Is a Church Split Inevitable?

It feels as if the Christian Reformed Church is headed for a denominational divorce over LGBTQ+ concerns. Is a church split inevitable?

The quick answer, of course, is that “with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26), and therefore no, a split is not inevitable. But even though this verse reflects an eternal truth, it can be more reflective of our desire for a quick fix of a complex issue than an expression of our faith. There are a number of factors that will determine whether the denomination's collective response will maintain church unity or provoke a split.

In a marriage, when divorce is being considered, a couple’s motivation to stay together plays a big role. It takes only one person to break a relationship, but the desire and work required for a marriage to go forward and become healthier cannot succeed if both partners are not highly motivated to work for success. One person alone cannot make it happen. (Here is the official position of the CRCNA on divorce.)

Similarly, a denomination such as ours—binational, theologically Reformed, accepting not only of “special grace” but also of “common grace,” active in culture rather than dismissive of it—must be motivated to make unity (i.e., belonging) a priority.

It seems our particular church of Jesus is facing the same crossroads that many other Christ-believing denominations have had to resolve one way or another—namely, should our denomination stay together or split apart? Help!        

And that is the best option for all of us: to turn to God for help in times of trouble. Jesus' last recorded prayer before his ascension was about unity (John 17). It appears that Jesus' last prayers have not yet been answered, but we can trust that they have been heard.

About the Author

Judy Cook is a family therapist and a member of Meadowlands Fellowship CRC in Ancaster, Ontario.
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