Thursday, October 06, 2005

[205.1] SEEKING A CHURCH-TURNED-OUTWARDS

Ah, the delightful ambiguity of the sign.... Anyway, Maggi Dawn commented yesterday: "One of the characteristics of the 'Emerging' mindset is to think of church travelling outwards, rather than expecting people to 'come to us'. I like this idea best when it's accompanied with a Bonhoeffer understanding of the world - not that we 'take God out' to the world, but that we engage with God 'out there' instead of having a retreat mentality."

It's also important to be reminded (as the reference to a mid-twentieth century pastor and theologian tells us) that creative thinking about the church and the vocation it seeks to embody does not automatically derive from, or depend upon, new thinking. There is much that is new and reactionary (by which I mean fearful and defensive) around at the moment, both in the Christian community and elsewhere. By the same token, it is salutary to discover just how long our in vogue diagnoses have actually been around:

"We as individuals, as a congregation of Christian people, and as members together of the Christian church, can neither enjoy faith in God nor be a means of the kindling of faith in others unless we are ready to receive the grace to live faith as an experiment and an experience. Nothing can establish God. We can hope only to be established by God and in God. We are not in a post-Christian era but we are in a post-Christendom era. Civilization and culture do not take God or Christianity for granted. This puts us back into the situation of the people of God for most of their history, certainly into the position of the New Testament church and of the church of the first creative centuries. The world does not help us to believe in God nor do we strengthen our faith through conformity... This does not mean, however, that we are to withdraw into the church and seek somehow to cultivate our faith with our backs to the world. Such church-centredness can only be the death of faith. God is to be found in what [God] makes of the world and of God's people for the world. It is abundantly clear from the Bible that God's people always lost their living faith in the living God when they supposed that they themselves were the focus both of God's activity and of God's reality."
(From David E. Jenkins, on 'Christian Faith in God', written in 1968 - from the collection Still Living With Questions, SCM Press [My emphases].)

That just about sums it up. To be grasped by who and what God might be (beyond our manipulations of 'god') is not a license for retreat, fantasy or the abrogation of reason; rather it is to exercise a traditioned trust which makes adventure, questioning and exploration essential. And it is made possible only by a church-turned-outwards.

Comment on this post: FaithInSociety

3 comments:

Askinstoo said...

Nice Blog!!!   I thought I'd tell you about a site that will let give you places where
you can make extra cash! I made over $800 last month. Not bad for not doing much. Just put in your
zip code and up will pop up a list of places that are available. I live in a small area and found quite
a few. MAKE MONEY NOW

doer said...

Hello, just visited your bible blog, I also have a bible related website, it's about some books which is helpful to understand the God's Words

Chris said...

Hey, You've got a very nice Blog!

Very informative. Be sure to check out my blog on the Make Partition History Campaign.

See you soon :o)