Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Aidan Nichols, in his Holy Order, quotes a French New Testament scholar concerning what we might consider an intersection between the visible and the invisible action of Christ in his Church.

"To define apostolicity, we must not separate the proclamation of the Gospel from the foundation of a solidly structured Church. The foundation of local communities that are themselves the Church of God in a given place is just as much an apostolic task as is the preaching of the Gospel, and it gives an institutional face to the expansion of the faith."

Article VIII of the Confessions states:

"Both the Sacraments and Word are effectual by reason of the institution and commandment of Christ..."

This institution and commandment is deployed in unseen and seen, commingled ways. These activities - preaching the Gospel and administering the sacraments - are carried out in a visible context, the Church. Moreover, the mandate by which a minister of the Gospel does these things also effects the very context in which he does them, so much so that they are inseparable.

As far as modern concerns of "institutional growth" go, I've got scant love for the McChurch mentality. But seeing Christ's mandate as the context for an "institutional face" combats such "corporate" mentality far more effectively than reductionism and plain old contrariness.

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