“one body, and one Spirit, even as e are called in one hope ofrnvour calling, one Lord, one faith, one bapdsm, one God andrnFather of all, who is above all, and through all, and in ou all”rn(Ephesians 4:3-6). This organic imagery does not negate thernconcept of institutional unit}’, but it does not appear to requirernit. Wliat it does stress is an organic, spiritual, existential oneness.rnOrganizational unit}’ is neither a prerequisite nor a guaranteernof spiritual unit}’. Paul’s terminology does not exclude institutionalrnunity or organizational structure, but it does notrnseem to require it.rnSeveral European languages have adopted versions of thernGreek word, such as eglise (French) and iglesia (Spanish),rnwhich can easily suggest a single structure, but do not necessariU’rndo so. The Germanic words church, kirk, and Kirche haverndrawn upon a different Greek word, kuriakos, which meansrn”belonging to the Lord (Christ).” Neither ekklesia nor kuriakosrnrequires one to think in terms of an organized structure with arnunit}’ that is visible to all; both are certainly compatible with thernidea of a fellowship that is universal, extending across nationalrnboundaries and denominational divisions, but possessing a unit}’rnthat is spiritual and invisible, not structural and visible.rnIf one could point to a single Ghurch, such as the RomanrnGatholic Church, and show that it exhibits true spiritual unity,rnthen the Catholic appeal to “separated brethren” to comern”home to Rome” would be more plausible than it is. However,rnespecially since the Second Vatican Council, it has become evidentrnthat there is considerable doctrinal, spiritual, and moralrndisunity within the largest Christian communion, the structuralrnunity and the primac}’ of the pope notwithstanding. Returningrneveryone to Rome might merely increase confusion,rnnot establish unity. Evidently, there can be great spiritual unityrnamong traditional believers who belong to different confessionsrn(“historic Christians”) and virtually total disunity amongrnthose who belong to the same denomination.rnAfull outward, structural, visible unity among all of the followersrnof Christ has never existed. There have been disruptionsrnin the outward unity of the Christian Church from thernbeginning. The most dramatic was the Great Schism thatrnbroke the visible unit’ between Eastern Orthodox}’ and LatinrnCatholicism in A.t). 1054, but there were earlier breaks amongrnEastern Christians between the Chalcedonians, the monophysites,rnand the Nestorians.rnThe prospect of healing this schism between the Eastern andrnWestern churches was virtualh’ ruined by the Fourth Crusade,rnwhich conquered Constantinople instead of Jerusalem, doomingrnthe Romair (Byzantine) Empire to eventual conquest byrnthe Muslim Turks and creating a hostilit}’ between the Easternrnand Western branches of Christendom that has continued inrnvan’ing degrees up to the present. What remained of an appearancernof unity in the West was demolished by the ProtestantrnReformation, which produced not only hvo major branches,rnLutheran and Reformed, but also saw the rise of several differentrninterpretations of the faith, some that were orthodox andrnBible-centered branches, and others that rejected the Trinit}’rnand the deity of Christ. It was not Luther’s goal to found a newrnchurch, but rather to bring the one (Western) church back to arntruly evangelical faith and practice. Likewise, Calvin and hisrnfollowers wanted to reform the whole Church, not to establishrna separate Reformed Church. The ultimate outcome of thernReformation was the development of a swarm of competingrnChristian bodies, some of which continued to adhere to biblicalrnstandards and credal orthodoxy while others wanderedrnrather far from both. Memories of persecution by Catholicsrnand to some extent b}’ mainline Protestants make many in thernBaptist tradition war}’ of too intimate a contact even today.rnRoman Catholics are numerous enough and widely enoughrnspread around the globe to permit them to think of their ownrnorganization as the “catholic” church of the Apostles’ andrnNicene Creeds, the visible manifestation of the church that Jesusrnbrnlt and the home to which all Christian believers must resortrnin order to be “one” as Jesus wished. The Eastern Orthodoxrnalso tend to think of their own fellowship as the visiblernchurch founded by Christ, and in recent years some Orthodoxrngroups have succeeded in breaking out of their traditional ethnocentricit’rnand attracting converts from other backgrounds,rnincluding Protestants and Roman Catholics. Yet the prospectrnof all Christian believers becoming Orthodox seems even lessrnlikely than the thought that all might submit to the papacy.rnThe 20th century has witnessed the establishment of the ecumenicalrnmovement, and one of the motives behind the movementsrnthat led to the formation of the World Council ofrnChurches in the aftermath of World War II was the goal ofrnbringing Christ to the non-Christian peoples without confusingrnthem with confessional and denominational quarrels. The RomanrnCatholic Church did not join the World Council, but inrnthe 1960’s the influence of Pope John XXIII and the SecondrnVatican Council led to a recognition of Protestants as “separatedrnbrethren ” who, it was hoped, would eventuallv return tornRome. However, while trends to collaboration and unificationrnacross denominational lines were growing, a retreat from traditionalrndoctrinal convictions and moral standards was takingrnplace not only in mainline Protestantism but also in Catholicism.rnIndeed, there is more spiritual unity today among conservativesrnin the different confessions and denominations thanrnexists within individual denominations. Even Roman Catholicismrnhas largely given up its traditional practice of discipliningrnheretics with excommunication and tolerates the presence ofrnsome highly heterodox teachers. Essentially non-Christianrntrends exist within both the Catholic Church and the Protestantrnfellowships, so that both groups have numerous adherentsrnwho hardly deserve to be called Christians.rnIn this century, several different groups of Protestant churchesrnhave sought a measure of organizational unity: There havernbeen a number of church mergers and there are ongoing discussionsrnbetween officials and theologians of different denominationsrnseeking organizational imit}’. Unfortunately, such discussionsrnmore often than not seem to result in a sort of lowestrncommon denominator religion, involving the abandonmentrnnot only of the distinctive points of doctrine and practice thatrndi’ided the denominations but also giving up some of the foundationalrnprinciples of Christian faith and morals.rnConsequently, a traditional, believing, or conservativernProtestant will probably say that the only unit}’ that can bernachieved in the present spiritual climate is a spiritual unity, onernthat can be perceived by believers in different confessions andrndenominations. The late Georges Florovosky, a rather evangelicalrnOrthodox priest, used to say, “The Christian is never arnstranger where our blessed Lord is loved and worshiped.” Thisrnis not merely a unity faute de mieux, because of lack of anythingrnbetter, but may truly exemplify what Jesus meant when Hernpraved, “One, even as we are one.”rn20/CHRONICLESrnrnrn