Here are our written submissions from last night.
Also, I caught an error in one of our links for Chapter 12, from Dec. 18, 2013. Here is the corrected link.
Good conversation from last night as we centered around the often uneasy relationship between religion (the institutionalized version) and politics. (And first time in a long while where we had the whole crew present in a meeting.)
Amanda pointed out that she felt that MacCulloch’s book was more about a “history of the church” rather than the “history of Christianity”. I think I understand her position. It’s a bit depressing to read about how corrupt and power-hungry people have been when reading about church history, even though they hide under the veneer that they are followers of Christ. I believe she wanted to read about accounts of believers in the early part of the church who were not only doing good deeds, but really living out their convictions for the love of Christ and for others.
I think one of the main underlying questions was: What does true Christianity really look like? Does it have to be defined by church denominations or traditions? (No, of course not, but…)
I posed the question, “Didn’t Christ die for the church?”
Chris replied, “He died for his people, the saints – the ‘called-out ones’ or ‘those who are separated out’ (i.e. the meaning of the word holy) ” – as he put it. I believe what he meant was that Christ didn’t die for the institution of the church (with all its corruption, greed, power-mongering, etc.) but for the people who believe, trust, and put his or her faith in Jesus Christ.
But did Christ die for all of this? Did he ever anticipate the history of the church churning out such greed, torture, and bloodshed upon so many people? How did he ever entrust us with all this responsibility and look what we’ve done with it?!
So do we have to throw the baby out with the bathwater, where we see a steady stream of era after era of persons killing, persecuting, taking advantage of others, etc. in the name of Christ?
Perhaps church was really supposed to be like what we experienced last night – an intimate group of Christians gathered around and focusing on Christ, God, and the things of God, and enjoying one another’s company.
We ended the night discussing if we could ever see Jesus conducting a mass, dressed in formal papal attire, and performing the same church rituals underneath the vast majestic halls of St. Peter’s. Same thing could be applied to any grand church ceremonial service whether it be at a traditional Orthodox service or a megachurch in America.
Something just didn’t seem right with those images for us.
I’m inclined to believe that Jesus in the 21st century today would be out among the prostitutes, pimps, drug dealers, drug addicts, homeless, mentally ill, prisons, the poor, the elderly, the sick, even the millionaire stock investor lost in his career and money, and the narcissistic, vapid celebrity, and reaching out to them.
But then again, he entrusts us to be like him today- that when we look in the mirror every morning, that we no longer see our image but rather his.
In order to heal a broken institution, a broken church, or a broken world, we ourselves have to be broken just as He was broken for us.