Sunday, August 26, 2012

Breaking Bread within a Divided Orthodoxy

Simply put, what theological ideas, opinions, and doctrines should we refuse the breaking of bread over? I know arminians that wouldn't be caught dead breaking bread with egalitarians, and I know calvinists who would rather pull out their teeth than break bread with a republican.

So, what should divide us? As I see it, the breaking of bread is a sacred act. The willingness to sit, eat and fellowship together is something that, in it's own way, gets us closer to God. Think about it.

We eat to sustain ourselves, but we also eat to enjoy it. The same with drink. We loosen our guard when we sit, relax and open up sustenance with another brother or sister. I wonder if it is because we are afraid of changing our minds, or compromising our beliefs. Part of doesn't want to break bread with those that I disagree with. I won't name anyone, but suffice to say I'm not quite proud of who makes that list.

In my changing mind, I think it becomes sin when we exclude other believers and refuse communion with them. Not communion in a doctrinal or liturgical sense, but in the sense of fellowship and community. We are a community of believers and sinners. It seems odd that we would section ourselves off from one another. Paul called out Peter pretty strongly about refusing to eat with Gentiles, calling it contrary to the Gospel.

Are we not fulfilling the Gospel if we refuse to break bread with other believers? And at what point do we put doctrine over fellowship? I remember that this schism started over the concept of compromising fellowship and doctrine, and for many, doctrine trumps fellowship.

Should it?

Part of me says yes. There are some things that I think Scripture clearly doesn't teach. but I also feel compelled to say that Christians are quicker to divide with other Christians, and I fear what the world sees when that division takes precedence. There is a time and place for loving division.

But at what cost? Exclusion of other Christians that we view as "barely" Christian? What about atheists and skeptics and post-christians and progressives and dispensationalists and those who hold to covenant theology? What about the Eastern Church and Catholics?

If we are a community, then we are the most fractious collection of children in our collective playpens. We tend to not play well with other kids. Maybe the point is to create a community where disagreement is encouraged, provided it is done in the pursuit of truth. Maybe the point is larger than us. Maybe instead a community simply needs to be created so apologetics and outreach can flourish.

We are that community.



  1. That was one of my main questions and concerns when I became a Christian 3 years ago. It's almost like there's a gang mentality pervading many churches. We don't like other denominations and need to get the unchurched on our crew before the others do.

  2. How we act toward those that we disagree with shows more about our character than how we treat people that think the same as we do.

    To shut differing beliefs out is to say that we have everything figured out, but also shows that we don't care enough to help others to come to the same belief.

    I think most people are willing to admit that no single denomination has all the answers. The church, meaning the global community of those claiming their belief in Christ(for better or for worse), would be better off pursuing what we can agree on and allowing the differences to be there.

    I can't remember if it was Shane Claiborne or Tony Campolo that suggested in Red Letter Revolution( that we should look for the worst in our own denomination and seek out the best in others.