Friday, September 06, 2013
What Makes A Church?
I posted this on my Tumblr, then decided it would be worth mentioning here, too. Luther’s seven marks of the church:
- The public preaching of the word of God, rightly distinguishing law and gospel.
- The sacrament of baptism.
- The sacrament of the altar.
- The office of the keys, publicly exercised.
- The ordination or calling of ministers.
- Prayer, public praise, and thanksgiving to God.
- The possession of the holy cross in the suffering of the saints.
ISTM that one root cause of the “evangelical circus” is the rejection of the seventh mark and its replacement with the direct opposite: the saints’ well-being and the absence of the cross as marks of God’s work. In fairness, though, most of them have got mark #6 pretty much locked down…
I think more than just the seventh mark is rejected. I would also contend that the sacraments, while practiced are effectively "desacramentalized." Kind of like the mainlines still practice a form of confession, but it is not held as sacrament. Baptism and the Eucharist have become so trivialized in their practice as to be robbed of meaning.
Likewise, in many churches, the bar for ordination is so low that it too is robbed of meaning.
I don't think the problem is that we are not doing the things of church - it is HOW we do them. They have become, for lack of a better word "profane." We have made the sacred and heavenly somehow earthly. Of course, these could be viewed as consequences of what John H contends....
church profane sacred