From Clarion Vol. 38, No.
Whoever does the will of
God is My brother, and sister, and mother. Mark 3:35
The fierce battle that is waged on the frontline of church and gospel and kingdom of God, is a battle that has to do with the holy war, and thus also with the holy peace.
There are some who get up and announce the holy war to one and all. They read the article of faith regarding the Church in their own fashion and with their own emphasis. They read it like this: I believe a holy catholic Christian church. And when the "una sancta" is mentioned, that is to say 'the one holy church,' they'll emphasize beforehand that little word "sancta," the one holy church. It is the holiness of the church they are after; so they inquire about the norm of the church-gathering work, and no sooner have they found that yardstick than they'll call out the holy war for the holy church.
Others, however, say: that will never work. They would rather call out the holy peace, soft-voiced. They, too, read the article of faith about the church. They do this in their own fashion and with their own emphasis. They read it like this: I believe a holy catholic church. And when these people, in their turn, hear the "una sancta" being mentioned, they will put the emphasis differently again. They will put it on the word "una"; and think "one," which little word is not even found here in the Twelve Articles of Faith. I believe the "una sancta," the "one only" holy church. They have been taken in by the unification principle. They'll do anything for that unification, and they'll never stop looking for it either.
Before long, tragedy will strike, because from the two groups of searchers for the one holy church there will, in a little while, arise two armies that combat each other. The one army operates under the slogan: the "una sancta," the one holy church; but is, meanwhile, forgetting the call for communion. It neglects the unification principle and runs away with ... an abstraction. The other army organizes itself for the "una sancta," the one holy church; meanwhile, it is forgetting the call for holiness, while it neglects the obedience principle. And before long it, too, will start running away with an abstraction, once again. At first both armies were marching along with one single rallying cry. But because the one emphasizes the first word and the other the second (detaching it from the other word and thus making it into an abstraction), those who started off marching together will end up fighting each other.
No longer will there be peace between these armies, unless each of them returns to Him who as Mediator of God and man, is going to guide us and convert us continually. In doing this He delivers us from our sin of willfulness which caused our problem to be stated incorrectly. For Christ, administering His office among the people, does join the part called 'holiness and obedience' to the other part, the 'unity and communion principle.' "Whoever does the will of God": this is the holiness part; in other words: living in accordance with the perfect norm, this being the law. "[He/She] is my brother, and sister and mother." Here you have the unity, the communion. Only the unity built by obedience will endure. And conversely: all expressions of obedience build their own unity and preserve it.
We do well if we are paying attention to this, also in our own age. Whether we like it or not, we, too, are caught up in the tension between putting either the holiness-principle first, or the communion-principle first. There is a kind of "brotherliness" which no longer bothers to seek obedience before anything else. This kind of "brotherliness," however, brings together our own "dear buddies" but not the "brothers" of the Lord Jesus Christ. This activity does not edify the church; rather, it forms a club, perhaps even an "edifying club." In the other camp you'll find those who never let up advancing their views about the holiness of the church. They'll go through fire and water to advance their own interpretation of the church and push their own man made contrasts more and more into extremes. But in doing so, they are forgetting the unification-principle, tor they fail to understand that this unification-principle is part and parcel of obeying the law and that it, therefore, also belongs to the very call for holiness itself. These people like to get all fired up about their own personal opinions, but their cosy little circle of likeminded persons will become a sect before long, or some little club. In the meantime they are burying the divine commandment under their own human (far too human) decrees.
A radical turnabout for the best would take place in all those relationships of family, friends, community and church, too, it people would once more submit themselves to the majesty of Christ's words: "Whoever does the will of the Father is My brother." The holiness and catholicity of the church are one; and there is no true relationship (lasting all the way into heaven) unless this word is adhered to.
[*] <RETURN>Schriftoverdenkingen 11, Goes 1957, pp. 127-128. The italics correspond with those the author used in his article. R.K.