Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Whole Person in a Broken World - the Task of the Church

Less and less people in the United States participate in a church on any given Sunday. For some who gave church a chance, the experiences were less than helpful. For others who never gave the church a chance, they had pretty good reasons. So does the Church have a chance at being useful in our society? Can the Church be a force for good...or just juicy headlines? What is the task of the Church in our culture - in our lives?

Dr. Paul Tournier wrote these words in 1964 - from Europe, amidst some dark and dismal days for the church. Yet - and we'll see what you think - his words ring with hope.

It is my conviction that the church's hour has come. The church, instituted by God, the servant of God, must again become his instrument to effect the synthesis for which all men of our time are consciously or unconsciously yearning. And here I mean the church in the broadest sense, not only the clergy, not only the established churches, but all those who have been gripped by Jesus.

...men of very different outlooks, doctors, lawyers, economists, scientists, writers, freethinkers, atheists, Jews, as well as Catholic and Protestant Christians are searching for something completely new. For something which is not simply a prolongation of the cultural development of the last several centuries, but which will rather interrupt the development. For something which is not so much on the order of scientific analysis but is more on the order of intuitive analysis; for something which no longer fragments man but rather restores his unity.
~ 147

I am convinced that we today, we Christians, must unite two things which are often opposed but which Christ joined together. On the one hand we must have a clear consciousness of our own unique vocation, our calling to make His voice heard, that voice which alone can provide a true answer to the questions of this tormented world.

But at the same time we must guard against making His divine person the subject of division between us and other men, against rejecting them under the pretext that they do not possess the truth which has been given to us. Without concealing anything of our faith, let us seek that which brings us closer to them, that common need for a spiritual renewal, even though they may put it in words different than ours.
~ 148

1 comment:

T. J. Knowlton said...

This is an excellent question. It is easy to be discouraged by this conversation, but then I turn my thoughts to St. Augustine and his account in "City of God". The church has to embrace a dynamic role in the world. It will exist independantly of our conformity, utility, and political structure. That is comforting to some extent in this day and age.

Dwight and I are going to participate in a project, which has been advanced by this discussion. Luis Palau Association has a 2010 start date for church volunteers invading their local communities in any needed capacity. It is extremely interesting. Fuller is pushing it in Phoenix. It started in Portland...exciting stuff. Take a look if you have time.