I Love the Church (Abu Daoud)

I Love the Church
by Abu Daoud

Some people might think I'm odd for blogging about historical Christian figures
and issues and Islam at the same time. I mean, why mix the two topics?
The first answer is that I, the blogger, like both topics. But the
better answer is that they are linked. If we want to understand Islam
and Christianity today we must understand them historically as well. If
we only know Acts and our local church today the truth is that we not
been exposed to the many creative and wonderful and sometimes-frustrating and enigmatic way that God's purpose has been worked out through history.

Another reason is that I love the church. The church fathers knew all about this. they had great quotes like, "You cannot have God as your Father without having the church as your mother," and, "We are convinced that a man loves God only
insofar as he loves the church." That's good stuff. I think we modern Americans
and Westerners in general don't like that kind of speech because the
whole Modernist project is based on this idea of progress and reaching
perfection by allocating more and more authority to the individual.
That vision has failed pretty miserably if you ask me (abortion,
anyone? Gay marriage?), but it remains and we are more or less church
whores. I mean, we just go from one to the next and find whatever will
scratch our itch of the day, not so unlike the man who goes from woman
to woman because he just can't find the perfect one.

May I also say here that this is all tied to my dislike of the invisible church
theory--that there is some invisible "true church" made up of all those
who are truly born again. I mean, that's fantasy. Can you show me one
important element of our society, or in the Bible, or in history, that
was totally interior and invisible? Guess what, there isn't any. That's
kind of like saying that Uncle Roger, who is annoying and smells bad
and arrives drunk at family functions, is not really family. I mean,
yeah visibly he's there, but he's not part of your
invisible family.

I also think that the church is part of the Good News. I mean, it's part of the Gospel, right? Couldn't Jesus have left us alone without any kind of community?
Couldn't he have just made sure we all had our Bible for our quiet
times, locked in our rooms with books about 1st Century Palestinian
Agriculture and Roman Trade in Corinth so that we can understand the
books we're reading? But what did he do? He gave us a ritual that
requires other people--or do you often celebrate Communion alone
(Catholic monks exempted from the question). Or try this: did you
baptize yourself? Ah yes...there's just something about ritual and
other people that we just can't get away from...Thank God.

So we have this duty and we receive a blessing in knowing about these topics.
Just yesterday I told a Muslim believer about the life of Saint Francis
and he found it deeply inspiring. My son's favorite story is the life
of SaintColumba , which I just tell him from my memory. On a long road
trip with some youth I told them the long story about Saint Julian and
they found it riveting. These are great stories. As (saint) Rich
Mullins said, "Stories like that make a boy grow bold, stories like
that make a man walk straight."


SocietyVs said…
I have quite the appreciation of early church history also - for me things get muddy after Constantine - then kind of veer straight off the road in the middle ages for a while. But I think this generation (and the one's previous) have begun the research to 'right the ship' - we still have problems in the church but I see us progressively working that out in this era - kinda cool really.
Abu Daoud said…
Ah yes, Constantine...he is quite a divisive figure. I don't think it's right to put a whole lot of blame on him personally. If anything he was used by God to entrust the church with a great deal of power, and that was then, in certain places and at certain times, a failure on the part of the church.

And also RE Constantine: are we going to say the Edict of Toleration was bad? And then that the later decision where by Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire was bad? How can we make such a decision? On what basis?

I just want to point out that we at least need to be able to defend such a position.

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