Friday, December 2, 2011

Baptist World Alliance General Secretary on "God's Gift of Unity"

Neville Callam
The current issue of the Baptist World Alliance magazine Baptist World includes an article summarizing an address on "God's Gift of Unity" delivered by BWA General Secretary Neville Callam at a Christian Unity Dinner during the American Baptist Churches USA biennial meeting in Puerto Rico this summer (vol. 58, no. 4 [October/December 2011], p. 27). Below is an excerpt from the first portion of that article:

Christian Unity is both a gifts given by God and a demand placed upon the church, declared Baptist World Alliance General Secretary Neville Callam.

Callam made these claims while delivering the keynote address at a Christian Unity Dinner during the American Baptist Churches (ABC) USA Biennial meetings in Puerto Rico in June. "It is Christ who unites us and sets us free," he said. But "the church has an abligation to manifest the unity that is given in Christ 'so that the world may believe.'"

It is important, the BWA leader stated, that this unity is visible within the church. "The church's vocation to unity [must] faithfully be pursued" through "honest and deep work to discover convergences in understanding of the Christian faith, life and witness." The church, Callam claimed, should be clear on the points on which there are agreements, where there are differences, "and the perspectives that could serve as a bridge over differences...not regarded as church dividing."

Callam indicated that there are several rubrics through which Christian unity can be viewed--spiritual unity, a unity that all Christians and churches share; conciliar fellowship, where churches are "reunited" to their historical base; koinonia, which is "given and expressed in a common confession of the apostolic faith;" and reconciled diversity, where "churches strive to recognize in themselves and in others the one holy catholic and apostolic church in its fullness," penetrating "behind their differences to discover the space where they co-exist in Christ." (continue reading the full article on p. 27 of the linked PDF copy of the magazine)

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