Wednesday, October 31, 2007

"The Church Is a Whore, But She's My Mother"

After watching Lord Save us From Your Followers I have had a Tony Campolo quote floating around in my head. The main point was originally stated by St. Augustine of Hippo, who by the way must have been pretty badass in his day to use the word "church" and "whore" in the same sentence. But Campolo dug it up and expounds greatly on it:
"It is certainly true that our congregations have, at times compromised the radical requirements of discipleship prescribed by Christ, and you may find yourself put off by the church because of its failure to be faithful to his teachings. But I would urge you to consider this fully, and to think about the words of St. Augustine: "The church is a whore, but she's my mother." That statement brilliantly conveys how I feel about church. It is easy for me, like so many of the young Evangelicals I know, to note the ways the church been unfaithful as the bride of Christ... Unquestionably, the church too often has socialized our young people into adopting culturally established values of success, rather than calling them into the kind of countercultural nonconformity that Scripture requires of Christ's followers (Romans 12:1-2). 
Why, then, do I encourage you to participate in organized religion and commit yourself to a specific local congregation? Because, as Augustine made clear, the church is still your mother. It is she who taught you about Jesus. I want you to remember that the Bible teaches that Christ loves the church and gave himself for it (Ephesians 5:25). That's a preeminent reason why you dare not decide that you don't need the church. Christ's church is called his bride (11 Con 11:2), and his love for her makes him faithful to her even when she is not faithful to him. 
Through the ages, God has used the church to keep alive and pass down the story of what Christ has done for us. It is the church's witness that has kept the world aware that Christ is alive today, offering help and strength to those who trust in him. The story of Christ would have been lost during the Dark Ages if the church had not sustained it in monasteries where the Scriptures were laboriously hand-copied while barbarians were tearing down the rest of Western civilization. Church councils have protected Christianity from heresies by examining new theologies. Today, it is against two thousand years of church tradition that our modern-day interpretations of Scripture are tested. In short, it is the church that has preserved the Gospel and delivered it into our hands."
These are excerpts from Campolo's book, Letters To A Young Evangelical (I kind of wish I would have read this book 1 1/2 years ago when I was walking some slippery slopes. I turned out alright, but I suppose it's never too late.)

4 comments:

Henry said...

I love it! Great words. Here's to remaining critical, yet faithful... Cheers!

DK said...

Glad you enjoyed this. Thanks for the encouragement Henry!

I saw Mars Hill on your blog. You in the NW?

Unknown said...

I haven't been able to find where Augustine actually ever said that quote. Tony Campolo says that Augustine said it, but besides that, I can't find it anywhere.

Anonymous said...

"He can no longer have God for his Father, who has not the Church for his mother" (Cyprian of Carthage, On The Unity of the Church).