Wednesday, September 01, 2010

A coercive church

Tim Keel is currently Senior Fellow of Congregational Studies at Laidlaw College in NZ.  In a recent post on his blog, he discusses some thoughts by Lesslie Newbigin on plausibility structures.  However, the part of his post that appealed to me most (and to Paul Fromont who pointed me to it) is this:

Perhaps one of the reason so many are baffled by Newbigin's emphasis on ecclesiology (the church) is because too often the Church has either dwelled comfortably and accommodatingly in the reigning plausibility structure of the broader society, or it has sought to impose some or all of the contours of its own plausibility structure on others, absent the spirit that animates the gospel itself.
"Part of the reason for the rejection of dogma [or a Christian plausibility structure] is that it has for so long been entangled with coercion, with political power, and so with the denial of freedom - freedom of thought and conscience. When coercion of any kind is used in the interests of the Christian message, the message itself is corrupted. The truth is that it is the dogma [the content of belief] rightly understood, namely the free gift of God's grace in Jesus Christ, which alone can establish and sustain freedom of thought and of conscience. We must affirm the gospel as truth, universal truth, truth for all peoples and for all times, the truth which creates the possibility of freedom; but we negate the gospel if we deny the freedom in which alone it can be truly believed." (From The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, pg 10)  [The comments in square brackets and the italics are Keel's.]

No comments: