Rev. Larry Beane, a.k.a. Father Hollywood, has a profound and most encouraging post,
The Church: Rent and Distressed. He makes the point that, despite our search for the perfect and unified church, one mark of a true church is Satan’s opposition, and thus to the church’s constant assaults with heresies and schisms that the Devil keeps stirring up within the body.
Luther considered the “cross” – that is persecution, to be a “mark of the Church.” If Satan is not working night and day to destoy you, you have become uninteresting to him. Only one who is hopelessly lost has that kind of “luxury.” As long as the Bride of Christ endures in the fallen world (and our Lord promises that not even the gates of hell will prevail against her) the true Church will suffer the assaults of schism and heresy bubbling up from within.
This reality is of great comfort when we see encroachments of the secular world upon the Church. For if she were not the Church, Satan wouldn’t care to attack her.
No part, jurisdiction, denomination, or confession within the Church Catholic is exempt from such internal discord – though some feel the need to put forth the illusion that their particular denomination is free from such schisms and heresies.
Father Hollywood goes on to show in detail that the Devil really has a thing against Anglicans, also Lutherans, Roman Catholics, the Reformed, and even the seemingly homogenous Eastern Orthodox (among other traditions one could add). This means that each of these communions poses a particular threat to the Enemy and embodies in a particular way Christ’s church.
I would think, though, that Satan sometimes wins, with some church bodies ceasing to oppose what he puts forward, so that what was once of value in these traditions ceases. But I take his point, that the search for a perfect strife-free church–to the point of dividing into ever-smaller sects, then to a group of your closest friends meeting at home, then to just meeting with your family, then to being a church consisting of your own sweet self–is to pursue a theology of glory rather than a theology of the cross.
HT: William Weedon