I’ve been thinking this morning about what happens when two doctrines collide.
One is the doctrine of humanity. This doctrine tells us what we were supposed to be, and how sin has made us much less than that. A doctrine of humanity means we’re not surprised at human weakness and failure. And because churches are composed of people, it is pretty realistic about the fact that pastors and members of churches will let us down pretty badly at times. I have lots of sympathy for those who have been hurt and burned by their experience with the church. The issues are real.
But take the doctrine of humanity and crash it into the doctrine of the church. In his commentary on Ephesians, John Stott writes:
The letter focuses on what God did through the historical work of Jesus Christ and does through his Spirit today, in order to build a new society in the midst of the old…The true evangelical, who derives his theology from the Bible, will be bound to have the very “high” view of church which the Bible has. Today more than ever we need to catch the biblical vision of the church.
That’s why Paul cold write to the presumably ordinary people of Ephesus that they were “saints, faithful in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 1:1).
I’m trying to hold these two doctrines in tension. On one hand, I want to be very realistic about the weakness of the people (including me) who comprise the church. On the other hand, I want to see that the church is a whole lot more than the human weakness we so often see, so that I never think too lowly of the church.
Not an easy tension to hold, but one worth fighting for I think.