Professor Diane Leclerc of Northwest Nazarene University has a piece up on the Christianity Today website called “The Good News About Bad Churches”. In it, she asks, “How, then, do we explain the seeming contradiction between what we believe about the church and what we experience in the church? Is it wishful thinking to proclaim the church holy? Are pain and heartache just inevitable?”
She goes on to express the tension that exists between that grateful, forgiven kingdom behavior that should reflect who we are in Christ and the ways in which our reality falls short. We are flawed, imperfect human beings with a seemingly-unlimited capacity to do damage to one another. This business of living in the now-but-not-yet means that the potential for all sorts of sin is attracted to and amplified among the “not yet” sort of sheep we currently are. I appreciated Leclerc’s reminder that the prod of the “now” comes as we recognize the sin-sickness of our own idolatry and reach as individuals in our broken state for the cure of devotion to God. As we do, a bad church can become a better version of itself. I didn’t disagree with most of what she expressed, though I perhaps would have liked to have seen a bit of application of these ideas toward the corporate “we” personality of the church, instead of just the individual me’s that comprise a local congregation. That said, 99% of the piece was solid writing.
But I found 1% of the essay extremely troubling. The single sentence was almost an aside, Leclerc’s summary statement following a quote about the nature of holiness from Wesleyan theologian David Thompson: [Read more]