Monday, October 15, 2007

BEING CHURCH, PART ONE

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by Laura Springer, M.Div.

“I know it when I see it,” may be a fine initial answer to the question, “What is church?” Surely, there is more. In AD 325 and 381, in the midst of intense and important theological struggles, the early church fathers offered an answer in the Nicene Creed. Most every Christian tradition still holds this today: “I believe one, holy, catholic, apostolic church.” This month we will look at the first two concepts: one and holy.

One. A glance through the “church” page of the yellow pages may cause one to question church unity. Some attempt an external unity, for example, the World Council of Church, but is this what Jesus intends? In his huge systematic theology, Church Dogmatics, Karl Barth says that a unity based on external conformity or agreement is a false unity. True unity is only gained by a radical and intentional trust in the One Head, Jesus Christ. Unity is not gained by the removal of historical, cultural, or national differences or by forced doctrinal conformity; it is gained by relationship in and participation with the One Head. Each local gathering is responsible for confessing its disunity and for maintaining true unity.

Holy. When I look at myself with earthly eyes, I do not see a holy person. When I look at the church with earthly eyes, I do not see a holy church. Each of us alone and all of us together are filled (to a lesser or greater degree) with a mixture of worship and doubt. This is evident to earthly eyes. Yet, something else is evident to the eyes of trust. Hidden within the earthly/visible church (of which we, as a followers of Jesus Christ are necessarily members) is the holy, indestructible body of Christ. This is a matter of revelation and is seen and known only by trusting the Spirit.

Next month, we will look at the church as catholic (universal) and apostolic.


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COMING IN JANUARY

TFB Academy: What is Church
January 12, 2008
9 AM to Noon
2118 Carson Street
Torrance, CA 90501

For more information email tangentrider at gmail dot com