Faithful Presence: Hunter, Fitch and Being Church

In his significant, ironically entitled work, To Change the World, James Davison Hunter offers the following diagnosis of the current cultural moment in which the church finds itself in the United States:

“The problem for Christians—to restate the broader issue once more—is not that their faith is weak or inadequate.  In contemporary America, Christians have faith in God and, by and large, they believe and hold fast to the central truths of the Christian tradition.  But while they have faith, they have also been formed by the larger post-Christian culture, a culture whose habits of life less and less resemble anything like the vision of human flourishing provided by the life of Christ and witness of scripture.  The problem, in other words, is that Christians have not been formed ‘in all wisdom’ that they might rise to the demands of faithfulness in such a time as ours, ‘bearing fruit in every good work.’”1 Continue reading Faithful Presence: Hunter, Fitch and Being Church

  1. James Davison Hunter, To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, & Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 227.

James Davison Hunter on “the Central Ministry of the Church”

“Beyond the worship of God and the proclamation of his word, the central ministry of the church is one of formation; of making disciples.  Making disciples, however, is not just one more program—it is not Sunday School, a Wednesday night prayer meeting, or a new book one must read.  Formation is about learning to live the alternative reality of the kingdom of God within the present world order faithfully.  Formation, then, is fundamentally about changing lives. Continue reading James Davison Hunter on “the Central Ministry of the Church”

Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi and Divine Impassibility

Lex orandi, lex credendi” is a Latin theological expression which basically means “the rule of prayer is the rule of belief.”  In more colloquial terms, we might say, “You show me how you worship and I’ll tell you what you believe.”  The rule of prayer has shaped the development of the Christian theological tradition through its existence.  A particularly prominent example is found in the fourth century in Athanasius’s appeal to the worship practices of the Christian community as part of his refutation of the Arian heresy.  Essentially, the Arians were maintaining that the Son was a highly exalted creature, but certainly not God.  One strand of Athanasius’s argument against the Arians consisted of drawing attention to the fact that the Christian community had worshipped Jesus from its earliest days.  If Jesus was only a creature then for the first three centuries of its existence the church was nothing more than a collection of idolaters!  Lex orandi, lex credendi. Continue reading Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi and Divine Impassibility

The Truth Will Set You Free

As the dust settles following last Monday’s initial United States Presidential debate, I took the opportunity yesterday to preach on the question of “What does it mean to tell the truth?”  I suggested that for Christians telling the truth is inseparable from becoming truthful people, as we find ourselves caught up by the Spirit in the life of Jesus, who is the Truth.  For this reason, the Christian tradition has held a special place for the martyrs.  The martyrs are those who have borne witness to the truth at the cost of their lives.  Although I didn’t explicitly make the connection, a member of the congregation observed that the sermon implicitly contrasted the richness of the faithful witness of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Maximilian Kolbe with the poverty of the two presidential candidates. Continue reading The Truth Will Set You Free