I've recently spent some time in an ecumenical journey because I have felt God calling me to at the very least gain an understanding of what is going on with the food-bank and homeless support group known as “House of Bread” in my local town. While I was drawn into this group by ties with local Baptists, the group seems to involve a lot of other denominations including Methodists.. It has gotten me thinking about some of the differences there are between Christian denominations. I think it would have been foolish for me to explore this in the past, when I may have first felt called to do so, because I did not have a strong understanding of the theology portrayed by my church.
While I think a lot of the noticeable differences between denominations is down to differences in style, in terms of the dress code, and the age of the worship music being sung there does seem to be a whole myriad of different proxies in place between God and these congregations. The noticeable difference between a vicar and a pastor is not the dog collar, it is the fact that one acts as a proxy between a non-ordained believer and God, while the other acts almost as a team leader in group of born again believers. It strikes me as more awesome and in line with omnipotence that God can have a 1:1 relationship with every individual rather than go through specific ordained ministers. Still the early apostles were chosen specifically and I can understand how the Bible can be interpreted such that specific ordinations can still be made today in that same vein. However, if I was only able to communicate with my parents through a third party I don’t think I’d have a very good relationship with them.
One thing that does strike me as odd though is how there are things that are universally condemned by all churches pretty much, that aren't really explicitly condemned by the Bible, such as slavery, polygamy and paedophilia. In fact there are passages that talk specifically about how to treat your slave, or how to handle having multiple wives. However, there are things that are explicitly condemned in the Bible, like sex before marriage, homosexuality, women preachers, and drunkenness that seem to be a matter of contention between churches. And yes, those condemnations can subject to individual interpretation of the Bible, but the point I’m making is there is no contention on whether or not we should have slaves.
Having said all that I’m finding that there is great fellowship between Christians, even if our theology can be slightly different. The fact that we all have the same focus, Jesus Christ, means that I can get together with Methodists, Anglicans and Baptists and enjoy fellowship with them, even if that is pretty much the only thing we have in common.