Sunday, January 31, 2010

Week of Christian Unity, BONUS: Kevin Johnston

Kevin Johnston was one of the people I had bugged about writing a guest post or a post I could link to, for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. From Kevin's blog Sola Nobilitas Virtus comes this post about unity of values that differ from the world's across organizational lines. Kevin offers some good insights about the things that ought to be uniting, rather than dividing us, especially with the state of the world as it is, but one of his off-hand observations is the one I will quote here:
Not that I am an overtly negative person, I simply am more of a fighter than a lover in many areas. That is why a topic of Christian Unity is such a foreign concept to me. Christianities come in all shapes and size, and many greatly despise others. Fitting them into one theme is not as easy as it might sound.
Hooray for bonus posts.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Christian Unity ToC

Day 1 I introduced my reasons for the week, which included a desire to do something to contribute to the general projects and prospects of Christian unity. I linked a Peter Kreeft speech that day.

Day 2: Nate Hill--a guy I went to church with once upon a time--wrote a guest post on multiple types of unity--from person-to-God to ecumenism between religions.

Day 3: I offer a reflection on what Christian unity means in terms of unity of the Scripture and the Sacraments.

Day 4: Katie Stevens--another person I know from my old home church--gives a few of her thoughts on unity in action and in Christ, on her blog just me and who i am.

Day 5: I reflect on a brief bit of writing that N.T. Wright did on unity of action in the context of discussing the authority of the Scriptures, in his book The Last Word.

Day 6: A link to a 1974 document in which leaders of Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism made a concerted effort to see whey could agree on theologically.

Day 7: My old roommate Tyler Paradis wrote a guest post drawing on his experience as one of four leaders of an ecumenical worship and spiritual growth event at the University of Portland.

BONUS: From my one-time classmate (Philosophy of Religion, y'all) Kevin Johnston's blog Sola Nobilitas Virtus comes this post about unity of values in opposing the world's sins.

If any 'bonus posts' show up, they'll be added to the table of contents as well.

Week of Christian Unity, Day 7: Tyler Paradis

This last reflection for the week comes from Tyler Paradis. I roomed with Tyler for two years at the University of Portland, and we had lots of opportunities during and following that time to grow as roommates and together as Christians.  Tyler participated in the Praise and Fellowship event at UP's University Village for two years running, the second year of which he helped to lead it. The event was ecumenical, incorporating people from multiple Christian denominations. Tyler's reflection offers some insights into the commonality Christians have in their struggle to grow with Christ, and the rewards and challenges of seeking further to build our relationship with Christ together, particularly in charity and common worship.

Dan has asked me to write a commentary on Christian Unity for the week of Christian unity. I must say that when first asked to do this, I was a bit surprised. I don’t consider myself to be well versed in theological topics. Consequently, my commentary may be a somewhat raw testimonial of my experiences with both the challenges and payoffs of Christian unity. It also may be somewhat short given the fact that I have been sick all weekend and I am burdened with what seems like un endless tasks.
       
The challenge of Christian unity to me seems pretty simple. We are challenged to shed our differences and come together to worship the center of our faith, Christ. The denominations of Christianity each have split off over the centuries due to differences which to this point have seemed irreconcilable. However, I would like to think that at the heart of all Christian faiths we all have the same goal in mind: to grow closer to Christ and to let this relationship shine in how we live our lives. I also would like to think that on judgment day, these differences will not matter and that our love for Christ will be the basis for our judgement. You can correct me if you think I am wrong. Despite anything my faith might say, this is the number one goal I have when I pursue a relationship with Christ: to better my relationship with him. Thus, while we may have theological differences, I think it is safe to say that we all hold this same goal. To do this is the challenge of Christian unity. We are challenged to look past our differences and come together. The hope is that one day we could all worship together as one church of Christ, a church without divisions or denominations.

I think the payoff of seeking Christian unity is well worth it. There are payoffs along the way. The ultimate goal may be Christian unity in a worldly sense, but we can also seek this in our own everyday lives. We can seek union with our Christian brothers and sisters by choosing not to discriminate based on denomination. Additionally, we can seek to understand the differences we have and learn from them. And ultimately, we can seek to come together to worship in an ecumenical fashion. I have been involved in several ecumenical events in my college years. I have both participated in them and led them. What I have found is that the experience different denominations bring to these events is very rich. I feel inspired by the community we held and the friendships I gleaned from the experiences. It was enlivening to be a part of a community that was not bounded by denomination and whose only focus was coming to better know Christ and to worship him.

Thus, there is immense value in Christian unity. It has potential to enrich our daily lives and Christian unity throughout the world has infinitely more potential.  Thus, I would urge you to look past the bounds of denominations. See the value in the practices of your church and utilize them to grow in your faith. But also see the value of community both inside your denomination and outside of it in the worldwide Christian community. If we all make an effort to establish relationships in this fashion, perhaps someday we could obtain worldwide Christian unity.       

Week of Christian Unity: Day 6 on Day 6 (7, sort of): The Orthodox and Ecumenism

Here when I say the Orthodox I mean the Eastern Orthodox, not merely adherents to the historical orthodoxy of the Christian faith. For a quick rundown of Orthodox perspectives one can see the Orthodox Wiki's page. Following the links on this page eventually led me to a major Catholic-Orthodox venture in dialogue which was claimed to be the oldest regular venture of its kind in the world, and which has a webpage hosted on the site of the Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops of America (SCOBA), which you can find here. As I type this I am running short on time, so my brief bits of research led me to this short agreement from 1974 about the church. These are things that the two oldest branches of Christianity are, at least hopefully, finding themselves in agreement on. One thing that's kind of interesting to do is to read over the lists and see how many items (of the ones that apply to more than just the Orthodox and Catholics) you agree with. The list definitely gets more specific as it goes along, but there are some that seem more vital to an understanding of Christian unity from any perspective, most notably:
2. The church is the communion of believers living in Jesus Christ and the Spirit with the Father. It has its origin and prototype in the Trinity in which there is both distinction of persons and unity based on love, not subordination.
It's an interesting set of agreements. Check it out.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Week of Christian Unity: Day 5 on Day 6: N.T. Wright

I'm going to give one of the interesting segments from N.T. Wright's The Last Word today, a piece of his writing that really puts forth an interesting notion of unity in action across church lines, while he is using music as an analogy for how the churches should act with respect to each other and the history of the church:
The notion of "improvising" is important [...] improvisation does not at all mean a free-for-all [...] but [...] disciplined and careful listening to all the other voices around us, and a constant attention to the themes, rhythms, and harmonies of the complete performance so far, the performance which we are now called to continue. At the same time, of course, it invites us [...] to explore fresh expressions, provided they will ultimately lead to that ultimate resolution which appears in the New Testament as the goal, the full and complete new creation [...] anticipated in Jesus's resurrection. All Christians, all churches, are free to improvise their own variations designed to take the music forward. No Christian, no church, is free to play out of tune.[1]
Wright's analogy is interesting. I actually feel somewhat decent about it, and I really want it to be true. Of course, I also think that it's problematic; to give a brief example, let's say I'm composing a song. I start with a bass-line and then proceed to build other lines, lead-lines, chords, etc., over it. Eventually I run across two synth-lines, neither of which seems to conflict with the bass-line. But they conflict with each other. Do we (a) choose to believe that the song still sounds fine even with the dissonance (sometimes in music dissonance is called for), (b) identify one of those synth-lines as being more out of tune with the previously established music, or (c) come to the conclusion that them being out of tune means that they both need to adjust?

Perhaps most importantly: What's the bass-line? For Wright it appears to be Scripture primarily, followed by history and reason. But not all Christian churches necessarily agree with that. I think Wright's analogy is definitely onto something, at least in terms of finding what unity of action we currently have. But I think it becomes incomplete when we reach scenarios like the one above, where different churches' music seems equally compatible with the past, but incompatible with each other. Wright does offer in the next few pages his own solution for attempting to read the Biblical text so as to make sure that we're all 'in tune with the bass-line,' to use my example. But there will still be things left open to interpretation. For example, the debate over the relation of providence to free will continues to be an issue even when Wright's criteria are met. But again, I think Wright's onto something, especially when he adds his criteria for respecting Scripture's authority.

[1]N.T. Wright, The Last Word (USA: HarperOne, 2005), 126-127. For further discussion on how to make sure your improvisations are in tune, pages 127-142, essentially the last part of the book, offers Wright's recommendations. If you want a more contextualized and less for-this-week reading of Wright's comments on unity, I highly suggest reading The Last Word. If nothing else it is worth reading for the hilarious lists of misreadings of the "left" and "right" on pages 106-110.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Week of Christian Unity: Day 4, Katie Stevens

Yo. It's actually Day 5, but I got lazy, so you're getting Day 4 today, and Day 5 and 6 by the end of tomorrow (still deciding whether I'm doing Day 5 today.) Today comes this reflection from Katie Stevens, which focuses on a unity in Christ and unity of way of being, despite differences in modes of worship / relation to the culture. Preview-quotation from Katie:
"They’re so focused on finding what they think is the point and converting their friends that they ignore the source that they and their peers have in common- THE LIGHT. They forget where they do converge, that they are peers- parallel, not opposite."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Christian Carnival ??? Is Up

KBT makes an appearance for the first time with the post "First Loyalties."

Christian Carnival ???


Also, Kevin Johnston over at Sola Nobilitas Virtus made a post along similar lines to "First Loyalties," with remarkably similar but still differing conclusions/rationale, at the linked page. Apparently the subject had been swimming in his mind for awhile, too!

Week of Christian Unity: Day 3, Me (Dan Lower!)

This is a reflection I wrote today, which focuses on the notion of what unity means in terms of unity of heart and mind, and the repairing of a little-c church which has surely been further exacerbated, though perhaps more climaxed than caused, by the disunity of the Reformation, however well-intentioned the Reformers may have been. It expresses my hope that in re-uniting with each other Catholics and Protestants will be able to work more perfectly towards what the Church was intended to be from the start. At any rate, I had felt I should write something of my own for this project. Guest-posts or links to others' posts should resume tomorrow if all goes according to plan.

Back in college (in my Sophomore or Junior year), a guy a knew then (and know now) named Corban gave me an interesting theory on the brokenness of the body of Christ, as in the little-c church. Now Corban's theory was this: Essentially, that after the Reformation Protestant churches had retained a fervor for the Scriptures that the Catholics had lost somewhere along the way. Now I think that the intellectual Catholics, even in the day of the Reformation, certainly had not lost this fervor: It seems clear that the Catholic Church's theologians always retained a knowledge of Scripture. However, it also seems clear that in traditions where the authority of the Church is emphasized alongside the authority of Scripture, it is not always made so clear that a drive for the Scriptures is necessary. (I think Corban was in an especially interesting place to make such observations, having attended Protestant churches regularly for a time when he was younger.)

Now I do not think that Christianity needs to have as a whole the same type of fervor that a non-denominational church down the street does; perhaps the same degree, but not the same type. Many in Protestant Christianity would have you believe that this fervor implies that people should be reading the Scriptures for themselves, as well as in corporate contexts, on a daily or almost-daily basis. Now I agree that regular reading of the Scriptures is important, but it is only really helpful if it contributes to an understanding of who we are as Christians. Individual interpretation of the Scriptures is dangerous because it has been shown to have just as much potential to contribute to disunity of heart and mind, as to unity of the same. Don't believe me? You can always retreat into the amazing visible unity of that subset of believers professing a belief in the Bible alone as divinely authoritative. Chesterton once said that:
“When a religious scheme is shattered (as Christianity was shattered at the Reformation), it is not merely the vices that are let loose. The vices are, indeed, let loose, and they wander and do damage. But the virtues are let loose also, and the virtues wander more wildly, and the virtues do more terrible damage. The modern world is full of the old Christian virtues gone mad.” (Orthodoxy)
The virtue of reading one's Bible is one such virtue. But here's the thing, even aside from the question of further disunity. Fervor for the Scriptures is important. But it's not capable of bringing us salvation, just further understanding. It's essential for being a Christian theologian. But, it is not as essential as the Sacraments—Eucharist and Baptism chiefly, but also the others. And these were held even from the earliest days by those men such as Ignatius of Antioch, or Irenaeus of Lyons, to be things by which men received graces of God. In many of the churches in which the sole sufficiency of Scripture is taught, the necessity of Sacraments is not. And this is a problem. It flies in the face of catholic (yes, little-c) and apostolic truth to insist that Sacraments aren't really sacraments.

So a fervor for the Scripture in each Christian is important, but this doesn't mean, that every single person needs to be deep in the study of Scripture all of the time, especially not “for themselves” or independent of other authorities on the matter. The fact is, some persons shouldn't try to read the whole Bible, and in the process introduce themselves to unnecessary stumbling blocks to the faith. The more obvious fact is that because not everyone who will receive the Gospel will be able to read the Scriptures on a daily basis—for fear of persecution, for illiteracy, for circumstances which limit their time, etc. And the historical situation seems to be that Christianity as intended really does teach that grace comes to us through the Sacraments. Therefore, we must provide a framework of relationship to God that doesn't rely on the Scriptures alone. But wait! There's already a church like that! Bonus: This church also provides a place where everyone can go to regularly hear and meditate on the Scriptures and partake of Christ's Broken Body, all in the space of about an hour.

Now one of the things that has led me towards this Church in recent times has been the amazing influx of converts from Bible-believing congregations, who discovered to their surprise that the Catholic Church made them more, not less, free to believe in the Scriptures. After a lot of historical study (not the least of which was my study of the matter of the Eucharist in Ignatius of Antioch, for Dr. Michael Cameron's class), I am coming more and more to the conclusion that the fullest expression of Christian faith is indeed in the Roman Catholic Church. The examples of those persons, for example, Dave Armstrong, or Tim Staples and Jimmy Akin of Catholic Answers, have shown me how truly beautiful it looks when Catholics in the laity have a real grasp of the implications of Scripture for their lives, when it is something that they meditate on day and night. There are a whole host of other reasons for me joining the Catholic Church. But this is certainly one: That it is a Church where the fervor for the Scriptures and the necessity for the Sacraments and for authority are both acknowledged, if sometimes imperfectly, and put into the most proper proportion manageable. Catholicism means a proper and proportionate unity of ideas, as well as of the people who have them. It is, I have come to believe, the best expression on Earth of what we should be as Christians. So in a way, my contribution to the project of Christian unity this year is myself. I'm becoming part of the project of re-unifying the Church, one person at a time if it be the case that this is necessary.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Week of Christian Unity: Day 2, Nate Hill

Today's Christian Unity post is a guest post, from Nate Hill, who I went to church with for several years. Nate, of all the people I asked to write a guest post, or a post on their own blog that I could link to, is probably the most in the camp of what might be called the emergent and/or postmodern church. He offers some interesting perspectives here on unity in terms of union with God, union across denominations, union across racial/ethnic lines, and unity between religions. Let us continue to work and pray for unity of all of those kinds!

Unity in the Church

Here are some of my thoughts about unity in the Church. I was asked by Daniel Lower to write down thoughts and my own conclusions I gained while in personal meditation. Unity comes in many different ways and can be a fairly ambiguous term, but in these simple paragraphs I will share thoughts and ideas started with unity between self and God, between self and creation, between congregations of other denominations, between different ethnic denominations and finally between other religions.

Self and God

Sometimes our darkest moments are meditations between ourselves and God. He often will encourage us to face times of pain in order for us to be healed. In certain cases of extreme pain being close to God can be a place we often run from. But through God and Him only can we face our scared past and come our closer to God and in greater unity with Him.

In C.S. Lewis’ book The Great Divorce a theme of things that get in the way of our focus from God is presented. Lewis describe interaction between angels and hell bound ghost, the ghost are confronted with the practices in their life which have become an idol such as, painting, appearance, and even a child. We often put any number of people, places, or practices in the way of God and all of these hinder our unity with God. Any of these things are fine by themselves but once they serve as a distraction from your Creator, then we are not wholly unified with God.

Gods grace is what brings our soul to unity with God. Our praxis’ helps us to live in a manner that supports a new life style, but only through Christ are we to be unified with God. Unity is defined by Christ bring us into community with Him.

Self and Creation

God is the creator of this world, how ever you believe that He accomplished this ultimately we come to a point where something being must have stated it all just as Aristotle writes in his theory of infinite regression, where something out side of existence must have started all motion.

Nature is a place where God meant for us the worship Him. Westerners build grand Cathedrals and Mega Churches to worship God, but how does that compare to a water fall, or the morning sun arching over snow capped mountains. We will never be able to compete with nature for splendor of a place to worship.

Believing this to be true, we as a western culture must make amends to creation before the coming of the Kingdom of God. Where once a grand forest stood, as far and the eye could see, now stands a strip mall with the latest consumer goods. St. Maximus the Confessor an Eastern Orthodox saint taught that Christ came back to reconcile all creation. Thus our place was to be the caretakers of the Earth and turn it into the new dwelling of God. Maybe we should do some rethinking, for I would not seat the creator of the universe in a cubical farm.

Dr. Randy Woodley at the Theology of the Land conference said “God spent 6 days on the Earth and only 1 day on us, seems a little arrogant to me to assume it all about us.” The Lord took great care in making the Earth maybe we as a culture could find new ways to treat it better by examining our consumption driven society, by creating some new to produce and replenish. Please don’t hear me supporting a form of socialism I think we can tweak our system with out resulting in a completely new system of government.

Between Congregations or Other Denominations

Unfortunately for the Christian community we can’t seem to agree on anything. We fight tooth and nail for doctrines that ultimately don’t stop any of us from being saved by grace doctrines such as infant baptism, or whether it is right to drink or not, whether dancing is right or wrong. There are doctrines that can lead to heresy and they must be confronted like Christology or Trinitarian theology but I ask you how much outside of these two great dogmas is just personal preference which helps an individual become closer to God which has been transformed into a moral imperative.

We as the Church must be willing to put doctrinal differences and aside and stop pointing the finger at others and start to realize that whether you are Methodist, Baptism, Pentecostal, Catholic, or Eastern Orthodox we all share the same faith in Jesus Christ we are all saved by the same grace with was given at the death of our Lord, and brought into a reconciled relationship with our Creator Father God.

Our Churches have fallen apart because we can’t get along. We fight with one another like children in a school yard over praxis. The only way left to evangelize this world is love one another a cross denominational lines. We can celebrate our differences and keep our separate identities as long as we all view each other as parts of the Body of Christ. We can do this we can get our act together and be a multimillion person family.

Between Different Ethnicities

Racial reconciliation is a huge topic and is, to this day, a very sensitive topic because it is still so close to our culture. Barely a single generation has passed since the Civil Rights Movement, and still we have not come all the way. Our election of an African-American president was a monumental step in the right direction, but it is still only one step. Sunday morning is still the most segregated day of the week. There is an old saying that goes “birds of a feather flock together” this can not be more true for Sunday worship service.

I happen to be a white middle class male. I like being white, but I have come to realize I still don’t understand the depth of the prejudice that our culture faces and the prejudices that are still being displayed through the media. Jim Crow laws may be gone, but how many people still live in poverty condition because of white flight, and how many young men living in the inner city are convinced that the only way to succeed is to become a pro athlete or a rap artist. School in the inner city are still underfunded and left to decay. It shouldn't take too much observation to realize that our prejudice has just become more subtle.

For anyone who may actually read this blog post, I urge you to read “And justice for all” my John M. Perkins. This man's ideas can lead to lasting change in these poverty stricken areas if we can make the necessary resources available and be willing to take a risk in favor of loving our fellow humans.

God says to love your neighbor; well I say all created persons are our neighbor. Neighbor is not limited to the family next door, they are all the billions of people who can’t eat tonight, and they are all the children who will starve to death while you read this. Your neighbor is who Jesus called “the least of these”. Like I said above, I am a while middle class male, which means I have access to resource, these can be given to other in need, out of my excess and even out of need I can still give to others. Giving is a powerful way to combat our consumer drive society. Please don’t hear me talking about the white man's burden. I am definitely not in favor of that, but white people still hold all the keys to store house, thus we must share to unify us to every ethnicity.

Between Religions

This form of unity is tricky because in some extreme cases religions just don’t mix. All religions have forms of extremism it is not limited to the Middle East. Islam is first and foremost a religion of peace, and has a very disciplined life style. We Christian could learn a thing or two from their devotion to their faith.

If we Christians believe that Holy Spirit is alive and working through out the world what’s to say the Holy Spirit is not working within other religions. Other religions should be embraced because we love people all people. We should keep our faith in the process, but we should still love on people of other faiths. World unity will not come while it’s population is still killing each other in the name of God.

We can have conversations with other religions if we leave conversion off the table. Christians are allowed contact with other faiths without selling them Jesus. We must remember the finality of Christ and to us He is the one and only Son of God.

We can do it. We can unify with people from other religions because we still love them; they are still our neighbors. We may hold the truth of Christ in our lives but only through love and care are we going to communicate our message to other faiths.

Conclusion

Unity is connected, between all of us and God. Until we are united with God in our faith as Christians and we will never be united as a community of faith. Thus the faith of the individual is connected to the faith of the community. Love is the great connector, only from the overflow of our love for Christ will we able to love ourselves, creation, other denomination, other ethnicities, or other religions. Unity starts with a Love for God and unity ends with Love for God.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Week of Christian Unity: Day 1: Peter Kreeft

Hello!

So it's the week of prayer for Christian unity, starting today and ending this Sunday. A bit of reflection will tell you what this is about:

Last year when I was living in the Faith and Leadership House, our campus participated in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. We said some prayer (there was an official one at Mass and later on, and a taize service on Thursday that FLH people were strongly encouraged to attend.) But here's the thing, is that nobody really did anything else to further the cause. There wasn't really any theological dialogue on campus or even much of an attempt to define the phrase "Christian Unity" (one could argue that perhaps the official prayers given gave some shape to a definition, but there was very little discussion, if any, even of that definition.) Now I do not mean to suggest that prayer is at all inefficacious. That is not the case. I do mean to suggest that in times and places where peoples' actions, in the direct sense at least, make a difference, that we shouldn't expect God to do all the work without working through us.

It was with last year in mind that I noticed just yesterday that the week was happening again this week, this year. I think it was The Deacon's Bench that reminded me. I started thinking it would be kind of cool to do a series of posts or links to posts or essays others had written, on the subject of Christian unity. And I was talking to someone from my old home church, and just decided on a whim to ask him if he'd be willing to contribute something for a series; he did! I bugged my old roommate, and he was up for it. I've bugged a few other people. If everyone who hasn't said yes says yes, and everyone who says yes does stuff in time, the week should be pretty chock full of interesting perspectives on the issue.

First up on the docket is a speech from Roman Catholic apologist/philosopher Peter Kreeft, called Ecumenism without Compromise. Note that though it is audio, you can find a transcript of it. Later on in the week I'm going to try and write something a little more specific on the subject of how I've experienced unity and dialogue, but Kreeft has expressed here the perspective I have found myself most in-tune with, especially as a Protestant who's going Catholic.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

First Loyalties

So I'm starting to think that patriotism is overrated. I'm not actually saying it's bad. It isn't bad to like one's country and want it to succeed. But it seems like it gets put higher on the lists of some than is actually healthy. I tried today to write out a list of where my actual loyalties lie, or at least if not, where they should lie if I were practicing virtuously the Christian ethic:

First loyalty: Our Lord Jesus Christ, Lamb of God, and with him the Father and the Holy Spirit.
Second loyalty: His pilgrim Church on Earth--when it functions as it ought, as the Christian church most fully revealed. (Which churches this applies to in my mind, and in what degree, depends on the degree to which they are one, holy, catholic and apostolic.)
Third loyalty: Family and friends. Except in rare circumstances, this loyalty ultimately goes in that order.
Fourth loyalty: Humanity in general.
Fifth loyalty: United States of America.

To be honest, I'm not even sure the USA gets spot #5. I think maybe that spot belongs to Creation. Part of my point is, it was an interesting exercise. But I definitely noticed, while doing it: My country comes out nowhere near the top! This doesn't mean I'm unpatriotic, but it does mean that government, however well intentioned or well executed, never takes precedence over humanity or God. Christ, the Church, and people take precedence. (A note on loyalty #2 is that the "as it ought" was added expressly to make clear that when the Church abuses people, as it, being a human institution, does, my loyalty is to the persons being abused rather than the malfunctioning church.)

Now to be fair there are two things on this list I'm unsure of. (1) I feel like maybe #3 and #4 should be combined, if I'm really talking about the Christian ethic, not just what I happen to do as a Christian. (2) I'm not sure if #2 and #3 are in their correct relative places; I already listed one special circumstance where #3 trumps #2. However, for theological reasons I believe they are at present in the correct place, in the sense that the demands of the community of faith, when it functions in correct proportion to its needs and the needs of humanity at large, take precedence over the demands of other institutions and persons.

There is one thing, however, I am sure of, which is that if all these things could be properly ordered in one's life, there would be the need for only one loyalty, with all others absorbed under its banner: Loyalty to our Lord Jesus.

If anyone else has a list of loyalties I'd love to know what they are. You can of course feel free to disagree completely with mine!