Going to Church


A quick quotation from Barth on the Church on a Sunday morning–just before I head off to Church…

Put pointedly and to be taken cum grano salis [= “with a grain of salt”] there exist over against Jesus Christ, not in the first instance believers, and then, composed of them, the Church; but first of all the Church and then, through it and in it, believers. While God is as little bound to the Church as to the Synagogue, the recipients of His revelation are. They are what they are because the Church is what it is, and because they are in the Church, not apart from the Church and not outside the Church. And when we say “Church”, we do not mean merely the inward and invisible coherence of those whom God in Christ calls His own, but also the outward and visible coherence of those who have heard in time, and have confessed to their hearing, that in Christ they are God’s. The reception of revelation occurs within, not without, this twofold coherence. (Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, I/2, 211.)

My own comment, also to be taken with a grain of salt, is that despite the theological reservation we now have about saying that “we are going to Church today,” there is a sense in which this is nevertheless true. Individual believers, while members comprising the Church of Christ, can still think about “going to church” if it means that such going is an active recognition that “it isn’t all about me.” Going to church can remind us that God’s work is bigger than the work that has consumed me the rest of the week.

3 thoughts on “Going to Church

  1. What do we call it when we are going to sit through a whole lot of gnosticism, fideism, escapism, individualism, and consumerism (to name only the things I could attach “isms” to)? Sorry to sound cynical. I love the church and am grateful to be found in it, but today it was very very hard to be in church.

  2. I’m often reminded of Darrell Guder’s very appropriately titled book, The Continuing Conversion of the Church. Conversion is not only for those outside the Church, but for those inside as well. As The Gospel needs to be heard outside the walls, so, too, it needs to be heard again and again inside.

    What do I call it, Jon? I call it a miracle of God’s grace that he entrusted the message of his gospel to a people laden down with gnostic, escapist, consumerist, individualist, perfectionist, etc. tendencies. That may not make it any easier when we see the problems (and don’t think I am downplaying the problems), but it sets us off on the right foot, I hope, when asking what it is that we need to begin to overcome those problems. What do we need? We need to hear the Gospel of Jesus–yet again.

  3. Yeah. That’s really helpful. Hard to find a voice in that conversation in a new church. But it is still a grace to be there, to be in process of conversion along with all. Thanks.

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