Donald Miller recently posted some thoughts about the church. It has caused some chatter about the purpose of the church and how/if it’s teaching model ought to be changed. Here’s my thoughts, in response to what he said.
Theologians and teachers are necessary for the protection of the truths espoused by the earliest Christian councils. These truths were laboriously identified and bantered about for the sake of understanding, for the sake of knowing God. These truths (say, the Nicene Creed) are under attack, as they have always been, from within the church and without, and must be protected. The only way they can be protected is through sharing them, by passing them from one person to another, by upholding them and teaching them.
That being said, it is important for scholars and laymen alike to turn to ecclesiology to understand the nature and purpose of the church. The church is the body of Christ. We are a bride. In case you’ve never met a person who is engaged, they suffer from a constant distraction regarding their impending nuptials. The church does not carry this same effervescence. It is our identity and purpose to prepare for our union with God.
Engaged people tend to be distracted by the material aspects of preparing for their wedding, but many, too, spend their time pondering the nature and purpose of marriage, and learning to chasten themselves for the sake of knowing and loving their spouse. To prepare for a wedding, one must book a church, buy a dress, and send out invitations. But they must also learn the discipline of love. They must prepare to be united with this person. Many pastors require marriage counseling in order to arm the couple with as much knowledge as possible for their marriage.
If the church were to abandon teaching as a central aspect of its practice, it would be as foolish as refusing to learn about your future spouse, as foolish as ignoring the weight of the relationship which will alter your identity. There are other aspects of preparing for a wedding, though, as there are other practices for the church. The church should revel in its longing for the coming day. The church should be scholarly and academic, but that is not to say it should not only be scholarly and academic.