We are at the second to last chapter in Jon Wilson’s Why Church Matters and I want to ask a question that for many of my readers is (perhaps) ludicrous to ask. If not ludicrous, perhaps the question is just quaint.
Announcement: our next book will be Tracy Balzer, Thin Places: An Evangelical Journey into Celtic Christianity. Many of us, I suspect, have an affinity for Celtic Christianity and Tracy’s book is a good and sure guide — and full of insight and suggestion.
Do you confess that the Church is “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic”? If so, how can you do so with a clean and clear conscience? Are we playing with words?
Jon Wilson has four suggestions and I’ll just list them here and see what you think:
1. To confess the church as one is to confess that the Church is one in its calling to witness to God’s kingdom. Its unity is its witness to the kingdom of God.
2. To confess the church as holy is to confess to the eschatological consummation and completion of the church in that future perfect and holy kingdom of God as it journeys toward that future even today.
3. To confess to the catholic church is to confess to the utter diversity — Rev 5:9 — and yet final unity in the kingdom of God.
4. To confess to the apostolic nature of the church is to confess to the church’s commitment to read and practice the Scripture — and to do that reading and practice in the context of the church instead of just in the academy and in the local Bible study.
The distinguishing feature of Jon Wilson’s approach — and I grew from a skeptical to an encouraging stance on this — is its thoroughgoing eschatological orientation here. We are to acknowledge, to be sure, the great work of God now but the fullest realization is still in the Future.
Furthermore, this is a creed that reflects Christian Scripture and therefore is worthy of serious consideration on our part.