What Church?

I listened to The Liturgists Podcast the other day, the episode with Rachel Held Evans entitled “Saving Sunday” or something similar. And I’m curious…to “save” something implies that at one point it was something worth saving, some more pure form that has since been compromised. However, as early as Acts, the community of believers sees trouble, and specifically, as early as Acts 15:38, there is already disagreement between Paul and Barnabas that causes the two to part. And then into Corinthians, Galatians, and Ephesians, we see even more issue arise with various churches, and Paul clarifying proper practice. So, my contention is that such appeals to an idyllic church are empty — not in intent, but in content. There never was an era of the well functioning church — appeals are always made to the idea of a spiritual community, but that is a virtual community with various located manifestations — all compromised from the start. The church is only bodies working with contradicting ambitions — ambitions that both contradict one another and contradicted by capitalism (in that membership is necessary to function).

Today at the church I attend, I witnessed one person complaining that the church’s FB page removed the “Episcopalian” identifier from the profile, and she scoffed, “we’re not going non-denominational are we?” How many problematic layers are revealed in that one “grievance?” Ultimately, appeals to the nostalgic or idealized church community is shot through with subjectivity and…wait for it…ego. There is no map, there is no Sunday to be saved, there is no Church to be saved.

What are we appealing to? What properly functioning community has ever existed? What are we trying to “get back” to? There is no Church to get back to, only a church to built. I would suggest that we are actually talking about our own visions of church community, which is at the root of the problem isn’t it?

There is no Church — there’s only a church of people, an institution which shouldn’t be held to a standard that was never manifest. Don’t hold a collection of people against an subjectively identified community.

I always gripe about my parents’ church, and my Dad always reminds me that this particular church he attends is the place where he goes to worship God, and the peripheral distractions are nothing he can distract himself with, he can only do his own part. I like that, as much as I hate the church…I like what he says. The community owes you nothing.

#church #community #Paul #Acts #Corinthians