Thursday, May 08, 2008

Miroslav Volf and The Church's great malfunction...

...we can begin to think of faith neither as simply a system of propositions to be believed, nor as merely a set of energizing and healing techniques to be practiced, but as an integral way of life...

Miroslav Volf in an article (The Church's great malfunction) has some interesting insights that I am still digesting. He starts from a premise of New Creation,
There is a remarkable image in the closing pages of Scripture that has become a touchstone for the way my colleagues and I think about faith and culture. Amid its descriptions of the New Jerusalem, Revelation includes "the tree of life, bearing 12 crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations" (Rev. 22:2).
The tree holds out hope that whole cultures will be healed and mended, becoming

places where people can flourish. And it sets an agenda for faith as a way of life that contributes to that flourishing, in anticipation, here and now.

and talks through giving detail and reason for the malfunctions of the church including temptation; the power of systems and what he calls a misconstrued faith. Volf points out that when
Karl Marx famously noted that religion—Christian faith, he primarily meant—is the "opiate of the people," a "downer" or depressant insulating them from reality and consoling them with a dream world of heavenly bliss. Marx missed the point that religion can often be an "upper," a stimulant that energizes people for tasks at hand. But the truth is that when Christian faith functions only as a soothing or performance-enhancing drug, that faith is, in fact, malfunctioning.
He concludes that from a place of rigorous self-criticism, we can move beyond that of malfunction and discover "a deep sense of the beauty and goodness of our faith."
Then we can begin to think of faith neither as simply a system of propositions to be believed, nor as merely a set of energizing and healing techniques to be practiced, but as an integral way of life. ... The Christian pursuit of the common good must be church-based without being church-centered. We need to build and strengthen mature communities of vision and character who celebrate faith as a way of life as they gather before God for worship and who, sent by God, live it out as they scatter to pursue various tasks in the world.
Interesting stuff!! Challenging stuff - do we celebrate faith as a way of life or are we part of teh Church's great malfunction?

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Thanks to Jason for pointing out the article.

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