Archive for June 21st, 2018

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“The moment a group of Christians comes together, a synod is called or an assembly meets, they feel compelled to draw up a “political statement”.  It might be a petition to the government, or an appeal to the people, or a pastoral letter.  Over the past fifteen years these “statements” have been counted by the hundreds.  They repeat themselves endlessly!  Everyone knows full well that these statements are of no practical use.  They are not a way of influencing the government or public opinion.  Neither are they a Christian witness…

So today, it is far more important that the Church recover her sense of identity as the body of Christ, and that she draw the necessary conclusions from that fact, than that she should issue statements without weight or significance, statements which are in no sense a presence of the Kingdom, but which, more often than not, are a way of easing the collective conscience about events for which one feels responsible without being able to do anything about them…This need for statements is connected with another sign of making the Church political, namely the passion for latest thing…This passion which, in Christians as in others, come from an addiction to the press, television and radio, produces, alas, the same effects in them as in everyone else—political illusion.” (emphasis original)

(False Presence of the Kingdom, published 1963, Chapter 2, “Making the Church Worldly”, pages 47-48;  Jacques Ellul, French sociologist and he was a member of the Reformed Church in France )

Please note:  False Presence of the Kingdom was written in 1963.  Church bodies have been cranking out political statements since then and for a generation or more! I think the quote attributed to Albert Einstein is apropos: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” I think politics have only become worse with the incursion of well-meaning church pronouncements.  The result are churches that are more political, even political alone and politics have become religious. The result  is zeal grounded not in the truth, but in unredeemed desire and lust.

Christians know more about Robert’s Rules of Order than we do the Lord’s rule, say, the 10 Commandments.  I think Mr. Ellul is right that these statements do nothing and I would add, the world loves them. Why? Christians present their political opinions, which are most times in sync with the world and then the world does not have to hear, as we all do, the Word which condemns us (the Law) and the Word which saves us (the Gospel).   

How do we get off this treadmill going nowhere?  Again, Mr. Ellul:  Christians should stop our “addiction” to the media, the latest thing.  Christ’s Church is a lot older than the the latest thing! Since ’63 we have added internet, social networking and e-mail.  Churches trying to be ‘relevant’ have only become irrelevant. This non-stop thread of politics, and religion (and notice they go together but the real religion not necessarily so!) has been even a greater addiction and a long one. This is not only as Mr. Ellul wrote, a “political illusion” but an illusion which is  a delusion that we are doing something. The salt has lost it’s saltiness. 

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