Friday, August 8, 2008

Clippings Ecclesiological #1: For the Sake of Sinners, Not the Smug

The topic of this year's Ancient Evangelical Future conference (October 9-11) is "the church [as] the continuation of God's narrative." So I'm collecting clippings ecclesiological as I run across them.

Here are a few memorable lines on the church from American Catholic novelist Flannery O'Connor, borrowed from Martin Marty's Context, which in turn borrowed them from an article by San Francisco archbishop George Niederauer in America. (Don't tell me you've never borrowed anything from Martin Marty.)

You have to suffer as much from the church as for it. The only thing that makes the church endurable is that somehow it is the Body of Christ, and on this we are fed.

And then ...

The operation of the church is entirely set up for the sake of the sinner, which creates much misunderstanding among the smug.

Archbishop Niederauer also offered this insight from T. S. Eliot, which he thought dovetailed with O'Connor's view of the church: Eliot said that "modern people do not like the church because

she is tender where they would be hard, and hard where they like to be soft.

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