In this age, called the Secular Age, by Canadian philosopher, Charles Taylor, the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ must, by pure force of defense from the many antagonists (which, also, shakes immature believers and those, for instance, who have been wounded by the sins or failures of mortal men within the Church), increasingly seek tangible, faithful expressions of fulfilling our Savior’s prayer in John 17,
“And now I am no more in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to thee. Holy Father, keep them in thy name, which thou hast given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.(John 17:11).
We must, also, think Biblically about the nature of the Church. The cynics, skeptics, and adversaries of the Church frequently cite organizational fragmentation within her Body, as if to do so diminishes the Christ-proclaimed supernatural nature of her reality.
I am, thus, happy to refer all to the published wisdom of Reverend Samuel Miller, D.D., professor of the Seminary at Princeton. A work released in 1832 contained these well-grounded thoughts which remain an important source of spiritual inspiration and appropriate apologetic today for the glorious Body of Christ on earth, our tent in the wilderness, until her desert-wind-swept canvas sides become the everlasting pillars of the Church Triumphant.
“This great visible Church is one, in all ages, and throughout the world. From its first formation in the family of Adam, through all the changes of the Patriarchal, Mosaic, and Christian dispensations, it has been one and the same ; having the same divine Head, the same ground of hope, the same essential characters, and the same great design. Diversity of denomination does not destroy this unity. All who profess the true religion, together with their offspring, however divided by place, by names, or by forms, are to be considered as equally belonging to that great family denominated the Church. The Presbyterian, the Episcopalian, the Methodist, the Baptist, and the Inde- pendent, who hold the fundamentals of our holy religion, in whatever part of the globe they may reside, are all equally members of the same visible community; and, if they be sincere, will all finally be made partakers of its eternal blessings. They cannot, indeed, all worship together in the same solemn assembly, even if they were disposed to do so; and the sin and folly of men have separated into different bodies those who ought to ‘walk together.’ Still the visible Church is one.” — The Rev. Dr. Samuel Miller, in AN ESSAY OF THE WARRANT, NATURE, AND DUTIES OF THE OFFICE OF RULING ELDE (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Church Board of Education, 1832), 13.