Blast from the Past

I thought this might be an interesting thing to do now and then – under this topic heading, I will pull a book off my shelf and find a quote therein to share here.

Today I pulled Stanley Hauerwas‘s In Good Company: The Church as Polis (1995) down and found this on page 58:

We decisively reject that presumption [that theology can be divorced from the practices of the church], believing as we do that theology cannot escape into “thought” but remains rooted in the practices that constitute the church as a community across time.

What a wonderful statement leading the chruch into postmodernity!

Modernity was that which (presumed it) could separate thought from practice.  The church bought into this hook, line, and sinker.

I remember a Covenant Discipleship group I was in when I was not long out of seminary.  My then-DS, now Bishop  Ann Sherer assembled a group that, we soon learned through conversation, had two representatives from each of 3 different seminaries (not counting our DS).

Upon discussing our experiences at these 3 seminaries (all of which were complete 2 decades ago, so there is no sense identifying them here), I was interested to find that the majority of the faculty at the other 2 seminaries had little or no ministry experience.  On the other hand, most of my seminary courses were taught by professors who not only had minsitry experience, but many of them were currently servnig in some sort of active minsitry in addition to their faculty positions.

This is one illustration of theology divorced from church practice. Another is far more common.  Someone, likely a member of a church, can explain some fairly complex theological understanding, whether of the Trinity or the atonement (or, more likely, eschatology), but this understanding has and shows no clear relevance to anything about this person’s lifestyle or practices.

Practices aren’t about a community service project here or there, either, practices are things we do in the direction of affecting change in how we actually live our lives.  The church practices to which Hauerwas called us in 1995 are those which have us learned (by practice) to live lives that begin to look like the Kingdom of God which Jesus announced as  “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.” TNIV (Mark 9:1)

The Kingdom of God is in your midst (Luke 17:20-21).  Let us live like it; not merely theologize (or worse, debate) about what this means, but let us take up the rpactices that Jesus and his disciples lived by and begin to show those around us that the Kingdom of God is indeed in their midst.

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