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Archive for the ‘Ecclesiology’ Category

“There was a time when the church was very powerful, in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days, the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society… Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an arch defender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent and often even vocal sanction of things as they are. But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust. Perhaps I have once again been too optimistic. Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world? Perhaps I must turn my faith to the inner spiritual church, the church within the church, as the true ecclesia and the hope of the world.” Martin Luther King, Jr. “Letter From A Birmingham Jail,” Requoted from Victor Cuccia, Steeple Envy: Losing My Religion and Rediscovering Jesus, 6.

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“From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (Ephesians 4:16)

We are all subjects and the individual whole in our own life. However, when a subject meets others, the subject as a whole becomes a part of them and then the parts together become the whole. There are subjects as a whole in a church. However, the subjects cannot hold themselves as a whole in the community. They consist of church as a whole by connecting each other as parts. Each part grows and builds church up in love. Each church as a whole becomes a part in meeting with neighbor churches. If we push this process forward endlessly, is it not possible to build such a church as the body of Christ?

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“A church of whatever size or structure… will openly acknowledge the legitimate presence of doubters and seekers, not just at the margins but at the center of its religious life. But at the same time, it will not shy away from affirming the reality and goodness of God, the holiness of God’s creation, or the hope of fulfillment for those whose lives are blighted by the ravages of nature or of other human beings. And it will continue to offer—as an object of belief for some, a hoped-for possibility for others—the bold but at the same time modest offer of a connection to the one who, it proclaims, made present among us the infinite grace and compassion of the ultimate reality itself.” (Philip Clayton and Steven Knapp, “The Predicament of Belief,” 154).

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