware that it is never an either-or. We do need to be careful of creating unnecessary dichotomy and cause further divisions. 

So what do you think? Share with me and let me know your thoughts.