Wednesday, December 07, 2011
Where Do We Stand?
For the Christian faith is unashamedly world-affirming, and has a peerless record in contributing to education, to philanthropy, to social reforms, to medicine, to the rise of science, to the emergence of democracy and human rights, as well as to building schools, hospitals, universities, orphanages, and other beneficial institutions.They are right about the tension they describe here, and they are right about this:
Yet at the same time, the Christian faith is also world-denying, insisting on the place of prophets as well as priests, on sacrifice as well fulfillment, on the importance of fasts as well as feasts, and on the place for exposing and opposing the world when its attitudes and actions are against the commands of God and the interests of humanity.
Not surprisingly, the church’s constant temptation has been to relax this tension from one side or the other, so that the Christians in different ages have sometimes been so much in the world that they are of it, or so much not of the world that they were “no earthly use.” Either way, such unfaithfulness means that the church grows weak, but unfaithfulness in the direction of worldliness is worse than weak, for it puts the church, like Israel in the Old Testament, under the shadow of the judgment of God.But here is what I wonder. For every "too worldly" church there seems to be a monastery or convent. In other words, maybe God is resolving the tension even if we, in our individual or congregational settings, are not.
It is possible to be worldly to the point of sin and that is a problem, but just being more worldly than someone else thinks is the right point in the tension may just be how God has created you, in order to balance the tension of the other that would withdraw so.
My point is we need to be very careful in making judgements about the other in a tension like this. We do not have a "God's eye view" on things. Too often the Baptists go off and declare the Catholics heretics or vice versa. I wonder if they are not counterbalancing weights in some spiritual tension like this one.
MAybe something to think about the next time you look at something that seems "wrong" to you.