Could the church ever reunite?

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The pope has recently began sending messages on twitter in an attempt to reach out into the digital world. One of the tweets caught my attention in that he was praying for the reunification of the church; this got me wondering, would that ever be possible?

Most religions (I'll stick with Christianity) have numerous sects that have wildly varying interpretations on how they should follow their faith. From Catholics that believe god picks one man to lead them (at least from how I understand it) to Mormons that think Jesus came to America; sects have a massive variation in ritual, observations and practices.

Could they ever come back together into one 'church of Christianity'? Or would ideological differences just drive them apart again? And even if a single unified church wasn't possible could you see any 2 sects merging into a single larger one?

Same applies to any religion, could other religions that have moved apart in ideology (while still following the core religion) move back together to form a single group?

Doubtful, since whenever someone has a disagreement about the interpretation of the bible, instead of coming to an agreement with the church they choose to go form their own based around that one different interpretation.

And I can't see the Protestants going back to the Catholic church as they still hate the pope, along with the Anglicans. So no I can;t see it happening as Protestants would have to give up the tenants that their faith is based on to do it.

The chances of all of Christianity coming back to one church without the second coming is about the same as the moon crashing into Mars tomorrow morning. Half the Protestants can't tolerate each other much less the Catholic Church. The Orthodox Churches have been practicing giving the finger to the Pope for over a thousand years so I don't see that happening either.

Unification of the church? To what end? Protestantism is a splinter group of the Catholics, which in turn is a splinter of Judaism, which evolved out of the Canaanite religion, which used elements of Babylonian, which sooner or later was a more elaborate system based on some sort of natural spiritualism.

ALL GLORY TO THE MAMMOTH GOD!

There are efforts for different branches to work together and support each other. The churches in my town have formed a Local Ecumenical Partnership, which works towards this goal. However, whilst I can envisage more cooperation, especially since they now have a common problem of growing religious apathy, I do not see reunification occurring in any meaningful sense.

At best the Eastern Orthodox Church and The Catholic Church might come to some sort of agreement to "remerge", but it would most likely only be in name only. Relationships between the east and the west have gotten a bit warmer over the years, though the difference being the west sees the pope as a sort of "spiritual leader" while the east believes all bishops stand on equal terms. There's also some differences over who can accept the Eucharist from whom.

As much as I would like to see some of the sects return to the "Mother Church", I realize it's unlikely. It's a real shame, because I think the Catholic Church would manage to curb a great deal of zealotry in Christianity as a whole.

this is possibly part of a play for the "traditional" wing of Anglicanism to reunite with the mother church.

they are closer than almost any other and Anglicanism is pretty much on the verge of splitting along "traditional" and "liberal" lines. ("traditional" basically meaning pretty damn close to Catholic but with the queen instead of the pope and a few differences in customs).

the Catholic church has been working this angle (ba dum tish) for a very long time.

random web link detailing some of the moves being put in place by the vatican to more easily facilitate this :
http://cantuar.blogspot.co.uk/2009/10/pope-opens-doors-wide-to-anglicans.html

the Anglican church is the third largest Christian church after the Catholic and the Orthodox (85 million as of 2011) and the "traditionalists" who may well convert if a split happens represent vast numbers especially outside "the first world" in places like Africa.

Yeah... the "Ecumenical Movement..." Us Catholics have been trying for a while now.

Short answer: no.

Long answer: The Church has been split into increasingly fragmented sects over the last thousand years. You got Catholic Church, East Orthodox Church, Russian Orthodox Church, Lutherans, Mormons, etc, etc.

Each of these sects has wildly different beliefs which point I am wondering if they really can be counted as the same religion. Does God have a messenger to the Earth at all times? Are we pre, post, or currently in trinity. Did Jesus land in the US and make a white Native American tribe? How old is the Earth?

These people fought WARS over such small details, no way are these different sects going to lose all their money and power to some guy in a silly hat true place with god over a person they believe has no true authority.

the anglican church split from the catholic church because henry VIII wanted a divorce, the pope wouldn't grant him one so he declared himself "mini Pope".

religious differences with Rome had very little to do with it, indeed it was very much against the will of the church at the time.

in terms of the religious details, and from inside the church itself, they really aren't that far apart.
just a different "pope"....and "priests" can be married...they have, over the years, adopted different hymns and stuff.
seriously that's like all the difference there is in terms of the fundamental theology.

the current pope has put in place mechanisms to both allow them to keep the differences and return to the fold of the Catholic church.

he's not done this for shits an giggles and its kind of a big deal (especially allowing married priests).

have there been wars between people claiming to represent the two ? sure. but those wars where fought at a time when the church, state and geopolitical relationships of the nations involved where completely intertwined and that is not the case any more.

the queen isn't prancing about in a breastplate encouraging people to attack the Spanish partly to make money any more...

imo you're very likely to see vast swathes of "traditional" anglicans convert to catholicism off the back of the "liberal" push for things like female and gay clergy to be accepted within the CofE and very probably a wholesale split in the church along those lines.

virtually any time the anglican church is mentioned on the news in the UK atm its in relation to the turmoil that is ripping it apart.

Why would it want to? Isn't the whole point of their being lots of different churches that there's a splinter group to suit lots of different interpretations and beliefs?

I mean, re-uniting the church isn't much different to asking if every Christian in the world who isn't (say) a Mormon is going to convert to, is it?

In the foreseeable future no, but lets say there is a large conversion away from religion in the next 100 years(more so than now). At that point I think religious leaders would reconcile some of their differences to the point where they can bring a unified front to maintain religion in the world.

No. Simply put, the theological differences between all of the sects are too massive to reconcile. The differences between Protestants and Catholics alone are huge. It is like asking Liberals and Conservative to reconcile and come together; ain't gonna happen.

The oldest churches (Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Egyptian Coptic) are now quite different from each other; let alone the various protestant groups and the movements they spawned (Pentecostals, Evangelicals) or the ones that all those group consider cults like the JWs and Mormons.

After a while this all gets a bit tricky. Most of them can't agree on theological issues that end up creating a big gulf of understanding and practice. Take just one part of Christianity, baptism, and you can see there are huge differences is:
- What it means
- When it should happen
- How it should be performed
- What are the qualifications before a person can be baptized.

All four of those aspects have multiple answers each (shaped by tradition, theology and biblical readings) leading to vastly different views by the various groups. And that's just one, seemingly small, aspect of Christianity. When you start dealing with some of the big issues: Salvation, free-will, the Afterlife, and even which books belong in the bible - it becomes harder and harder to derive a religion that the majority of its adherents can agree on.

Not in any of our lifetimes. Perhaps in the future, when a new religion (or lack there of) becomes the vast majority, we'll see some splinter groups come together, but I still think that would be unlikely.

Edit: We might see a unification of some sorts, but only because smaller sects die out, thus leaving only the big players. But that's not really unification.

BreakfastMan:
No. Simply put, the theological differences between all of the sects are too massive to reconcile. The differences between Protestants and Catholics alone are huge. It is like asking Liberals and Conservative to reconcile and come together; ain't gonna happen.

the Anglican church isn't really "Protestant".

it's creation had nothing to do with the reformations going on the rest of Europe.
the queen (of the UK) is basically mini pope of it.

Well he can start by submitting to the Orthodox patriarch of Istanbul again, otherwise this will be up there with miss America wishing for peace on earth.

CAMDAWG:
Not in any of our lifetimes. Perhaps in the future, when a new religion (or lack there of) becomes the vast majority, we'll see some splinter groups come together, but I still think that would be unlikely.

Edit: We might see a unification of some sorts, but only because smaller sects die out, thus leaving only the big players. But that's not really unification.

Actually I see the sects diverging more and more. Apart from the ones that have centralised leadership a lot of groups are loosely affiliated and tend to divide over theological and pastoral issues all the time. Their theology evolves and some people change with it while others leave and start their own group or just stop bothering. So many groups have started and dissapeared while others have gone left-field from most versions of christianity and flourished.

No. It will never happen. The reason for these separations is because their is something in their dogma that makes the mutually exclusive from all other sects.

Shock and Awe:
The Orthodox Churches have been practicing giving the finger to the Pope for over a thousand years so I don't see that happening either.

What are you talking about! Eastern and Greek Orthodox churches are the closest friends of the Catholics! Until it was conquered the Pope used to hang out in Constantinople all the time! They share a common front with Protestants, and many Orthodox are actually welcomed back into Catholicism.

Hafrael:

Shock and Awe:
The Orthodox Churches have been practicing giving the finger to the Pope for over a thousand years so I don't see that happening either.

What are you talking about! Eastern and Greek Orthodox churches are the closest friends of the Catholics! Until it was conquered the Pope used to hang out in Constantinople all the time! They share a common front with Protestants, and many Orthodox are actually welcomed back into Catholicism.

I admit they are quite close on doctrine, but I just don't see them just following the Pope when they don't have to. Unless both make some serious concessions as are as leadership and organization I just can't see it happening.

Shock and Awe:

Hafrael:

Shock and Awe:
The Orthodox Churches have been practicing giving the finger to the Pope for over a thousand years so I don't see that happening either.

What are you talking about! Eastern and Greek Orthodox churches are the closest friends of the Catholics! Until it was conquered the Pope used to hang out in Constantinople all the time! They share a common front with Protestants, and many Orthodox are actually welcomed back into Catholicism.

I admit they are quite close on doctrine, but I just don't see them just following the Pope when they don't have to. Unless both make some serious concessions as are as leadership and organization I just can't see it happening.

They actually do, all the time. I'm forgetting exactly what it's called, but Orthodox persons essentially just have to give up their regional patriarch in favor of the Pope, with no other change in doctrine or anything, and be accepted back into the fold.

Hafrael:

Shock and Awe:

Hafrael:

What are you talking about! Eastern and Greek Orthodox churches are the closest friends of the Catholics! Until it was conquered the Pope used to hang out in Constantinople all the time! They share a common front with Protestants, and many Orthodox are actually welcomed back into Catholicism.

I admit they are quite close on doctrine, but I just don't see them just following the Pope when they don't have to. Unless both make some serious concessions as are as leadership and organization I just can't see it happening.

They actually do, all the time. I'm forgetting exactly what it's called, but Orthodox persons essentially just have to give up their regional patriarch in favor of the Pope, with no other change in doctrine or anything, and be accepted back into the fold.

Well thats no problem for individuals. I mean for the Church as a whole. I don't see the Patriarch of Moscow just saying, "You know what I need? That guy in the Vatican telling me how to do my job."

Could they reunite into one church? Nope. Not only do the various churches have all kinds of incompatible dogma, most Protestant sects emphasize individual interpretation of the Bible, stemming from pre-Reformation Catholicism's emphasis on the lay practitioners not reading or interpreting the Bible. This leads to a lot of "Screw this church, I'm starting my own." Oxford's "World Christian Encyclopedia" identified 33,820 denominations within Christianity in 2001, 22,150 in 1985. That'd imply over 700 new Christian denominations are founded every year.

But "reunite" is a misnomer. Christianity was never monolithic, it's just that for a long time the Catholic Church had the political clout to silence rivals, and their competitors are generally remembered as small bands of heretics, or not remembered at all.

What became the Catholic Church was just one sect among hundreds until the Roman Empire adopted it as its official religion. (It won that honor in large part because its doctrine had incredible political utility, particularly St. Augustine's inventions. Early Christians held onto the Jewish belief that the Fall gave Man total freedom to do good or evil, and it was up to him to guide himself toward righteousness. Augustine invented original sin, arguing that Man was tainted by evil, lacked the ability to govern his own affairs, and needed a strong leader to steer him toward good. Augustine also was the first to argue Christians could, and should, serve as soldiers: "The commandment forbidding killing was not broken by those who have waged wars on the authority of God." So yeah, clearly the best choice of sects if you're an emperor.) Many of these were the Gnostic sects, which tended to favor individual interpretation of the Bible, strict egalitarianism, asceticism, and mysticism. Most of the records regarding these sects were destroyed, but the so-called Gnostic Gospels were recently discovered, shedding new light on these groups. (I'd highly recommend the book of the same name by Elaine Pagels to anyone interested in this stuff, it's utterly fascinating.)

Another huge sect followed by most of the "barbarian" Germans was Arian Christianity. It emerged in the 200s and lasted well into the 600s, mostly the same as 4th century Catholicism, except it rejected the Pope's political hegemony and the Nicean Creed. (The "big" doctrinal difference was Catholics said God and Jesus were of the same substance, while Arians said they were of different but very similar substances. Really, the disagreement was about the temporal: the Pope wanted political control over the kings, the kings wanted to be independent.) This all changed when Clovis I converted from German paganism to Catholic Christianity, and with the Church's blessing he conquered and converted much of Gaul and Batavia. Other Germanic kings converted and did the same to their Arian neighbors.

Between then and the Reformation there were still tons of "heretic" movements, but most were snuffed out or driven underground. Eg, the Fraticelli, the Lollards, the Cathars (who basically ran most of Occitania until a crusade was called to wipe them out), the Waldensians, the Hussites...

And that's just in the traditionally Catholic countries. Beyond, we have the various Eastern Orthodox churches, the Nestorians, the Monophysites, the Miaphysites, the Bogomilists, the Byzantine Iconoclasts...

So yeah. The idea that Christianity was ever unified is a myth.

Edit: Aaaand I went off on such a tangent that I forgot to make the point I was going to make. Could the Christian sects reunite into one church? Nope. But around the 60's or 70's, they started working together a lot more than they ever used to. Used to be every denomination was at each others' throats, but in this day and age, they work together under the generic "Christian" banner to further their mutual interests. There's a great video by (of all people) Penn Jilette about this phenomenon, among others: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJGxVeQw3SE Relevant part starts at 4:00.

There are elements of unity within some of the US mega churches, they share Christian doctrine and any and all Christians are welcome to come and worship. Sermons focus on the teachings of Jesus and carefully avoid many of the divisions in organisation and doctrine that split Roman Catholic church in the first place, they have smaller side chapels and meeting chambers for specific sermons but generally they try to concentrate on what they share than what they don't. As for full unity? I doubt that could ever happen, in parts of Europe in particular animosity still runs deep between Protestants and Catholics. To much anger and blood over the years and although much of it has been forgotten it does not take much to bring it all out again, like in Northern Ireland.

Sleekit:

BreakfastMan:
No. Simply put, the theological differences between all of the sects are too massive to reconcile. The differences between Protestants and Catholics alone are huge. It is like asking Liberals and Conservative to reconcile and come together; ain't gonna happen.

the Anglican church isn't really "Protestant".

it's creation had nothing to do with the reformations going on the rest of Europe.
the queen (of the UK) is basically mini pope of it.

The Anglican Church doesn't really exist, the Monarch isn't its leader either. The Monarch is the leader of the Church of England and the Church of England is part of the Anglican movement. The Anglican movement, or the Anglican communion is basically all of the moderate Protestant Churches and groups that where originally banded together by sharing translated prayerbooks and embodying the "abandonment of popery". They also came together in defense against against radical Protestants as much as against Rome.

All (Christian) sects converting "back" into one unified "motherchurch", no, I don't expect they will.

However I do expect for a lot of the smaller denomination to pull closer, and eventually merge. Fewer and fewer people are relegious, and an even smaller amount of those people regularly attend services (or pay their tithes), smaller groups will have to merge or become extinct. This of course works best for the more moderate groups, and will be near impossible for extremists/fundamentalists.

Karma168:
The pope has recently began sending messages on twitter in an attempt to reach out into the digital world. One of the tweets caught my attention in that he was praying for the reunification of the church; this got me wondering, would that ever be possible?

The Eastern Orthodox, Anglican and perhaps some other the minor Oriental churches, all holding to an episcopalian tradition, would accept the primacy of the Bishop of Rome in terms of honour. Theologically, the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic churches are non-heretical to each other, so there is no consequential barrier there.

Some one time Oriental churches have returned to communion with the Catholics, although keep their individual character, rites and traditions. Similarly, the Catholic church had a friction-inducing tendency to try to steal Orthodox congregations (again leaving them their traditions and rites).

However, everything else is a negative. Few of these churches would accept the Pope's ecclesiastical superiority, and it is extraordinarily unlikely that the Catholic church would concede it either. There are large theological differences to overcome (except for the Orthodox), and in many cases a persistent, centuries-long bitterness.

Eleuthera:
All (Christian) sects converting "back" into one unified "motherchurch", no, I don't expect they will.

However I do expect for a lot of the smaller denomination to pull closer, and eventually merge. Fewer and fewer people are relegious, and an even smaller amount of those people regularly attend services (or pay their tithes), smaller groups will have to merge or become extinct. This of course works best for the more moderate groups, and will be near impossible for extremists/fundamentalists.

This already happened where I grew up. Three separate churches (The Methodists, The Baptists and the URC, there where talks with the Anglicans as well but for various reasons it would be tedious to lay out they pulled out of the project) now use the same building for services, because none of them had enough 'bums on seats' to keep their respective buildings open on their own. Over time, the congregations are slowly merging, with people attending services based on convenience or whether they like a particular preacher/minister rather than on the official denomination of the service.

Karma168:
The pope has recently began sending messages on twitter in an attempt to reach out into the digital world. One of the tweets caught my attention in that he was praying for the reunification of the church; this got me wondering, would that ever be possible?

First of all, I believe the Twitter thing is just the Catholic Church trying to stave off criticism that they're stuck in the dark ages. Of course the real way to solve that image problem is to address the problem of sexual abuse and accept that God loves people with penises just as much as he loves people with vaginas, but for now Twitter is making them feel alright about all this. Twitter is where they will put all their feel-good fluff to make themselves look good. The Catholic church has a long tradition of keeping their juicier discussions hidden from the view of the public, and I don't think Twitter is going to change that.

Most religions (I'll stick with Christianity) have numerous sects that have wildly varying interpretations on how they should follow their faith. From Catholics that believe god picks one man to lead them (at least from how I understand it) to Mormons that think Jesus came to America; sects have a massive variation in ritual, observations and practices.

Could they ever come back together into one 'church of Christianity'? Or would ideological differences just drive them apart again? And even if a single unified church wasn't possible could you see any 2 sects merging into a single larger one?

Same applies to any religion, could other religions that have moved apart in ideology (while still following the core religion) move back together to form a single group?

Oh no, nonononononono. No. They have been separated far too long and are way too independent of one another for this to happen. It's about as likely as the US forming back with England. They didn't separate on good terms, and now that they've been away for so long they are only more convinced they were right and the other is wrong. Denominations will come and go, rise and fade in size and significance, but they won't just "fuse back."

The most malleable group of Christians I can think of is the non-denominationals. But even then they sort of just pick and choose what Protestant beliefs to hold onto and just refuse to give themselves a label, the hipsters.

No way, it'll keep splintering further if anything.
What I could imagine happening is that a sort of "unification church" is established that tries to mash every splinter-sect into a somewhat compatible whole, but even if such a church came about and was successful (maybe it even exists and I'm simply unaware of it, probably because it'd be too insignificant on a global scale), it would never be able to absorb all the feuding sects into itself. You'd simply get another new sect instead.
But that's simply how it goes: Religion is about personal faith and interpretation and as such - since there is no objective, verified truth to be found, but only personal truth if you want to call it that - personal opinions will result in it further splintering into subgroups that think they have it right and the others have it wrong (other religions, non-religious), even if just slightly (other Christians).
In fact, I'm pretty sure the "reunification" the Pope would hope and pray for would involve the other sects "realizing the error of their ways" or something and flocking back to the Vatican's particular dogma.
Yes, the Vatican's, not the Catholics'. Because various Catholics vastly differ as well.
It's not really about coming together, it's about the others adopting "the right point of view" that the Pope obviously holds himself.

Karma168:
Could they ever come back together into one 'church of Christianity'? Or would ideological differences just drive them apart again? And even if a single unified church wasn't possible could you see any 2 sects merging into a single larger one?

The only way that would be possible is if the individual sects become too small to be relevant. If that would happen, they could potentially try to unite, just to increase their numbers and influence.
However, the moment that happens, it will be a sign that a religion is dying.

It's also worth adding that Christianity has always been splintered from the start. It is a myth that they were one big united group who slowly broke apart. If anything there were multiple Christianities that, for the most part, got stamped out by the RCC as they gained more power - although, even then, some of the groups survived (see the Coptics)

Christianity will unite... if they are correct and Jesus come's back and says who is specifically correct...

Short of that I severely doubt it. Unlike in the times of the medieval times where peer review got your head chopped off or burned at the stake, today we are free to do it at will, and those who have religion will disagree with each and every line and how much importance is meant to be placed on it and how its meant to be interpreted, leading to thousands of split offs...

I mean my RE teacher from a few years ago said she didn't believe "half the stuff the Pope comes out with".

Doubt it.

ElectroJosh:
It's also worth adding that Christianity has always been splintered from the start. It is a myth that they were one big united group who slowly broke apart. If anything there were multiple Christianities that, for the most part, got stamped out by the RCC as they gained more power - although, even then, some of the groups survived (see the Coptics)

The United Church was created and sought after by Constantine. He was the only one pushing for it and... Roman Emperor... kinda important guy, got his way, not only turning the Empire Christian, but then turning it into his version of christianity, which was of course get all the churches, put the old men somewhere unfomfortable, and force them to come up with one massive compromise of doctrine.
After all the churches were gathered togeather, from all the Empire and they were forced to mesh their Religion into 1... they achieved 2 (a fixed date for easter wasn't one of them) things:

1) The Bible
They picked and chose which parts of the bible were cannon... no really, this is where the term cannon comes from - Canological.
2) This Statement - The Nicene Creed

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

That's christianity. One Book, one statement... one God.
Everything else... still pretty much up for grabs...

Comando96:

The United Church was created and sought after by Constantine. He was the only one pushing for it and... Roman Emperor... kinda important guy, got his way, not only turning the Empire Christian, but then turning it into his version of christianity, which was of course get all the churches, put the old men somewhere unfomfortable, and force them to come up with one massive compromise of doctrine.
After all the churches were gathered togeather, from all the Empire and they were forced to mesh their Religion into 1... they achieved 2 (a fixed date for easter wasn't one of them) things:

1) The Bible
They picked and chose which parts of the bible were cannon... no really, this is where the term cannon comes from - Canological.
2) This Statement - The Nicene Creed

To Nitpick on point #1 - there hasn't, from what we can tell, ever been a point in history when all the (major) christian groups had a single canon that they all accepted. We do know that prior to the councils of Nicea there was no agreed upon canon nor was there one resulting from those councils.

But you are correct that the creed was used a "baseline" to combat Arianism and bring some stability. As such it could represent the closest to a united church that has existed. Although they didn't agree on the canon of scripture and, essentially, excluded whole groups of people who were considered Christians prior to those councils. Sort of a "unity though exclusion" approach.

Considering 'The Pope' is the head of a group that raped children, and then hid said rapists to protect them, I don't think HE should be the one to call for reunification.

If anything those cross dressing 'virgin' pedos sitting on golden thrones should disband and actually HELP the poor instead of just praying for them.

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