Yesterday, I asked you to join the Church if you, like me, are frustrated with the Church. The strongest critiques of religion come from within, not without, the Christian community. Plus, your frustrations are likely shared by many others within the Church!
However, it’s not enough to point the finger at others from your pew, instead of doing so from the public square. Yes, that’s a good first step, but another one is necessary.
You – and I – need to be willing to take ownership for the Church’s failures.
Now, (1) does this mean that we’re to always play the scapegoat, even when the problems aren’t directly our fault? (2) Wouldn’t this open us up to the risk of ignoring the persecution of others by corrupt and power-hungry leaders within the Church?
(1) No, because (2) yes, it potentially could.
What I’m getting at, however, is that we must always be willing to admit that the Church’s biggest flaws find their roots in the fact that every single churchman and churchwoman is a sinner.
And let’s not kid ourselves – we’re sinners not in the vague, abstract sense of having broken an esoteric list of rules. We are concrete sinners, each corrupt, selfish, and violent.
The moment we attempt to distance ourselves from “those sinners over there,” we open ourselves to the risk of committing the very worst sins against others – within and without the Church.
Only when we Christians begin to take ownership for the failings of the Church (of which we are a part) can the Church adopt its most successful posture: repentance.
“Were the Church to appear before men as a Church under judgement; did it know of no other justification save that which is in judgement; did it believe in the stone of stumbling and rock of offence, instead of being offended and scandalized at it; then, with all its failings and offences – and certainly one day purified of some of them – it would be the Church of God.” ~ Karl Barth, The Epistle to the Romans, 370.
Repentance requires the realization that we are under judgement.
When the Church self-righteously condemns the world, it refuses repentance. But the answer is not to join the world and self-righteously condemn the Church! It is rather to model realization and repentance from within the Church.
I’m frustrated with the Church, and I’m the problem.