body identification

body identification March 1, 2013
body identification cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward
(Click on this cartoon to check it out as a fine art print!)

The church will never die. I’m confident of that.

But the church as we know it… the structure, the organization, the institution… in other words, the manifestation of the church… that is undergoing a massive shift. Some have their foot on the brake. Some have their foot on the gas. Some are asleep in the back seat. Others are just watching it go by like a curious antique car.

I’ve attended a couple of “church funerals” where the church in question was officially and ceremoniously closed. I found them very sad. The last church I pastored is no longer the same church. It was proclaimed “dead” and symbolically reopened with another name. That is sad. But that’s not the church. Just a church.

No… the church is here to stay. How it will look, who’s to say?

Can you identify the body?

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  • Carol

    Try looking in the mirror. The ‘Church’ is not a building or an organization, it is the people.

  • Carol

    Hmmm, there seems to be another *Carol* posting on this blog. That could cause a bit of confusion. Oh, well, here’s a link from Carol D. that offers an interesting perspective on the drama that is play out in the Latin/Western Church:

  • I think we should start looking to the church in S. America, Asia and Africa to see what the future of the church is going to look like.

    I also think that ecumenism is/needs to play a major role in the church’s future.

  • Brian P.

    And I had thought the Church was to die daily.

  • Jeh

    hell no, familiar/lived with/ exposed to these churches (south america, europe, africa), and the answer is HELL NO! They may claim more rwness and more dependence given their often dire circumstance but the theology is more old covenant than even found in the USA, no personal grace/individual freedom whatsoever.

  • Kris

    While the church is the people, when the building closes, the people often disperse. I had a church/school close and it is sad.

    I understand that this is a metaphor for the transition that the church is going through, and even that is sad for some. I am excited about that but that is because I am open to change. For those who want that tradition, and that is ok, it can be very.

  • The Church is where the gospel for the forgiveness of sins, for Jesus’ sake, is proclaimed. And where the Baptism and His Supper are administered in accordance with that gospel. And where people believe it.

    And this can happen in churches of all stripes. God is no respecter of denominations or so-called “non-denominations”.

  • My Baptist church over here in London, UK has a policy of “open doors for all who wish to enter”; by leaving the sentence “open-ended”, they are willing to allow anyone of any faith, belief, or no belief to enter. The ministers noted in recent sermons that the Baptist church in the U.K. actually fought to establish an inter-faith community for the city almost 400 years ago for all people in the city. Based off this, the concept of the British baptist church has been to encorporate a belief of non-judgementalism and openness to everyone around them, especially as Jesus tells us to “follow him”. Unfortunately, due to the rise of the more evangelical-style, “southern U.S.” baptist imports, along with other varieties of Baptist churches that are very much untraditional, the traditional Baptist style appears to be dying away and only a few traditional churches remain, most of which probably existing in metropolitan cities.

    I recently had to attend a “Deacons Day” outing as I am one of the deacons of the church in London. The person who came to speak talked about different personality types using a Myers-Briggs test. I was not impressed by the test and as a result, did not find the day to be as worthwhile as expected (perhaps I have high expectations =:-) ). Anyway, there was one thing that came out of this test and that was that most of the deacons and ministers are introverts, which surprised the presenter as she was expecting a Baptist church to be much more extroverted. Having thought about this, I am seeing a commonality between churches in general:

    – Most (if not all) “happy-clappy”, evangelical churches act in extroversion… but they will be quick to close borders and associate themselves only with “certain” other people. The rise in such churches is quite worrying actually as they are telling more and more people to act in similar ways (or that they cannot define themselves as “Christian”).
    – Most (if not all) analytical, ecumenical churches act in introversion… but are told to go out of the church and be an active part of God’s kingdom. The people will do this as much as they can, nonetheless, but they will often be confronted by the evangelicals that are willing to try to tear them apart without question. I have experienced this a lot and have learned to calmly fight through all of them; they have since stopped talking to me, probably claiming that the Bible is telling them to do so (as if I am the bad guy in all of this… as if! =:-) ).

  • Carol

    My father, a patent attorney, had English clients and one of them was a charismatic Baptist.

    He was looking forward to meeting up with some American Baptists on his personal down-time during the business trip. He was quite shocked at what he encountered and assured us that the Baptists in his country were NOTHING like the American Southern Baptists.

    I don’t know which is more embarrassing at this time in our Nation’s history, being a Roman Catholic or being a Southern Baptist!

    “The dignity of man rests above all on the fact that he is called to communion with God. The invitation to converse with God is addressed to man as soon as he comes into being. For if man exists it is because God has created him through love, and through love continues to hold him in existence. He cannot live fully according to truth unless he freely acknowledges that love and entrusts himself to his creator. …. Without doubt those who willfully try to drive God from their heart and to avoid all questions about religion, not following the biddings of their conscience, are not free from blame. But believers themselves often share some responsibility for this situation. For atheism, taken as a whole, is not present in the mind of man from the start (Atheismus, integre consideratus, non est quid originarium). It springs from various causes, among which must be included a critical reaction against religions and, in some places, against the Christian religion in particular. Believers can thus have more than a little to do with the rise of atheism. To the extent that they are careless about their instruction in the faith, or present its teaching falsely, or even fail in their religious, moral, or social life, they must be said to conceal rather than to reveal the true nature of God and of religion.”–Vatican Council II, Gaudium et Spes, 19

  • Curious to know how many others here feel the same way as Jeh

  • Carol


    I don’t have Jeh’s personal experience, but what was posted makes sense.

    There is a much stronger sense of community in countries that have a large indigeneous population and a deeper shared sense of belonging to the natural order than there is in Western nations that have experienced the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution.

    Their unity is based more on shared experience than on shared beliefs and is not felt to be a violation of individual rights as it would be in our culture.

    Then, too, a literal interpretation of the OT resonates with those in tribal societies much more than it does in modern and post-modern Western European societies.

    There is much wisdom in these simpler societies like their respect for the laws of nature and our place in it rather than above it; but there are also many customs that just wouldn’t work for us.

    We all need a deeper vision of God as Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer to construct a New Cosmology:

    In the Old Cosmology, salvation largely became a kind of heavenly transaction that took place by your moral behavior, by belonging to the right group, and by having the right rituals. It wasn’t really relational. You didn’t have to connect with God; you just had to pay dues to God. You didn’t have to really love God at all. You just had to obey His commandments.

    And God was totally a He in this worldview, which preferred a description of reality as not connection, but domination, despite Jesus. Our word for that is “patriarchy.”

    In fact, we took an amazing amount of ammunition from one single line in Genesis that told us our job was to “dominate the earth.” (See Genesis 1:28.) Of course, if we’d recognized that we were created in the image of God and our job was to dominate the way God dominates, then it would be much more like nurturance and protection.
    ~Richard Rohr, Adapted from The New Cosmology: Nature as the first Bible