Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Words from Richard John Neuhaus

I just want to share with you some things I've been learning about the Church.  No real original ideas here, but I hope you find them helpful.  The quotations are taken from Richard John Neuhaus's Freedom for Ministry. I've strung together several unattached sentences throughout the first chapter of his book, but omitted ellipses in order to make it flow better here.  I'm currently rereading this book in preparation for the course I'm teaching this semester for the School of Ministry.  After the quotations, you'll find a video that I find encouraging.  It shows what Christ is doing through His Church.

"...Our understanding of the Church and ministry, indeed our understanding of all reality, is based upon the truth of God revealed in Jesus Christ" (19).

"The Church in all its forms and manifestations is profoundly inauthentic; it is made authentic only by the judgment of a gracious God. And each person within this community is a center of mystery deserving of our respect-no, of our reverence. Institution is simply another word for social endurance. Even the most spontaneous and prophetic of movements cannot last unless they find institutional form. But the church we speak of theologically is not another church; it is this Church -- in all its sweaty, smelly concreteness...This is the Church, and within its amazing and maddening diversity pastors and priests find their ministry. ...Knowing that the 'now' of the Church, as of the world, is to be fulfilled in the 'not yet' of the coming Kingdom. As tumultuous as the transition is, however, it is still transition; that is, what will be will be what is - only what is will be fulfilled, transformed, consummated. The Bride of Christ mentioned in Revelation 21 will be something quite new to our eyes, but she will be no stranger, for we will recognize her as the whore of Christendom transformed. It is only by trusting that promise that we dare now to call the whore of Christendom the Bride of Christ.The promise of the consummation has already been actualized by love in the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. To love the Church, then, is to help it become what it is. When St. Paul speaks of a Church without spot or wrinkle, therefore, he is not speaking of a different Church than the one with which we are so restlessly dissatisfied. No, he is speaking of this Church becoming what in reality it is. That will be done in due time. For now, and until he comes in glory, our task is to love. And to love means to assist in the actualizing of possibilities perceived by faith."

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