Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Suburban Captivity of the Churches - 2

This preoccupation with [the role of churches in the renewal of the metropolis] arises... because of the seeming helplessness before the forces of metropolitan blight.

The churches are essential at this juncture in metropolitan development, for they can best represent the interests of the whole in the midst of conflicting economic interests, and can speak out most strongly for life and human values. The churches will fail to bring about a renewal of the metropolis, however, unless they first put their own house in order.

We have been concerned with the renewal of human life in the metropolis - the struggle of the immigrants and newcomers, the alienation of the Negro population, and the frantic search for traditions and security among the middle classes. Such concerns may seem nonreligious or irrelevant to the main stream of American Protestantism, which holds the object of religious concern to the individual piety and spirituality. This religious tradition assumes that preaching the Gospel leads directly to the reconciliation of society; the Church's work, therefore, is to spread the Gospel and let social problems take care of themselves.

The only answer to this pietistic tradition is that the Gospel embraces the whole of human life and society. Man's life in society is an interdependent web. Personal immorality is no more nor less accessible to spiritual renewal than racial discrimination in housing.

A narrow spirituality refuses to recognize the interdependence and wholeness of life; its concern rejects involvement, and its preoccupation with individual piety derives from the false assumption that the individual soul is more open to change than the social institutions.

~ The Suburban Captivity of the Churches, Gibson Winter, 1962, Chapter 7 "The Renewal of the Metropolis", pgs 192-193

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