Thursday, October 13, 2005

Readings in Ecclesiology

I know...isn't great that now Im back at University I call it Ecclesiology instead of "I was reading stuff about Church today" Well thats maybe countered by the fact Im listening to Snoop Dogg as I read Radical 80's Ecclesiology in the form of "Resident Aliens" by Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon. I can't quite blanket the book as being right on or not just now, partially because Im only in the second chapter, but also because Im emmersed in it right now and I think even if books aren't "right on" then if it inspires and cultivates a thinking process about what is "right on" or even if that can be found, then its maybe a good book. Anyway Im more and more being challenged on my strong leanings toward activist, socially left of centre church set ups, through books and lectures, but still not wanting to peaceably returning home to my original perception of church as a ghetto community free from being involved in "worldly matters". In passing, both of these concepts are entirely self arrived, and in no way are reflections on my involvement/experience in the Churches I have been a part of, just merely false destinations in my own journey of working out of my own methodology and theology. So here is a passage from the book that offers not a helpful medium, or a balance of polarities as many books might but a "radical alternative" pg45. nb:The book uses the term "conversionist Church" to describe what I refered to as a "ghetto community" in the last paragraph. The "radical alternative" the book purports is called the "confessing church". "The confessing Church, like the conversionist Church, also calls people to conversion, but it depicts that conversion as a long process of being baptismally engrafted into a new people, an alternative polis, a countercultural social structure called Church. It seeks to influence the world by being the church , that is, by being something the world is not and can never be, lacking the gift and vision, which is ours in Christ. The confessing church seeks the visible church, a place, clearly visible to the world, in which people are faithful to their promises, love their enemies, tell the truth, honour the poor, suffer for righteousness, and thereby testify to the amazing community creating power of God. The Confessing Church has no interest in withdrawing from the world, but it is not surprised when its witness evokes hostility from the world. The Confessing Church moves from the activist church's acceptance of the culture with a few qualifications, to rejection of the culture with a few exceptions. This is encouraging me to find that tension, that balance or maybe even that radical alternative, to a Church concept that enables Church to be the force for the upholding of justice without the loss of spirituality that many churches fall into. What it seems to me that Hauerwas and Willimon argue is that for the Church to be the most effective purveyor of Justice and Social Change it must be centred on its identity as God's people, centred around Jesus and all the implications of his messianic eschatology (redemptive return...that word was just for Johnny!). Go comment people...


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