The Starving Body of Christ
In recent years, believers from all segments of the Christian community have begun to recover the social dimensions of the gospel. In the Catholic church, the legendary luminaries have been Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa. In the Orthodox tradition, Archbishop Anastasios Yannoulatos is helping to rebuild Albania after years of domination by the world's most oppressive communist regime. Evangelical endeavors have included Ronald Sider's book Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger and Rick Warren's "Five Year P.E.A.C.E. Plan"—a massive effort to mobilize one billion Christians to rid the world of poverty, illiteracy, and other social ills. These trends will surely grow in the years to come. But unless we are guided by others wiser than ourselves, we may build our ministries on sinking sand.
In the history of Christianity, John Chrysostom is mostly remembered as a great preacher. The epithet "Chrysostom" means "golden-mouthed." His name came to be identified with the liturgy that is now celebrated nearly every Sunday in the Eastern Orthodox Church. The greatest medieval Catholic theologian, Thomas Aquinas, said that if he could choose only one book to read outside of Scripture it would be John Chrysostom's commentary on the Gospel of Matthew. The Protestant reformer John Calvin adopted Chrysostom's method of preaching through the Bible book by book—a method still widely used in pulpits today.
Even outside the Christian world, John's influence has been great. After World War II, Charles Malik, a Lebanese Christian philosopher and board member of Harvard university, proposed that the social teachings of John Chrysostom be adopted as policy for the founding charter of the united Nations.
John's world was like ours—full of tensions, ...