Within the context of the schism between the church of the East and the church of the West – who tried to contextualize the faith and practice of the church according to culture, East or West? Were they wrong to adapt or contextualize their faith? How does this apply to today?
Power produces pride, and from pride proceeds poison. For the paradoxes of Christianity, that poison takes the form of a destructive Either/Or mentality compared to a healthy Both/And mentality. As the church of the East and the church of the West allowed the seed of the gospel to bloom within their culture's soil, they forgot Paul's message that The Church is a body with many parts. Thus when they claimed power by attempting to prune the other church's flowers, because they looked different from their own, they effectively cut off The Church's own arm.
The Schism of the Eastern and Western church resulted largely from differences in faith and practice as each church contextualized the gospel for their respective cultures. Control was stressed by the Western church as it mediated amongst a myriad of warring municipalities. It's understandable then why it pushed Latin as the single ecclesiastical language with an urgent legal mindset that rejected philosophical musings for concrete doctrinal formulas that settled all questions. Experimentation was afforded by the Eastern church under a united empire. Stability produced confidence to use Greek and Syriac in addition to Latin, with abstract thought which embraced philosophy to debate the best answers. Realizing the necessity of contextualization, the churches could have fostered a Both/And mindset and mutually learned from one another instead of pridefully excommunicating each other with an Either/Or mindset of superiority.
As The Church on mission, we're called to live in a paradox, delivering the message that it is either Jesus Christ or nothing, while accepting theological conundrums such as God as both three and one. However, we should learn from Christ's disciples who bickered over who was the greatest, by embracing servant-hood over pride inducing power and its church splitting poison.
Brett Yardley: Warrior for Christ. Devoted Husband. Proud Father. Martial Artist. Hopeful Philosopher & Theologian. Aspiring Teacher & Writer.