As Jesus Christ promised to build His Holy Church after His departure, so it was when, in about the Year of Our Lord 33 A.D., on the Day of Pentecost, in the city of Jerusalem, the Holy Spirit came down from on high and breathed life unto all gathered there, and so the Church was born. Thus the Holy Church of GOD was founded, and thus it was one Church, apostolic, orthodox, and undivided for 1,021 years!
All that changed in the 11th century, when in the year 1054, the Church separated into two parts: The Greek Eastern Church with its headquarters at Constantinople (modern Istanbul, Turkey), and the Latin Western Church with its headquarters at Rome.
Any student of church history will realize the titanic events and personalities in each suceeding century that followed that dramatically continued to shape and define the Church.
The “Reformation” of the 16th century resulted in the break from Rome and the founding of numerous denominations that are with us today.
Thee was a time when unity in the divided church was earnestly sought, that, once again, “we might be one.”
This idea happened in the United States in 1886 and was known as “The Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral.”
“We, Bishops of the Proteatant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, in Council assembled as Bishops in the Church of God, do hereby solemnly declare to all whom it may concern, and especially to our fellow-Christians of the different Communions in this land, who, in their several spheres, have contended for the religion of Christ:
1. Our earnest desire that the Savior’s prayer, “That we all may be one,” may, in its deepest and truest sense, be speedily fulfilled;
2. That we believe that all who have been duly baptized with water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, are members of the Holy Catholic Church;
3. That in all things of human ordering or human choice, relating to modes of worship and dscipline, or to traditional customs, this Church is ready in the spirit of love and humility to forego all preferences of her own;
4. That this Church does not seek to absorb other Communions, but rather, co-operating with them on the basis of a common Faith and Order, to discountenance schism, to heal the wounds of the Body of Christ, and to promote the charity which is the chief of Christian graces and the whole visible manifestion of Christ to the world;
5. But furthermore, we do hereby affirm that the Christian unity…can be restored only by the return of all Christian communions to the principles of unity examplified by the undivided Catholic Church during the first ages of its existence; which principles we believe to be the substantial deposit of Christian Faith and Order committed by Christ and his Apostles to the Church unto the end of the world, and therefore incapable of compromise or surrender by those who have been ordained to be its stewards and trustees for the common and equal benefit of all men.
As inherent parts of this sacred deposit, and therefore as essential to the restoration of unity among the divided branches of Christendom, we account the following, to wit:
1. The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament as the revealed Word of God.
2. The Nicene Creed as the sufficient statement of the Christian Faith.
3. The two Sacraments,- Baptism and the Supper of the Lord- ministered with unfailing use of Christ’s words of institution and of the elements ordained by Him.
4. The Historic Episcopate, locally adapted in the methods of its administration to the varying needs of the nations and peoples called of God into the unity of His Church.
Furthermore, Deeply grieved by the sad divisions which affect the Christian Church in our own land, we hereby declare our desire and readiness, as soon as there shall be any authorized response to this Declaration, to enter into brotherly conferennce with all or any Christian Bodies seeking the restoration of the organic unity of the Church, with a view to the earnest study of the conditions under which so priceless a blessing might happily be brought to pass.”
And today in the 21st Century, how do the churches stand in this issue?
What about you? Where do you stand?
May the blessings of God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit be with you now and forever. Amen.