Life support of the absurd: Must the church die?


Consider what eschatology and apocalyptic means for the church and what should be considered to be a time of necessary church reformation and renewal. Christendom is decaying and must be allowed to die. However slowly its demise may be, in light of what we know of God’s activity in the past and of what is continuously revealed in light of the cross of Christ, we can only understand the end of the church as we know it with the assurance that the church will indeed continue on. This renewal must occur in a manner that subverts not only old understandings of the role the church is to play in a liberal democracy and a postmodern world, but all of our understandings of what and who the church is, and how worship should reflect the historically subversive work of the Spirit. For decades, the church has rejected its identity as an apocalyptic witness to the world, instead choosing to maintain a comfortable order of progress and power.

Remember, the manner in which we are to be the church in this age of renewal and reformation will seem absurd to all who cannot place faith in the resurrection story. The gospel moral vision of non-violence, egalitarian community order, and the subversion of the authority of empire and political entities can only be made credible when the church, or particular actors within the church community, live out an ethic that makes such moral claims credible.

It is difficult to claim faith in Jesus as Prince of Peace when one relies on the military to stabilize access to resources and world markets. The church is called to respond to such corporate secular assumptions of truth, which is in fact latent corporate sin. The subversion of such insidious sin demands that normative considerations of social order and concerns for a universal good be re-identified as sin disguised in attractive yet necessary compromises that in fact reject the desire of God for the church. To make such a theological maneuver, and to state spiritually that those things which have been readily consumed by the culture as “the common good” are instead a rejection of the gospel order, progressives especially must learn to feel comfortable speaking enthusiastically in christocentric terms. Particularly Christian claims must be at the center of what is to be revealed by the church as an answer to the question of redeeming a broken world if we are to answer as a church, and not as constituents of a more widely palatable universalism.

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