Posted by: jamesthethickheaded | September 29, 2008

The Living God: On The Church

All of us have friends who wonder why we go to Church, why it isn’t enough simply to believe,  and sometimes these folks may even look back at us in the mirror.  For it seems to be natural that if we believe … and that’s enough, then it naturally follows that going to church, any church, becomes a choice, and a choice of who has the best coffee, hymns and fewest demands seems to make sense. The Comfortable Christ becomes a consumer good like any other, and why shouldn’t we seekers seek out a Walmart discount, or carefully read the Service Reports in the appended “User Surveys” to Consumer Report’s Annual April “Getting God” issue. I mean, taken to its extremes as is everything today (Xtreme Xrist!) the notion of Sola Scriptura or Sola Fide or Sola Whatever simply doesn’t require a Church. So the response outlined in the The Living God (Volume 2) that begins a rather lengthy discourse on the Church seems worth a thought of recollection… because I keep forgetting it, and keep looking it up again… and so mark it down here like a Post-it note:

Seeker: I believe in God, I believe in Jesus Christ, but I don’t believe in the Church.

Sage: Then you’re confining God to heaven. The Christian God is a God made man, God among us, God hidden among men so that He may heal them. He is a God who acts and makes Himself known through those whom He came to save, those who never cease making a caricature of Him. His Word is heard among men and it is through them that He manifests His love. His is a God born in the stable at Bethlehem, a God crucified between two criminals, “numbered with the transgressors” (Is 53:12). If you cannot recognize the Holy One hidden among the sinners of His Church and in the shame of His Passion, you will not be able to recognize Him at His glorious Second Coming.

When we say in the Creed, “I believe in one, holy and apostolic Church,” we do not mean that we believe in what we see. What a non-believing sociologist or historian can describe after studying the Church is not the object of our faith. We don’t need faith to ascertain what we see. “Have you believed because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe” (Jn 20:29). A stereotyped image of the Church at a certain place or time does not reflect its true essence and does not help us to define it.

The true object of our faith, what we really believe in, is God’s word or promise. The Church is defined by the creative Word of it’s Lord, Christ, and the sanctifying power of the Spirit who brings this Word into existence. That is why the Church is holy in spite of the sins of its members.”

There’s more here and there, but it’ll have to keep for now.

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