The pomo obsession with “spirituality” over “religion” and “churchless” Christianity over “institutional” Christianity is a ridiculous cop out. This semester I’ve had students some read Kevin de Young and Ted Kluck’s book Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion. There is a cool quote in this book: “Churchless Christianity makes about as much sense as a Christless church, and has just as much biblical warrant”. That itself is based on a quotation from Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “The Body of Christ takes up space on earth. The Body of Christ can only be a visible body, or else it is not a body at all.”
When I lecture on ecclesiology, I always start with a parable. Imagine if you heard two guys in a men’s room saying how their friend Fred had a fiance that she was an ugly, good for nothing, dysfunctional, obnoxious, dumb as a mule, smelly tramp. Now imagine if Fred suddenly walked out of a cubicle behind them and had heard what they had said. Moral of the story, remember that the church, for all her failings, is still Jesus’ fiance and I don’t think he really likes it when we talk smack or trash about her.
Two of my favorite church quotes are:
“You cannot have God as your Father, without the Church as your Mother”
– John Calvin.
“The church is the people, not the steeple.”
– Rick Warren