Of the many articles to appear in this column over the years, “Peripheral Christianity” was one of the best received. What it says about the Church is still very timely. It is here reprinted from the June 18, 1964, issue.
One of the gravest dangers to contemporary Protestantism is its obsession with the periphery of Christianity, to the neglect of the vital center of the Christian faith itself.
To the observer of modern church life, it becomes depressingly obvious after a while that much of the activity takes place around the rim of a wheel whose spokes are made up of innumerable councils, commissions, committees, conferences, assemblies, and organizations.
We would hardly imply that the rim is an unimportant part of the wheel, for it is at the rim that contact is made with the road and the wheel becomes effective. In like manner, the Church must make effective contact with the world if it is to be useful.
However, just as a wheel collapses unless its spokes are firmly centered in the hub, so too church activity cannot be effective unless it is firmly centered in the doctrinal content of Christian truth.
By some strange conspiracy of silence, “doctrine” is almost an ugly word in Protestant circles today. There seems to be a distaste for any reference to the revealed truths basic to the Christian faith. The facts of the person and work of our Lord are shunned. So long as an individual, a congregation, or a denomination is engaged in social engineering, the reason for the activity seems, to many, to be of little importance.
We hear a great deal about the “prophetic role of the Church.” This is good in so far as that role is concerned with individual and corporate sin and the message of the cleansing ...1
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