Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Local Church is the Hope of the World

Among evangelicals, Bill Hybels is known for the title of this post. But others say the same thing. Jesus and Paul certainly emphasized it a few years before him.

In this article, Stanley Hauerwas wants to point out that Rowan Williams does too. Quotable:

"The entire Church is present in every local church assembled around the Lord's Table. Yet the local church alone is never the entire Church. We are called to see this not as a circle to be squared but as an invitation to be more and more lovingly engaged with one another."

...which is part of why some of us in the Church of the Nazarene desire to see the Covenant of Christian Conduct eliminated. (This is our specific list of "do nots"). But I believe that the local church not only should, but must work out what it means to be the Body of Christ in its context. 

Many are quick to point out how abusive, divisive, and whorish the local church has been and can be.

Hauerwas responds:
"I am all too well aware of the perversities of the so-called 'local church.' But you do not avoid the perversities of place by escaping to some alleged universal. You can only avoid the perversities of place by being the church of Jesus Christ..."

Bill Hybels would be proud.

Spoon-fed praxis from powers-that-be, even "democratically-elected" bodies such as General Assemblies, General Conferences, and other denominationally-led bodies, are not easily conducive to true gospel living on the dirt road, despite being cloaked "in the name of unity."

It might be notable that Paul has a letter to the Ephesians, and letters to the Corinthians, and a letter to the Philippians. And each letter focuses on different things resulting from the one Christ, each according to their context. Paul might have wrote one letter and sent it to the known Christian world. But that's not what we have. We have different letters to different churches. 

Are we trying too hard to force unity? Are we focusing too hard on "unity in essentials" and not enough on "in all things charity"?

No comments:

Post a Comment