An Untempered Schism

Regardless of how one pronounces it, a schism is a serious thing.  The division of the Church into East and West, and the rift opened up between Wittenberg and Rome are some of the saddest realities in the Body of Christ.  The ever stimulating Peter Leithart has a new blog post wherein he reviews Deep Church Rising: The Third Schism and the Recovery of Christian Orthodoxy (Cascade Books, 2014), a new book by Andrew Walker and Robin Parry.


Walker and Parry posit that the Enlightenment has produced another great divide within Christendom.  While it is surely right that the Philosophes and their successors have presented an enormous challenge that has wormed its way into the Church, it is not clear that “schism” is the right term for this disruptive influence.  While Leithart finds their description interesting and their case for orthodoxy compelling, their overall argument falls flat.  The book is worth reading, but they fail to make their case.  Easterns maintain the supremacy of liturgy, Catholics tradition, and Protestants claim Scripture.  The Enlightenment trumpets human reason from the rooftops, a heresy that produces heterodox cults, not churches.

In 2010, Dr. Albert Mohler addressed Westminster Theological Seminary with the words of Oliver Wendell Holmes: “I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.”  As Evans has elsewhere argued, the need to simplify is real and vital, but all too easy to miss.  While the Enlightenment is indeed the 800-pound gorilla in the room for theology, it is a not a Christian gorilla.  We don’t call Gnosticism or Arianism “schisms” though they survive to this day, and neither should we dignify the cult of autonomous human reason with the moniker.

About Robert Marshall Murphy

8 years in healthcare, now in seminary.

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