Uniformity we can do without—but not unity.
By Louis Lotz
Grandma liked to tell the story of how, when her family immigrated to America, her father decreed that German was not to be spoken at the dinner table, only English. “Ve are Americans—ve speak American now!” Assimilation was the ideal.
Times have changed. Today, pluralism is the ideal. This is not necessarily a bad thing. But a society in which differences are accentuated must invariably become more individual and less communal. Celebrating differences, when pressed too far, makes a casualty of cohesion.
One of the issues facing the RCA is that of denominational cohesion. There is a creeping congregationalism in the land. Increasingly, churches act like autonomous bodies, doing what they think is right, rather than reflecting Reformed traits. I have no problem with diversity per se, but I like to think of the RCA as a great choir, not a collection of soloists.
If diverse elements do not recognize an essential unity and share a common vision, then diversity breeds fragmentation, separatism, and ultimately, anarchy. Uniformity we can do without—but not unity.
How do we nourish unity in our denominational family? How do we keep all our soloists singing in harmony? I think the answer has something to do with communication. Where there is no communication, soon there will be no community, only a spatter of quarrelsome factions. We need to communicate with one another, whatever our differences of race, ethnicity, gender, or theology. We need to swap stories, celebrate each other’s victories, feel each other’s pain, and try to see the world through other eyes.
Frankly, that’s why this magazine is important. Even at only three issues a year, this is the best communication vehicle we possess. Think about it: how else do RCA churches in New York know what RCA churches in Iowa are up to? How else can RCA members in Florida know what’s happening in California?
Let’s continue to share our own stories and listen to each other’s. If your church has a great story to share, I’d bet the editors would be happy to hear about it.
“Signs of the Kingdom” is written by and reflects the opinions of Louis Lotz, a retired RCA pastor who lives in Hudsonville, Michigan.