Charles Colson & Timothy George: Churchless Jesus
Thus in the New Testament, the universal church and the local church are distinguishable but never divorced. The two are not two species of the same genus but, rather, two predicates of the same subject. As Gregory the Great put it, "The holy church has two lives: one in time and the other in eternity." In both instances, it's the same church.
Of course, few churches live up to Christ's vision for his bride. Why should we expect otherwise? After all, we don't. Yes, the local church is usually buffeted by struggles, beset by detractors, peopled by sinners, and in countless other ways, just plain annoying. It's also the only church we have.
It is difficult not to suspect that at root, many liminals want the benefits of tradition and community without having to subordinate their desires to a larger whole.
That's a very American impulse but not a Christian one. Just ask Jefferson Bethke. After his video went viral, the talented young Bethke received a lot of criticism—and counsel—from other believers. Reflecting on his work, Bethke clarified his message. "Saying you love Jesus but hate the Church, is like a fiancé saying he loves his future bride, but hates her kids," he said.
We couldn't have said it better. We only wish it had been made clear from the start.
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Previous Contra Mundum columns include:
Evangelicals Should Be Uniters, Not Dividers | Why evangelicals need to redefine themselves and reform the whole church. (April 23, 2012)
Flaming Truth: Recalling Francis Schaeffer's Challenge | With laser-like precision, Schaeffer hit on the fundamental issue of our day. (February 15, 2012)
Education Is in Our DNA | We should support every effort to upgrade our failing schools. (December 13, 2011)
Real Happiness: Colson and George Bemoan Our National Virtue Deficit | Where a people abandons virtue, government steps in. (August 16, 2011)
- Catholics and Baptists Together
- The Man Who Birthed Evangelicalism
- Sacrilege Is Real
- Against the Stream
- Chuck Colson: Evangelicals Should Be Uniters, Not Dividers