Thursday, August 25, 2005

Open-ended questions in preparation for a confession on the church

What is the church? What is it for? Does God need the church? Do we need the church? Does the church need God?

I could continue the questions, but these are sufficient to get the conversation started...

13 comments:

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  7. Clint, I've been a shadow reader for months and have forwarded your posts here and there. These questions have been weighing on me lately, especially in the context of the Intellegent Design debate, and the ubiquitous subway evangelizer.

    My twists on the this question are: Why is the story of creation so important theologically, that so many need for it be taught in schools?, and Why does Christianity, among others, rely on a mechanism of sacrefice? What is our obligation to God if there was no savior. I occassionally ask myself, who decided that Jesus had to die to save us? The answer of course is God the Father, but listening to evangelizers, I often imagine some other diety telling God the Father, "Look, if you want these humans to be pure, you'll have to have a son, who lives a perfect life on earth, who then needs to die the death of an innocent."

    Which reminds me of Jose Saramago's The Gospel According the Jesus Christ, which then poses the question: If Jesus was aware of the death and conflict to come, brought on by the evangelizing by his disciples, is he innocent of them?

    So thanks for opening the question, and allowing me to indulge on some variations. I promise, you don't have to buy anything from me.

    Cheers, Sam

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  8. Is this the same Sam Teigen that went to Luther College with me?

    You've raised a host of questions that radiate out from the open-ended ecclesiological questions I started with. I may take some time to address some of them in the future, but for now, a) thanks for reading my blog, and b) I'll try and post something about Intelligent Design next week.

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  9. Affirmative.

    Did you read the New Yorker article on Billy Graham and the Evangelicals? It had a nice overview on how Christianity responded to modernism in the past century.

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  10. Hey, nice blog you have here. I study literature myself, but I'd like to try theology some time. I found your blog through Gingworld.

    Well here are my answers, the really, really, really short version of them:

    1. The church is the community of every man, woman and child who share faith in the risen Christ

    2. It is for us, the believers

    3. God does not need the church, but He chose to work through it

    4. Yes we do

    5. Yes it most certainly does

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  11. I mean GinKworld of course :)

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  12. Mathias said: "3. God does not need the church, but He chose to work through it"

    Is God limiting our connection to God to the Church? If not (which I am inclined to believe), what does that have to say about the necessity of the church? It seems to imply that as God's creation, we can experience God in other settings... like nature, and without familiarity of the church, similarly observed phenomenons of God are given other names. So what is shared between the church and those outside of it, are an appreciation for forces greater than we can understand. Which then leads to a humility regarding our own power, and perhaps continues towards a sense of steward ship for our environment and fellow beings.

    In action we seem to arrive at the same place, though we differ on the stories of creation and afterlife. If the afterlife is dependent on grace, why should we trouble ourselves to think on it while 1) we have no control; and 2) there is much to do in the way of stewardship and charity.

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  13. God can be known as the God of history, the God of creation, etc. This is true. But outside of the church (not necessarily the institutional church, but the church as the people of God), there is inadequate preaching as to who God is. Who is God in the hurricane? Whoever God is in nature, it's my rather independent interpretation of what is happening that ends up being the definition of God.

    The church is "necessary" in the sense that it was established by Christ for the clear proclamation of the Gospel, the good news. Sure, the church is, as Augustine said, a "corpus mixtum." But so was Jesus' body, fully human and fully divine. So too "the holy catholic church" is the extension of Christ's body here and now on earth, fully human, and fully divine. You can't get that anywhere else, which is what the old adage extra ecclesiam nulla sanctus attempted to say (Cyprian said it, it needs considerable commentary to be understood correctly).

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