Manifests for believers #5 Christian Union

In Manifests for believers #3 Catholic versus Protestant we saw that what was meant as signal, a call to seek together how our church also today could bring over credibly the ‘good news’ of and over Jesus, has now grown out to a severe  debate over how the Catholic Church can, may or must be develop and if it may or may not or must adapt to the time.

These signatories of the manifesto agree that it not simple to face those differences which come to light now. The differences that came onto the surface may have lingered already for many years, though those in charge of the Belgian Church did not want to face them.  It will not be easy to go about with the differences on a sober and evangelic manner.  Plurality becomes quick disunion.  That makes it so difficult in our chaotic world to hold in front the vision of someone else, and  to experience it full of joy.

“Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptised into {Or in; also in verse 15} the name of Paul?” (1 Corinthians 1:13 NIV) asked Paul already at the torn municipality of Corinth.

All ought to yield the courage with each other over these fundamentally different views, to come in dialogue.  With an open mind and without fear for mutual questioning.

The several manifests circulating could give an indication of we who want to call our selves Christian should be more eager to become united with all those who accept Jesus Christ as their Saviour.  In his death we should certainly be united with him because that is the prospect we are also looking for in a resurrection like his.  We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. But we also should not be enslaved to the world, nor to worldly traditions and human dogmas. In the New Testament we can find God giving direction to the apostles how to cope with the difference of living of the heathen becoming a follower of Christ and the Jew following Christ as well. Several Jewish Laws became redundant and why should we as human people than restrict others with newly imposed rules, brought forward by human people at certain times.

For one who has died has been set free from sin, but is also liberated from this world. There is no need for extra rules to become accepted in the Kingdom of God, because if we have died with Christ, we are assured that we will also live with him.

Considering ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus we should accept and respect all others who have also chosen to follow Christ Jesus. As such taking harsh actions and using not appropriate ‘dirty’ words to other followers of Christ is contrary the Law of Christ, the man of peace, to bring arguments a step further and letting them grow to quarrels. We should not be wranglers but bringers of peace and taking care that no sin would reign in our mortal body, to make us obey its passions.

When we look at Christendom we see many deviations. History, arguments, differences in ideas how to do things, made that we do have different denominations. And in each denomination we do encounter also different characters, which are as different as the different parts which make up our body.   Jesus had learned his apostles that not one is better or higher placed than the other and that we all should help each other to grow in the community of believers.  therefore we should not present our members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present ourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and our members to God as instruments for righteousness.

Choosing for unity

It may be strange that the first call for unity has been started off by the Pentecostals who often oppose so many times other believers and often undertake many aggressive actions against non-Trintiarians, like us.

In the year 2007 the Pinksterbeweging or Pentecostal Movement in the Netherlands celebrated her hundred birthday existence.  On the century celebration in the Olympic Stadium, Bass Plaisier, then scriba of the Protestant Church the Netherlands, said:  ‘What has lately there been spoken with contempt over you sometimes.  There have been talks over you as if you no longer were spiritually healthily.  The enthusiastic expressions of the joy of the belief, the signs of the Holy Spirit in speaking in tongues, prophecy and cure,  sometimes being labelled as a work of the wicked person.  What a dedain, what a contempt.  As if emotion be part of a primitive form of beliefs.  The same as the Muslims now, you were despised by enlightenment thinkers and found backward.  Brothers and sisters, I want to say to you, that I feel ashamed about this.  As we may not despise each other’s deepest belief choices – for such attitude we need pardon.’

From that time some protestants wanted to choose for (more)  unity because Christ is not divided.  Christ has the walls broken that hold men separated.  As Christ has broken walls , we may not set them up .  They choose for unity because Christ had prayed:  ‘So that they are one ‘ (John  17:22).

The “Municipality of Jesus Christ” or Community of Christ has to encounter a powerful enemy.  This enemy is the “god of this world”.  We must not underestimate him then. The world with her many ideas tries to attire the people and lure them in its trap.

Today we see that men many live on their feelings, also when it concerns belief.  They like to  sit within a church or community where they can find themselves at ease. Often they prefer not to become too much involved. The easiest for them is that everything passes by and that they can be  onlookers. Or being in a circle of  nice men and women, feel themselves at home.  That feels good!  For their feeling God’s person is present!

We can wonder if they do understand the real meaning of having to accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted them, in order to bring praise to God? (Romans 15:7 )

We should accept those believers who are not the same as us and do perhaps not believe all the same things as we do. As followers of Christ we should be all brothers and sisters in Christ, though we may have different and contradicting habits, characters, do mistakes, have deviant understandings and behaviours. As Christ has  accepted you and us with all your and our weaknesses, mistakes, deviations and even sins we also should accept others.

If we really once went deeply to realize, who and what we were when Christ accepted us – what a miserable men we were by nature in ourselves, and how big Gods grace is that He really has accepted us – then we will also be more generous and more permissively to our opposite and fellow believers.

The Last Supper
The Last Supper of Jesus Christ
In addition the public of the parish churches remain at home and the dioceses have to contend with a lack of ministers.  The shortage of Catholic priests has put a big burden on the Flemish priests, who mostly got a considerable age, and on the parishes. While those really interested in the well-being of the Roman Catholic Church brought their call in the manifesto “Believers take the word” “Gelovigen nemen het woord” the conservatives really reacted very harsh, even calling their fellow Catholics heretics.

Matter is that in Belgium the Roman Catholic Church can really do with some reform. This should not mean that they do have to take  a choice between radical preservation and radical change.  Both extremes naturally can, but go past to the fact that there are several opportunities .

In the broad stream in the middle of of the spectrum between ‘radical stasis’ and ‘radical exchange office’ (to use the words of the Dutch architect Brake Koolhaas) a fan of possibilities can be found.  The congregation has to think how many church-buildings it still wants to keep to bring worship services and how they can make as much use of those existing buildings. Then they have to look how they can bring interesting church-services which can attract more people. More work has to be made to proclaim the Word of God instead a narrow view of an institution. Though some Flemish organisations do find that Flanders has to do everything for Christ  and Christ has to go for Flanders, having the Catholic Church keeping in the traditional footsteps of the Vatican.

Those conservative Catholics do seem to be blind to the ‘annus horribilis’ for the Flemish church last year.  It began with the discharge because of child abuse of the bishop of Bruges.  After the ecclesiastic call to make sexual abuse known, followed a painful abuse story in the press and a shower of  ‘old’ complaints by the commission-Adriaenssens, plus a rush of conservatives who saw in it all an attack against the Holy Church of Rome.

A first observed petition was that ‘for a credible and liberating church’: Manifest ‘voor een geloofwaardige en bevrijdende kerk’.  These got also resistance of the conservative Roman Catholics that asked not to go into the contestation against the traditional belief proclamation which according the conservatives is undermining of the papal authority.  The compilers had the present church crisis in mind. It was the first signal, followed by the same call in  “Believers take the word” or  manifest “Gelovigen nemen het woord”, to respect those lonely believers in church,  who wanted to give their zest or sole for the church in which they believed to be a catholic institution.

Both longed for a credible and liberating church, and that it is about time to  come to bundle the powers.  The first petition handed over  on Christmas Eve 2010 had 6.800 signatories while the second one handed over to  the Flemish bishops last February the eight got 8235. In both we can find good intentions, though several conservative Catholics do not want to see that. Their intention was to bring  and to ask for more encouragement: so many people do want an evangelic inspired church community, a more authentic church. Also they would love to see more exhortation: work of the promised think thank around power in the church community.

Catholic Flanders really got a shower of manifests over them. More recent there were petitions ‘against the secular dictatorship’ with so 3,000 signatures, against the abstraction at the service of the Brussels Saint-Kathelijnekerk with more than 6,100 signatories and on the manifesto “Believers take the word”  followed the counteraction “Believers accept the word” with a 200 signatories and “Unbelievers take the word’ or  “[On]gelovigen nemen het woord” .  Also in the Netherlands, single manifestos could not stay away.  *

JEHOVAH at RomanCatholic Church Saint-Fiacre Dison Belgium
Inscription with the Name of God: Jehovah in de Roman Catholic Church Saint-Fiacre in Dison, Belgium
Those who want to call themselves Christian should know that it means to be a follower of Christ Jesus (Jeshua), the son of God, born in Bethlehem and died in Jerusalem. It was a man begotten, born in a special way, being send from his Father in heaven, Jehovah the only one God.

Those who do want to follow Christ should be aware that Jesus gave his teachings based on the Law of God, his Father. He wanted that we listen to his Father and do what He requires from us. In the Old Testament we are given Laws or Commandments. There was an old Covenant but with Christ Jesus we did receive a new Covenant, but that does not mean that we should ignore the Old Testament Teachings. Also Jesus kept to the Torah.

Jesus also warned us to be careful not to follow the will of men but the Will of God. And that is what we should carry in our hearts and should try to do. God did not give any dogma‘s. Those were given by human institutions. We should be aware that we should not be members of a Church of men, but of a Church of Christ as some want to call it, or better of a Church of God.

We should be aware that in a church that doesn’t follow Christ’s doctrine correctly, the whole church and congregation is to some degree accountable.  We were ordered to justify, educate and encourage each other. All people in a community should try to make the best for the community and should help each other to stay on the right path.

All members in a church community should not only help in the parish community but should keep an eye on the teachings as well. In case wrong teaching are brought in they should bring this to attention of everybody. In case members of a church do come into a situation where wrong teachings take the overhand they should leave that person after they did everything to bring him or her to her senses. Therefore every Christian has the task to do his or her best to point out to the church the problems and attempt to resolve them.  If this is not possible, those who prefer to follow the teachings of the Bible instead of the teachings of men, should look for other people who really want to study the Word of God seriously and want to follow That Guide.

Every person wanting to call himself Christian should keep to the teachings of Jesus, who brought the Words of his Father, and should find a church that does follow the teachings of Jesus correctly.

Wrong doctrine is a serious concern.  Consider the following passages:

1 Tim 4:16
Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

1 Tim 6:3-5
If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness,  (4)  he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions,  (5)  and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.

2 Tim 4:3-4
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,  (4)  and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

Rev 18:4-5
Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues;  (5)  for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.

There is no specific office of “minister” or “pastor” mentioned in the Bible and in the first churches the people came together to read and discuss the Word of God together. Ministers, priests or clerical celibacy are ‘modern’ human inventions. The original church leaders were “elders” or “overseers”. These were always male as indicated in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:7-9. Also, in 1 Timothy 2:12, Paul says: “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man”. But women also had their tasks in the ecclesia and helped to proclaim the Word of God. They were also responsible for spreading the believe in Christ, and therefore we may not diminish their function. Every lay person as such can do something in the service. We should come together regularly, men, women and children and meet in unity as brothers and sisters in Christ.

In case you want to learn more how to make church or how to understand the Biblical teachings you can always ask some serious Bible Student to help you. Do not hesitate to contact a Christadelphian group in you neighbourhood, and ask them for a Bible Study.

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* Een Manifest voor Gelovigen + Manifest Gelovigen nemen het woordManifest: [On-]Gelovigen nemen het woord + Gelovigen aanvaarden het Woord naar aanleiding van de petitie “(on)gelovigen nemen het woord” +   Gelovigen ‘nemen’ het woord niet… Gelovigen ‘AANVAARDEN’ het Woord
+ Is de ketterse petitie ‘Gelovigen nemen het woord’ een complot van CD&V en NVA???  +

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Petitie 24com: Gelovigen aanvaarden het Woord + Voor een Katholiek Vlaanderen! AVVVVK

Petitie: “Voor een geloofwaardige en bevrijdende kerk” = anti-katholiek en anti-clericaal
De eenheid van de Kerk komt tot uiting in het herderschap van de bisschop van Rome, de Paus, over de gehele Kerk. Hij is immers de opvolger van Petrus tot wie Christus had gezegd: ‘Gij zijt Petrus en op deze steenrots zal Ik mijn Kerk bouwen’ (Mt 16,18). En bij Johannes horen Jezus tot Petrus zeggen: ‘Weid mijn lammeren, hoed mijn schapen’ (Joh 19, 16-17).
+
De katholiciteit of universaliteit van de Kerk houdt niet alleen in dat het geloof van de Kerk overal verspreid is, maar betekent vooral dat men overal hetzelfde geloof aantreft. Of het nu de oude kerken van Europa zijn, of de jonge kerken in de ontwikelingslanden, overal treft met één en hetzelfde katholieke geloof aan. En dat is een soort garantiebewijs: als ik merk dat mijn geloof overeenstemt met het geloof van de wereldkerk, dan kan ik er van op aan dat ik me op het juiste spoor bevindt en het rechte geloof aanhang.

Petitie ‘Voor een geloofwaardige en bevrijdende kerk
Vele leden en symphatisanten van Pax Christi Vlaanderen vinden in de persoon van Jezus van Nazareth kracht en inspiratie.  De problemen en de schandalen die de voorbije maanden in de katholieke kerk aan het licht kwamen, leiden vaak tot ontmoediging bij velen die zich inzetten in de geloofsgemeenschap of van hen die er lid van zijn. Maar dat hoeft niet zo te blijven.

Tertio Debat: Gelovigen nemen het woord

Ketterlijst met 8200+ katholieken op internet gezet
De Vlaamse ketterlijst is een reactie op de petitie ‘Gelovigen nemen het woord’ van vernieuwingsgezinde katholieken in Vlaanderen. De lijst is een resultaat van ‘een groep verontwaardigde Rooms-Katholieke vliegenmeppers, strijdend tegen modernistische vliegen in de Rooms-Katholieke Kerk’.

Brief van Anne Vandenhoeck aan de kerstster
Brief aan de luisteraars van het Braambos, uitgezonden in het Braambos, Radio 1 op 12 december 2010
Anne Vandenhoeck superviseert aan het Academisch Centrum voor Praktische Theologie in Leuven en ze is stafmedewerker van het vicariaat Caritas in Brugge. Tot eind juni heeft ze d’er nog een benoeming bij. Die van Braambos-briefschrijver.

Bedenking ten aanzien van de petitie “Gelovigen nemen het woord”
In onze parochie en omliggende waren er priesters en gelovigen die meenden ‘met de tijd te moeten meegaan’ en zo sijpelde druppelsgewijs het vergift binnen in al die parochies. Mensen haakten af. Parochieteams werden gevormd en catechisten die niet in hun pas liepen werden buitengewerkt. (zij gaven ‘oubollige catechese’, waren ‘extreem rechts’(?) en ook ‘fundamentalist’…!)

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Related articles in Dutch: Aanverwante artikelen:

  1. Een Manifest voor Gelovigen
  2. Publieke overdracht van Manifest Gelovigen nemen het woord
  3. Manifestanten Protestant of Katholiek
  4. Manifest tot protestantse kerk
  5. manifest “Gelovigen nemen het woord”
  6. Reli-Quote 500: de bestbetaalde voorgangers
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29 thoughts on “Manifests for believers #5 Christian Union

  1. […] Manifests for believers #5 Christian Union Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptised into {Or in; also in verse 15} the name of Paul?” (1 Corinthians 1:13 NIV) asked Paul already at the torn municipality of Corinth. + Jesus also warned us to be careful not to follow the will of men but the Will of God. And that is what we should carry in our hearts and should try to do. God did not give any dogma‘s. Those were given by human institutions. We should be aware that we should not be members of a Church of men, but of a Church of Christ as some want to call it, or better of a Church of God. […]

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