Reviewing two books on the history of the early church in today’s Church Times, the Revd. Dr. Cally Hammond writes this:
“In the beginning of Christianity, there were disputes between moral purists and moral pragmatists.
“There were literalists who said they alone truly understood what the Bible was saying to believers; and scholars who perceived metaphor and allegory at work in the written Word. There were believers who wanted to keep themselves separate from the mainstream Churches, which they saw as corrupt and compromised; African bishops who denounced the Western Church for lax morals and betrayal of doctrinal principles; Churches that chose their own bishops, rejecting those appointed for them as doctrinally or morally imperfect . . .
“There were individualists doing their own spiritual thing, and those who wanted to impose uniformity and discourage such spiritual independence. There were rivalry, abuse, name-calling, bitterness, suspicion, and even violence.”
Ecce ecclesia! Plus Ã§a change, plus c’est la mÃªme chose.
Marx said that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce - and then as Monty Python!
This Christmas, amidst all our disagreements and quarrels, perhaps we should remember that when the Word became flesh, he couldn’t speak, theologise, or dispute - he could only cry. And long for love. Ecce infans!