Wednesday, June 24, 2009

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

What accounts for the great ineffectiveness of so many churches and Christians? How can there be so much church-stuff and Christian-stuff, so many signs and sounds, and yet it seems that the world pays so little attention? How is it that the church and Christians so greatly misunderstand or misjudge the world?

Again, Dr. Paul Tournier has some interesting insights...well, at least I think so.

Have we not seen that the modern world is acting like a neurotic? Dr. Jung does not claim to be a Christian. But he sees, far better than many Christians, the true meaning of the anxiety of our time. I am always amazed to hear so many ministers complain of the religious indifference of our contemporaries. "How do you manage," they ask me, "to get those with whom you talk to interest themselves in religious problems?"

I have no answer to that question. I do not need to stir up any religious disquietude in my patients. I know that they are full of it already and far more consciously than they admit. If we look upon them as being indifferent, we are not establishing between them and us the climate in which they will disclose their real torment. Let us be the first to discern what modern man is seeking.

He is thirsting for God. "The aggrandized body is waiting for a supplementation of the soul...and mechanicalism requires a mysticism." The question is whether the religion which is now to be given to men is the true one. Otherwise they will go on inventing new religions which will inevitably break down one after another.

Everybody today is searching for an answer to those problems to which science pays no attention: the problem of their destiny, the mystery of evil, the question of death. I an not saying that the church of today is not answering these questions. The trouble is that the answers are being given in terms which our contemporaries no longer understand.

These people use a completely different language to express their personal and social difficulties, a concrete, direct kind of language which the church must adopt if it is to make itself understood. As the world was despiritualizing itself the church has been disincarnating, disembodying itself. Hence there is a tremendous misunderstanding, which undoubtedly is just as much the fault of the church as of the world. "The number of not find the answer in religion, who are searching in despair, is considerable...We cannot say that the church has dealt brilliantly with the problems which arose from the industrial revolution."

To be sure, if the world does not listen to the church, this is often because it does not want to listen to God, against whom it has rebelled. And yet the church justifies itself all too easily if it thinks that the fault lies only in the world and not in itself.
~ Paul Tournier, The Whole Person in a Broken World, pgs 148/149

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