Learning from one another

Daily Reading for August 30 • Charles Chapman Grafton, Bishop of Fond du Lac, and Ecumenist, 1912

Many good Christian people will say about this or like correspondences, “What a pity it is that clergymen should indulge in such discussions. It does no good. It does not convince anyone. It only widens the breach between Christians. It arouses hot, perhaps angry, feelings. It disturbs the peace of the inner life. Let us live together in peace, without fault-finding criticisms!”

There is much of truth in all this. To a devout person, a controversy is always a painful matter. The divisions in Christendom must be weakening to Christianity, and painful to our Lord. But we must remember that, as each one must, as St. Paul declares, give a reason for the faith that is in him, the duty of investigation rests upon all. Our Lord bade His hearers search the Scriptures, and see if these things He taught were so. It will not therefore do for us, any more than for the Jews, to say we were brought up in a certain faith, and therefore will not inquire. Whatever the Holy Spirit has taught us by experience, as for instance our conversion, if a Methodist, or the Real Presence, if a Roman Catholic, we should not reopen. But many questions which divide Christendom, we should, in the spirit of charity, be willing to investigate.

Ought we not at least to try to understand one another? Sad as are the divisions of Christians, is it not likely that each body stands for some truth or practice, which has either been overlooked, or disproportionately stated? In the love of Christ which should bind all Christians together, we should strive, not to exaggerate, but to minimize our differences. We must remember that all who are baptized are members of Christ, and so of His Church. And as the Holy Spirit, given to all at Pentecost, dwells in the whole body, we ought to be willing to learn from one another.

From “An Eirenicon, or Olive-Branch”: A Correspondence between the Rt. Rev. Bishop of Fond du Lac and the Rector of St. Patrick’s Church, Fond du Lac (Fond du Lac: The Daily Commonwealth, 1909).

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