John Loftus has a really really tough question for us:
I’m not sure if I’m smart enough to answer his question, but I’ll give it the old college try.
“But let me just stick to Evangelical Christianity here in America...they live in the same country…There are several major dividing denominational issues, which cause splits in the local churches. Some of these issues include, the role of women in the church, the nature of charismatic gifts, the nature of the Bible, the issue of soteriology and sanctification, Calvinistic predestination/election, eschatology, church polity, and of course many ethical, political and social issues, like the war in Iraq, capital punishment, the separation of church and state, euthanasia, and even abortion and cloning. So what do you make of this phenomena among Evangelicals who have the only sure revelation from God? What's wrong with this picture?
How can the Christian explain this situation, since he or she believes in the Holy Spirit's guidance? Where's that guidance?"
Gee, I dunno. Is there something wrong with this picture?
Yeah, they all live in the same country.
Wait! Come to think of it, America is a country of immigrants, right?
That means you have Lutherans from Northern Germany, Methodists, Baptists, and Episcopalians from jolly old England, Catholics from Poland and the Emerald Isle, as well as Presbyterians from Scotland, to name a few. They come from countries with state churches to a country with no state church.
See a subtle pattern emerging here? Pretty inexplicable, huh?
So they bring these preexisting nationalistic divisions right along with them.
Beyond that you also have a liberal/conservative divide. Since liberals don’t believe in the authority of Scripture, they naturally disagree with conservatives over the social issues. This is not an issue of interpretation, but authority.
Pretty inexplicable, huh?
Since I’m not a charismatic, I don’t believe that God gives Christians the interpretation of Scripture.
As to Jn 17, Loftus assumes, without benefit of argument, that this has something to do with ecumenism.
On my reading, it’s not about the micro issue of sectarian divisions, but the macro issue of Jews and Gentiles coming to faith in a common Messiah throughout the church age.
So that’s what I make of this imponderable phenomenon. Next question?