Popular author T. Davis Bunn has a unique way of weaving historical facts into his fictional novels. In one scene from his book, The Amber Room, Herr Diehl is giving a tour of Erfurt, Germany. From the town marketplace they climb a broad staircase that is nearly three hundred feet high. At the top are two very large old cathedrals.
“The first is the one on the left,” Herr Diehl told them as they climbed. “It was erected in 1154 as a monastery and remained true to the faith, so the story goes, through kingdoms and centuries. During the Reformation, the monks ridiculed the Pope’s political ambitions and refused to back his demands for a war against their Protestant brethren. In reply, the Pope commanded that a second church be built, close enough and big enough to dominate the original.”
One church alone would have been majestic. The two together looked ridiculous. Both were vast structures whose spires reached heavenward several hundred feet. Vast swatches of stained-glass windows arched between flanking buttresses of stone and dark-stained mortar. Nearby four-story buildings were easily dwarfed by the twin churches.
“And so stands a warning to the church of today,” Herr Diehl said. “A witness to what can happen when doctrine becomes more important than the straightforward laws of love given us by a simple Carpenter. Whenever one of us opens our mouth to condemn the way another worships, we set another brick in the wall of such a monstrosity. We offer our beloved Savior up to the nonbelievers as a point of ridicule. If we as the saved cannot agree to disagree in peace and love and brotherhood, what do we show the nonbelievers but the same discord and disharmony from which they seek to escape?” [T. Davis Bunn, The Amber Room, Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers, 1992.]
What a great illustration and a great question. I’d love to hear what you think.