Church as a shop window (2)

Whilst still thinking about the church as a shop window for the Kingdom of God, I came across this from Tim Keller in his book Center Church which I am reading at present

“Using the concept of sphere sovereignty, it is best to think of the organized church’s primary function as evangelizing and equipping people to be disciples and then sending the “organic church”  – Christians at work in the world – to engage culture, do justice, and restore God’s shalom.”

Keller sees sectors of society as under the rule of sphere sovereignty, and church is a boot camp for life and witness in the world, God creates orders which are separate from the church, Keller argues. Such an approach bases its ethics on creation/nature, and in so doing elevates God the Creator over God the Son as the source of moral authority. Yoder pleads that Jesus the Son cannot be separated from the Father. A true Trinitarian ethic starts with Jesus.

The inevitable conclusion is that culture is inherently good and stable.The basic institutions of society are grounded in creation. The church is not a dynamic countercultural body by which the surrounding culture is transformed. Therefore individuals can go out into the world to bring shalom to the orders of government, education, art, family, neighbourhood separate from the church, but never challenge those very structures. This is pretty well the default position of many churches and most Christians.

The danger here is that we therefore minimise the degree to which institutions are in rebellion against God. Wink and Yoder talk about this in terms of “the powers and principalities”. So when we send individuals into society there is the danger of missing just how much we might be sending them to participate in evil. We assume organisations, institutions and structures can all be redeemed as are. By misreading the times, we forget that government, education, culture have turned evil.

The Anabaptist approach has been to withdraw entirely from aspects of its culture precisely as an act of resistance, so that we will not be complicit with the evil structures of this world.

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