Weapons of War – 9

Witness or Worship?

“…the political task of Christians is to be the church rather than to transform the world”–Stanley Hauerwas, Resident Aliens.

This presents a false dichotomy. When Gideon and David were faithful, God went ahead of them and defeated their enemies. Would it be fair to assume that Hauerwas is just saying that political activism is getting the cart before the horse? If so, then I agree with him. When the church is faithful, the blessings of God transform the world around her.

In his lectures on worship, James Jordan notes that the religions of the world offer life, knowledge and glory. For Israel, these three were locked away in the Ark as the hidden manna, the Law and Aaron’s rod that budded. These three are from God manward.

Then, the Holy Place responds to the Most Holy with the Showbread (life), the Incense (prayer in response to God’s words), and the glory of the blossoming almond tree, the Lampstand. These are from man Godward.

With the coming of Christ, the Ark was opened to the church. In our worship we receive these three as Word, Sacrament and Government. As we live these out through the week, the very culture around us is transformed. The church’s “culture of the Book” has resulted in unprecedented literacy. Her self-sacrifice has built hospitals, orphanages, and given western culture a conscience that extends to foreign aid. Her government has been the foundation for welfare, social justice and government accountability. The faithful church measures out heaven’s government on earth and the world is transformed.

All this was basic stuff for the Reformers. How far have we fallen that we need theologians like Hauerwas to spell out the basics for us again in such simple terms? We are like Ezekiel’s house of Israel, trying to maintain an abused and worn out authority while God is starting from scratch, sending us prophets in Adam’s animal skins. WEPOW

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