One entry found for unity.

Main Entry: uni·ty
Pronunciation: 'yü-n&-tE
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural -ties
Etymology: Middle English unite, from Anglo-French unité, from Latin unitat-, unitas, from unus one -- more at ONE
It's been almost a year since we took the polling data and ignored Dave Armstrong, and let me admit that I have betrayed you, my readers. I stopped ignoring him this week, but it's all Phil's fault for mentioning ol' Dave in a TeamPyro post. See: I thought Dave was not not-interacting with “anti-catholics” again, and I went over to see what the hub-bub was about.

What I found was a discussion about how disunited Protestantism was, and how that's an affront to the statement Jesus made about unity, and of course some hoopla over some things Phil's Pulpit Live article (which is a reprint of old material) got (in Dave's words) wrong.

In the mix of things happening in Dave's meta, the matter of unity somehow continued to be the topic. In fact, I was chastised for not understanding what “unity” is (and therefore I am, apparently, unable to understand what “disunity” is), so I thought I'd do a little thinking out loud here at the blog for my own benefit and the benefit of you faithful readers who share my utter fascination with the English language.

m-w.com has 6 major headings under the noun “unity”, and we're going to think about them in reverse order.

6 capitalized : a 20th century American religious movement that emphasizes spiritual sources of health and prosperity
While I hesistate to say that anything in this discussion might be clear – especially without a magisterial decision on the matter – it seems clear to me that when DA and his current bevy of meta-readers use this word, they do not mean the abberant pseudo-religion of Unity. I could be wrong, but since the Pope doesn't belong to Unity, this is probably not their point.

Thus, the next definition:
5 : any of three principles of dramatic structure derived by French classicists from Aristotle's Poetics and requiring a play to have a single action represented as occurring in one place and within one day
I'm pretty sure DA and JPrejean aren't talking about French lit aesthetics, either, although I am sure they would have something absolutely rivetting to present on the subject. Maybe we'll have a seminar next year or something.

4 : a totality of related parts : an entity that is a complex or systematic whole
Seriously now: this one actually has some potential. They might actually be saying that Roman Catholicism has “unity” because it has a complex or systematic (I would argue for “and” not “or”) totality. It is an assembly of parts which all fit together, and therefore it has unity.

So for example, when Dave says, “Doctrinal contradiction of any sort is absolutely at odds with biblical teaching, which repeatedly urges unity and forbids divisions of any kind among Christians,” Dave may in fact be thinking that the Bible says unless every doctrine fits inside the “totality” of doctrine in “relation to” the rest of the parts, the doctrines which do not fit must be false. Keep in mind that the texts he's using to get there is John 17:22-23, Acts 4:32 and 2 Peter 2:1-2.

The really odd thing is that systematic theologies exist inside Protestantism. Charles Hodge wrote one; Robert Reymond has written one; Wayne Grudem has written one. So there is clearly at least one systematic understanding of the Christian faith from outside of the Catholic paradigm, and those systematic theologies have, by a long shot, more in common than not. So if the objection is that Protestants don't have a systematic understanding of the faith, that's just not true.

It is also possible that Dave means that we don't have “just one” systematic understanding of the faith – for example, there are some differences between Grudem and Hodge which cannot be resolved except to say that one of them must be wrong. In Dave's view, that's simply poison: you mean Grudem and Hodge do not agree to the efficacy and acceptable modes of baptism? Why – that's devastating! You cannot be in Christ if you don't have a systematic theology of baptism which can correctly outline every possible effect of baptism on the belief and on the church! You must be wrong! And disunited!

The problem with that view of what Dave is trying to say is that Dave doesn't think that it's the beliefs of the layman which is the measuring stick of unity or disunity. So if someone – as he has mentioned on his blog just recently – doesn't have the same view of the Eucharist as the Magisterium, that's not disunity but ignorance or rank disobedience and sin. If that's true, then the same ought to be true of the ranks in Protestantism. You know: Wayne Grudem is a guy with a Ph.D. – not a pastor. So his Systematics may be academically interesting, but they are not necessarily binding, and you can't actually judge all of Protestantism by the views of one layman, or even two or three laymen. Because laymen aren't the measuring stick, right?

But to get clarity on what Dave means, he takes that and applies it in this way: “Virtually nothing is more strongly and repeatedly condemned in the Bible than divisions, sectarianism, and denominationalism. The Bible teaches that there is one Church only, with one truth and one unified apostolic tradition.” So unity is not just about having one systematic reference point, but it is actually about having a “unified apostolic tradition” and also having “one Church only”, and also about being forbidden to have “divisions”.

So ultimately, Dave doesn't mean definition 4, it seems.

Let's try #3:

3 a : the quality or state of being made one : UNIFICATION b : a combination or ordering of parts in a literary or artistic production that constitutes a whole or promotes an undivided total effect; also : the resulting singleness of effect or symmetry and consistency of style and character
Ah, yes! Yes! “being made into one”, especially “the resulting singleness of effect”. I am certain I could not have said it better myself.

So having one leader, or one institution – that's unity! So for example if there is an Eastern Orthodox branch and a Roman branch there's ... not ... um ... there's not any, uh, there's a lot more unity than, say, in Baptist churches where we count every Baptist church as its own denomination because they technically have local polity and not a global corporate network. All those local Baptist churches are schismaniacs – joined together as they are to send out missionaries and form the largest relief organization in the world.

But priests who don't deny the Eucharist to practicing homosexuals are inside unity, professors who teach liberal doctrine from tenured positions in Catholic institutions are inside unity, and the various and sundry “apostolates” run by lay-Catholics which seem to have discovered they aren't all reading out of the same play book: all inside unity. Because there's only one Pope, after all, and that's what we mean when we are being made into one and have a resulting effect of singleness.

Yeah. Number 2:
2 a : a condition of harmony : ACCORD b : continuity without deviation or change (as in purpose or action)
I asked Dave a question about baby baptism on his blog, and he didn't answer it as of this writing, so we'll come back to this one. My question was, “Roughly speaking, what percent of, um, Catholics in the second century were baptized as infants? I'd settle for really rough percentages -- less than 10%, 20, 40, 60, 80, more than 90%, or 100%?” Given that today roughly 99% of all Catholics are baptized as babies (the other 1% are adult converts), the issue of continuity can be quickly reconciled based on this critical piece of faith in practice.

We'll come back to that one. Last but not least:
1 a : the quality or state of not being multiple : ONENESS b (1) : a definite amount taken as one or for which 1 is made to stand in calculation (2) : IDENTITY; ELEMENT
Well, I have to give them this one: there's only one person who – in all seriousness – can really lay claim to the Papacy today, and if the Papacy if the cornerstone of unity, then that's that. If there's no question that there was a Pope in the sense that today Benedict is a Pope back in the first 3 or 4 centuries of the faith, then it's all over.

But you just can't find a guy like that prior to Gelasius in 492-496. For example: how did Peter the Fuller take the see of Antioch as Bishop in ~470 if Simplicious was Pope the way Benedict is Pope? Why did Martyrius (the guy Peter deposed) go to Constantinople to complain to the Emperor Leo rather than to Simplicious to get recourse for being deposed? Doesn't the Pope appoint all Bishops? Doesn't he have that kind of authority?

So if we're going to talk about Unity, let's do it. It is a great topic, and it gets so many people riled up.

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