Perspectief 2014-26

2014-26 The Changing Face of Unity, or: Cutting the Right Edges 21 Reag eer because the presence of Jesus in the community of the Spirit by definition results in processes of mutual binding and bonding. Key Bible text in this respect is Matthew 18:20, ‘where two or three are gathered in my name’, says Jesus, ‘there I am in the midst of them.’ Jesus brings believers together, and binds them together by commitment, expectation, and service. Catholicity in terms of becoming (fieri) Accordingly, the binding and bonding character of a community depends primarily on the presence of Jesus by the Spirit, who comes and involves himself in the communal life. Therefore, the mark of catholicity is a gift, which comes and goes with Christ. Catholicity is not an eternal frozen state, but a process of grace, displayed in flux. By consequence, catholicity should not only be described in terms of esse (being), but in terms of fieri (becoming 2 ). Catholicity is the fullness of life mirrored in albeit one, yet, nonetheless many- faceted countenance of the body of Christ, never behaving univocally, but always somewhat ambiguously. 3 The very fibre of unity expressed in the body of Christ, is diverse and multi-faceted in itself. The church’s creative polymorphism may be the heart of its unity. At least, this seems to be occurring at grassroots level in a couple of Dutch Baptist churches. New forms of unity, concomitant with new forms of diversity, are emergent in our days. These new forms of unity I am inclined to consider as expressions of the imperishable gift of catholicity to the church. Modes of binding and bonding do transform, due to cultural and societal changes, and so does the formation of shared ecclesial identity. Western 2 The esse of the notae ecclesiae is an abiding predicate only in the presence of Jesus, who is consistently coming to the church, as also the Spirit is. 3 Cf. Karl Barth, Kirchliche Dogmatik IV,1 (Studienausgabe Band 23; Zürich: Theologischer Verlag Zürich) 726-765 (745: ‘die Einheit der Gemeinde, aber auch die Vielfältigkeit ihrer Gliedschaft nicht zu verleugnen’; 753: ‘legitime … Vielheit’; 765: ‘Von ihm her gesehen, wird ja dann bestimmt auch ihre wirkliche Einheit in größerer oder geringerer Ferne sichtbar werden’; cf. the WCC rapport The Church: Towards a Common Vision [Faith and Order Paper No. 214, World Council of Churches Publication, 2013] par. 9 ‘visible unity’, and par. 12 ‘legitimate diversity’), 783-795. The WCC document, quite consciously or unconsciously, used Barthian categories. See also E.J. Beker en J.M. Hasselaar, Wegen en kruispunten in de dogmatiek , Vol. 5: Kerk en toekomst (Kampen: Kok, 1990) 19, 99-122, 279-290.