Project Augustine

Chapter 11: “The New Community”

  1. What are some of your problems about the church in general you may have today?  Why do you go to church in the first place?  (Or why won’t you go?)

  2. On pages 249 – 250, Migliore lists 4 widespread and deep-seated problems of the church: individualism, privatized religion, bureaucratic, and cosmetic.  Which ones have you seen personally that are the most problematic?

  3. On the bottom half of page 256, he offers a critique of today’s modern church.  One critique is the abuse and “exercise of power in a manner resembling that of a totalitarian governments and exploitative corporations.  Leonardo Boff even compares the institutional church to a business enterprise with an elite in charge of the capital (the sacraments) and with the masses reduced to mere consumers.”
    1. Do you see this as a major problem, especially among the megachurches today like Joel Osteen ministries, Vineyard, Hillsong, even Redeemer, for example?  Are they run too much like corporations and just feeding the masses what they want to hear, sometimes with lots of Americanized, sanitized, sentimentalized, individualized, and practical spirituality, instead of the truth?

  4. Near the bottom half of page 257 – 258, there’s the (what I call) the “church as a spiritual hospital” model.  While it is true that in today’s modern society there are many desperate, lonely, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically scarred, and broken people coming to church as they should. However, “there are serious weaknesses in this model as well. These become especially evident when the understanding of Christian community is uncritically borrowed from movements in contemporary culture and ecclesial life becomes indistinguishable from encounter sessions, sensitivity groups, and other kinds of therapeutic gatherings. It is not always clear what distinguishes such communities as specifically Christian. An ecstatic experience of the holy or an experience of intimacy and bonding with another does not necessarily constitute an experience of Christian faith. Moreover, therapy-oriented communities tend to concentrate on the individual’s growth at the expense of the large social responsibilities of the community. Currently popular New Age spirituality provides evidence for this fact. A church that copies such patterns of spirituality and intimate community becomes simply a haven from an insensitive and bureaucratic society and its depersonalizing effects. It becomes… an escape from, rather than a renewing critique of, the larger society that is in need of transformation. While the church is indeed the community of the Spirit in which all have gifts and in which power in shared, the New Testament view this new Spirit-guided community as called to serve God’s purpose of both personal and world transformation.”
    1. Any thoughts on this?

  5. On page 258 – 259, what do you think of his assessment of the church as a “herald of good news”?  He writes, “the church’s mission is above all to proclaim the Word of God and to call the nations to repentance and new life… All matters of institutional structure and satisfaction of personal needs are to be subordinated to the task of proclamation and evangelization.”  However, “When the model of the church as herald dominates or even excludes other models, it is easy for the church to take a patronizing and self-righteous attitude toward people and cultures to whom the Word is to be proclaimed.  Then the church only speaks and never listens” and becomes “an instrument of domination.”  Furthermore, “Preoccupation with the delivery of the message may override the concern to meet concrete human needs for food, shelter, medical care, education, and meaningful employment.”
    1. It’s so funny how subtle and pervasive sin is and how it’s able to corrupt and take really, really good things and make them into liabilities.  The danger of making church an idol or the Ultimate in your life in place of God.
      1. “The gospel of the crucified and risen Jesus Christ is always greater than our theologies, including our theologies of the church.”

  6. On pages 262 – 264, he talks about his model for the church based on the Trinity and imagines the church becoming “imago Trinitas, an analogy of, and partial participation in, the triune life of God.”  (bottom of page 264)  Any thoughts?

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2 Comments

  1. stephen philip says:

    thanks for a wonderful exposure on some of the problems of the church today. How i wish each an every one of us will like you contribute our own idea towards making the church what the master has designed it to be ,thereby restoring the departed glory of the church.

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