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Like a diamond…


Ecclesiology is a messy business.  The idea of what it means when the Church is being the Church is a hotly debated topic among folks in the pew, pastors, and theologians of all sorts.  There are so many facets to being the Church and different people think that different facets are the most important.

For some, social justice is the most important thing the Church does, for others it’s proclamation, for others it’s evangelism, for some stewardship, and for others discipleship.  Depending on who you ask, you will hear a different facet being lifted up as being the single most important thing that the Church can do.

For example, a look at my facebook wall this week would show you the differences among well intentioned people of faith.  Mark Hansen, the presiding Bishop of the ELCA left a Global Mission event, in which he was scheduled to preach and preside, to fly to DC to meet with the President regarding the budget impasse.

For the sake of full disclosure, I am not a fan of Bishop Hansen.  That being said, I was opposed to the decision he made and said so on my facebook wall.  Many agreed and many disagreed.  Some said that it was good for the the Bishop to be “living the Gospel” instead of just “talking about the Gospel,” while others said that it was “bad stewardship of resources.” Others said, “Good for the Bishop to stand in the gap for others,”  while others said, “Great, our Bishop stops ministry for a photo – op moment.”

You see, that’s one of the problems when it comes to ecclesiology.  For different people it looks different.  Congregational autonomy VS Authority of the Magisterium, which part of the Alphabet Soup do you belong to, is it okay to remove the word Father from official documents, should communion be opened or closed, baptism of believers or infants – the list goes on and on and on.

This side of Christ’s return we will not see the perfect earthly manifestation of the Church.  The church will be wounded and broken, divided and sometimes bloodied.  However, that does not mean that we quit searching.  We follow the lead of the Disciples, of the Early Church Fathers and Mothers, of the Ecumenical Councils and work to bring the Gospel to those who have never heard, or those who have heard and turned away.

The trick is the Church must be multi-faceted – living out evangelism, stewardship, discipleship, worship, social justice  – elevating each of the facets that is the Church onto the cross of the crucified and living one, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Until then, friends are going to disagree, arguments are going to happen, and all of us will be… well, incomplete and wrong.



2 Comments leave one →
  1. 25July2011 17:25

    Well said, my friend. Being the church is such damn messy and chaotic business. We stumble along blindly doing the best we can. I am reminded of the lyrics from an Andrew Peterson song. “I know that falling down ain’t garceful, but I thank the Lord that falling’s full of grace.”

    KMS @ CCD

  2. 25July2011 22:23

    The Church, (especially mainline denominations) can only be all those things to all people if it continues to water down the gospel. Is that the way we are supposed to be inclusive?

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