Wednesday, July 04, 2007

A spot of Volf

'In situations of conflict Christians often find themselves accomplices in war, rather than agents of peace. We find it difficult o distance ourselves from our selves and our own culture and so we echo its reigning opinions and mimic its practices. As we keep the vision of God's future alive, we need to reach out across the firing lines and join hands with our brothers and sisters on the other side. We need to let them pull us out of the enclosure of our own culture and its own peculiar set of prejudices so that we can read afresh the "one Word of God." In this way we might become once again the salt of the world ridden by strife.'

Volf, Exclusion and Embrace, p 54.

I like Volf's concept of ecumenical catholicity. Reading it in book club with some MTC students, some of whom thought Volf was arguing for holding hands with Hindu's and Jedi's, it was great for me to clarify his thesis: that the church needs to keep listening to other parts of the body (the church in other cultures) to make sure it doesn't turn the proclamation of 'Jesus Christ is Lord' into the Australian dream, or American democracy, or the German nationalism that Volf used as an example (that Barmen Declaration is ace).

Coming from a church culture that doesn't always receive top marks for listening to Christians who are 'different', particularly in light of the mess that our international network is in (which you can about here), we need to make sure that we keep listening to and engaging with our brothers and sisters around the globe. A declaration of independence from each other - to whom we belong in and through Jesus has done to us and for us (Bonhoeffer) - would be disastrous.

"Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind." 1 Peter 3.8


byron said...

Who's in your reading group? Good book to pick!

Moffitt the Prophet said...

Marty Feltham, Matt Bales, Christian Anderson, Mike Wells, Laim Shannon and Dave Irving.

Marty and I just keep picking books you've been reading.

Justin said...

Quick clarification -- What makes you say that your church culture doesn't listen to people who are 'different'? Do you think its because they are different? I've heard that a lot, but have only experienced it in a few.

Examples, perhaps?

(I just receieved E and E in my lastest Amazon run, so very keen, btw.)

Moffitt the Prophet said...

Without wanting to name specific people and incidents, and realizing that my statement was a gross generalization, I think the way our church culture finds it all too easy to label people who sound different to us. And once labeled, it becomes easier NOT to listen to that person because, well, mud sticks.

So over the past 20 years, if you didn't won't to engage with someone, you'd describe them as liberal (in terms of womens ministry), or dirty NPP, or charo, or now "emergent", and you've automatically silenced there voice before the can even open their mouth.

andrewE said...

Hey Matt, just realised I didn't have you linked. Now I do.