Fascinating post a couple of weeks ago from VR offering a critique of comments by an unnamed American preacher (Os Guinness? Tim Keller?) on the ‘priority’ of the church. It’s a fascinating perspective on the ‘social gospel’ as seen from the Global East and a sharp appraisal of the clericalism of Western evangelicalism.
The Church as the disciple-community of Jesus is called in the Great Commission to obey and teach others “to obey everything that I have taught you”. This is pretty comprehensive! How on earth did this Great Commission get reduced to preaching? Trying to select from the teaching of Jesus what we will obey, or trying to rank his teachings in a scale of “priorities”, is not to be a disciple of his. And, then, by what right do we call others to discipleship? Jesus expects that the Church that is proclaiming the Gospel among the nations is also living out that Gospel before the nations. Namely, she is committed to peace-making, hungering and thirsting after justice, loving her enemies, healing the sick, sharing wealth with the dispossessed, striving for unity in the midst of differences, and so on.
His responses to one or two of the comments to his post are also interesting.
You can hear the frustration in the closing paragraph,
I stated in my Blog observations of the Edinburgh 2010 conference (“A Centenary Celebration”, 11 June 2010) that clericalism has blighted the witness of the church. I repeat that conviction with regard to Lausanne. All the plenary speakers at the Congress were either pastors or “fulltime” workers in para-church organizations. They are not representative of the vast majority of Christians around the world who serve God as artists, engineers, lawyers, farmers, mechanics, biologists and a host of other “secular” occupations. They are the real “missionaries” of the Church, engaging with non-Christians on a daily basis, and whose work raises ethical issues that are at the cutting-edge of mission. As long as their voice is marginalized at such conferences, we shall continue to have such meaningless debates about “priorities”.
Would that “Reformed” pastors like the one who spoke at Lausanne give us the lead in recovering the Reformation doctrine of the priesthood of all believers!