Monday, April 07, 2008

Unity Series, Ch. 2: Hindrances to Unity, part 3

There was great disunity in the church in England and Scotland during the first half of the 17th century. There were three main groups—the Church of Scotland, the Church of England, and the dissenters (non-conformist congregational churches).

There were two unifying factors; all three were evangelical and all three were reformed (Calvinist). Why were they divided? State and Church government! The Church of Scotland was a state church with a Presbyterian form of government. The Church of England was a state church with an Episcopalian form of government. The Congregationalists wanted to have nothing to do with the state, Presbyterian, or Episcopalian forms of government. The Church of Scotland wanted to unite with the Church of England in a state church only if they had a Presbyterian form of government. And, of course, they wanted the dissenters to be in that church too. So they went to war!

The Puritans (dissenters from England) who came to Massachusetts during this time did not want to be in the state church in England or Scotland, but they immediately set up a state church where dissent was not allowed. Roger Williams was exiled from the Colony and founded Rhode Island.

There were three colonies of the thirteen that allowed freedom of religion, even though they were founded by people with a definite religion. They were Rhode Island, founded by Roger Williams, who was a Baptist, Pennsylvania, founded by William Penn, who was Quaker, and Maryland, founded by Cecil Calvert, Lord Baltimore, who was Roman Catholic.

This disunity was not based on differences in doctrine, but on who is in control. To put it more simply—the pride of man and loyalties to other than God.


(Taken from Day & Night: Unity Series, 2003)

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