Franciscan Father Dmitri Sala speaks at the Fire and Fusion Conference in Ottawa Aug. 6. Photo by Deborah Gyapong

If God’s house is divided, it’s headed for ruin

  • August 11, 2015

OTTAWA - To win the world for Jesus Christ, Christians must overcome divisions among themselves, Franciscan Father Dmitri Sala told the Fire and Fusion Conference here Aug. 6.

Despite the great things God is doing, the household of God is a “house divided,” weakening the power of the Church, said the author of The Stained Glass Curtain: Crossing the Evangelical-Catholic divide to find our common heritage.

“A house divided is not headed for revival, but headed for ruin.”

The Chicago-based priest told the conference it is time to “ratchet up” unity efforts among Christians.

“If Satan can keep us fighting one another, we won’t have the energy to fight him,” he said.

Sala was one of several speakers, both Catholic and Protestant, at the second Fire and Fusion Conference Aug. 6-8. The conference is inspired by an international movement with roots in the Second Vatican Council. It aims to seek unity through trusting in the power of the Holy Spirit and walking in love rather than through a focus on doctrinal discussions. Organizers are members of a movement in North America called United in Christ.

On salvation, evangelicals and Catholics believe the same things, Sala said. His book examines how the Protestant method of sharing the Gospel through the Four Spiritual Laws is consistent with Catholic teaching.

Sala explained how fellowship with black Pentecostal preachers led him to experience much healing as he witnessed the power of the Holy Spirit. When they would discover he was Catholic, however, they would advise him to leave the “Whore of Babylon” where people worship statues and Mary, he said. So Sala decided if he was going to leave the Church he needed to understand what it is he is leaving. His studies of Church documents and the catechism led him to write the book to share what he believes the Catholic Church actually teaches, beyond the false impressions.

Referring to a description of the early Church in Acts, Sala said the unity, love and lifestyle of Christians drew those in the surrounding culture to say, “I want that!”
“Christian unity breeds transformation,” he said. “Life not lingo; reality not rhetoric.”

Early Christian unity “commanded respect.” But today, with 33,000 denominations, Christianity has lost its credibility.

“What does the world outside see?” he asked. People see Christians “divided into camps” and Sunday “the most segregated day of the week.”

When they see Christians fighting with each other like a dysfunctional family, they will look elsewhere to find meaning.

He asked participants to imagine a holy, unified Church and urged Christians to avoid suspicion and prejudice. No true unity will be found without a cost, without Christians taking up their cross, he said.

International Catholic charismatic leader Matteo Calisi told the conference how he got involved in the movement through the influence of Cardinal Leon-Joseph Suenens, one of the moderators of the Second Vatican Council, and Pentecostal council observer David DuPlessis, who believed his mission was to bring the Baptism of the Holy Spirit to Catholics and mainline Protestants.

Calisi showed slides of Pope Francis’ involvement in the movement, including his introduction to it in Argentina when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires. Pope Francis often speaks of “unity in diversity,” Calisi said. Unity is not the fruit of our human effort but something the Father is preparing as a gift for His bride. The Church is entering a moment of reconciliation and restoration, he said. There will be a convergence in Jesus Christ before full, visible unity is attained.

Calisi predicted that one day all Christians, who are united already by their Baptism, will sit together sharing the same Eucharist.

Toronto’s Catch the Fire co-founder and senior pastor John Arnott, who was among evangelical leaders who shared a three-hour lunch with Pope Francis in 2014, gave two talks, focusing on the God the Father’s love and the need for inner healing and reconciliation with God, and with those who have hurt us.

Vineyard pastor and well-known contemporary worship songwriter and musician David Ruis led a group of Catholic and Protestant musicians for the evening sessions.

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