Welcome to the first edition of the Christian Reconciliation Carnival. If you hope for reconciliation, if you pray for reconciliation, even if you don't expect to see it in your lifetime, please participate in the conversation.
Food for thought: most current estimates show the Christian church divided into 20,000 to 30,000 different groups. If each theological difference causes a split, and each distinct group has a unique combination of beliefs, that works out to only about 15 actual differences. (2 to the 15th being 32,768.) Beyond that, there are far fewer major groups (maybe a dozen). Unfortunately all 15 of the same issues are probably still in the picture with the dozen groups.
The General Interest folks get a free pass from needing to disclose denominational affiliation, since if it's really general interest, everyone should be able to appreciate it.
Ales Rarus asks Have Christian Bloggers Lost the Plot? in this valuable vintage piece on humility over fault-finding from the Funky Dung archives.
Dr. Platypus considers open communion, closed communion, spiritual needs and spiritual witness in Landmarks, Lutherans, and the Liturgy. Being a staunch supporter of reconciliation, he also continues his Tuesdays with Mary series in Tuesdays with Mary: A Protestant "Hail Mary"?, and his examination of the general issue of fairness in our conversations with When Protestants Attack, which is in essence a plea: "Let’s just strive to behave Christianly—and intelligently—when we disagree, shall we?"
Henry Neufeld boldly steps into the Calvinist/Arminian divide with Decisive Verse, Decisive Choice, which ponders the debate from each side for a moment, comments on what we know for certain, probes where knowledge's limits lie and the extent to which peaceful coexistence is possible.
Mark Olson of Pseudo-Polymath writes on Race, Prejudice, and the Necessity or Urgency of the Ecumenical Movement, in which he makes and backs this claim: the ecumenical schisms of the modern church is a crisis of global proportions. I tend to agree. While denominational affiliation isn't asked for posts in this section, Mark did mention: he's Eastern Orthodox (OCA). And I was hoping we'd get Constantinople in on the conversation.
Alan of the Thinklings, after finding how few Calvinists and Arminians are willing to call each other heretics as opposed to simply mistaken, pushes the boundaries wider in So Who Is A Heretic?, which ends up being a nice reversal of the heretic-hunting mentality. This post was nominated rather than directly submitted by the author.
"I thought creationists were monsters, until I married one" is the leading line of Enemy Mine, a round-up submission written by Caleb of Connected Christianity, a new blog with real promise for those interested in re-connecting with our brothers and sisters in other denominations. The point, as with so many, is that we get nowhere by demonizing each other and much further when there is respect.
Question and Answer
Nobody submitted any questions. Questions can just be submitted by email and don't prevent you from submitting "real posts" to the Carnival. So I'll kick off the questions with a very low-key question: Can anybody think of a nifty graphic or logo for the Carnival?
Topic of the Month: Strawman Parade
For this month's suggested topic, each post explains common misrepresentations of their own group and what is the real truth of the matter.
Jeff "Japhy" Pinyan, in the first officially-submitted entry ever to the CRC, leads off with CRC: Do Catholics Worship Mary?. Japhy is Roman Catholic.
Codepoke, who admittedly avoids church membership, discusses why and the misrepresentations made of him as a Lone Ranger Christian. I'm really glad to see the Lone Rangers represented here; there are an awful lot of them. Let's call Codepoke's denomination "Lone Ranger".
Your hostess describes two straw men often seen in discussions about Scriptural interpretation: a common mischaracterization of Sola Scriptura and also the idea that a plain reading of Scripture renders it impossible to understand figures of speech.
Discussions and Debates
It's the very first Christian Reconciliation Carnival, announced barely a week ago. Nobody can possibly have had time to start a real discussion or debate yet. (Many of the potentially-interested parties likely haven't even heard of this Carnival yet because I'm terrible at promotion.) So here I offer two examples of discussions/debates that were conducted by people who really disagreed, but because they were patient and brotherly towards each other as well as passionate about the things of God, the end result was edifying. Debates between Christians that are more like honey than like fingernails on a chalkboard? Who would have imagined?
These posts are some examples of healthy debates I've noticed around the 'net myself.
Interchange #1: Was Bonhoeffer too legalistic? Between Rick Richie of Daylight and John H. of Confessing Evangelical. They're both Lutheran but differ on something they considered worth debate. For the earlier debates here, it's probably best if we don't try to tackle the biggest and nastiest problems first, without having met each other or mapped out the common ground and great divides.
Interchange #2: Charismatics and Cessationists, between Adrian Warnock for the charismatics and Dan Philips of Pyromaniacs for the cessationists.
Call for Hosts
If you are interested in hosting, please drop an email to the Carnival address along with a month that would work for you. Carnivals will take place at the very end of one month / very beginning of the next at the host's discretion.
Hosting guidelines are available; but long story short: make sure it stays civil, and make sure the discussion isn't hijacked or blogswarmed by any one group or topic. And if your blog's usual topic is "Why Everyone Else Is Wrong", I'd have to respectfully decline the hosting offer. Nobody who has contributed so far takes that line so I say this only to head off future trouble; this Carnival shouldn't be hosted at why_everyone_else_is_wrong.com.
Next month's Carnival will be hosted by Dr. Platypus. Submissions are due by February 28th. Check Dr. P's blog for further announcements.
And thank you everybody for participating! I was encouraged to see how many people around the blogosphere are writing about Christian reconciliation.