A group of us were asked whether we looked towards the future with a sense of hope. Let me pick out some sentences from a famous chapter from the book to help me sleep with more confidence tonight 🙂 On second thoughts, it’s more of a challenge!
“… we cannot speak simply of the ‘Church’ and mean by this the orgnized institution with all its public functions. Nor can we speak merely of the ‘congregation’ and thereby mean the company that gathers around the word and sacrament in divine service. We must follow the Reformation, and especially Luther, in speaking of ‘Christianity’ as represented in ‘church’ and ‘congregation’ and in Christians at their worldly callings. According to the Schmalkald Articles of 1537 ‘by the grace of God alone our churches are thus illumined and nurtured by the pure word and the right use of the sacrament and the knowledge of all kinds of stations and right works (cognitione vocationum et verorum operum)’. This means, however, that Christianity must also continually present itself, and does de facto always present itself, in the weekday obedience and the worldly callings of Christians and in their social roles. This third insight on the part of the Reformation has receded unduly into the background in the movements of the modern evangelical church towards reform. From the standpoint of sociology this is understandable, for modern, emancipated society seems to offer no chance for peculiarly Christian obedience. But from the standpoint of theology it is unintelligible, for it is precisely at this point, at which it is a question of the Christian’s call in our social callings, that the decision falls as to whether Christians can become an accommodating group, or whether their existence within the horizon of eschatological hope makes them resist accommodation and their presence has something peculiar to say to the world.”