The potential for idolatry via “the visible church”

Reading this document that I wrote about fifteen years ago, it strikes me as open to certain possible snares. There is a kind of tribalism that is abhorrent to the Gospel mandate of love for God and his people. In John’s letters he talks of those who refuse teachers from the wider Church. That can happen.

But when one catches a vision of the Church as a real historical institution, like Israel except transnational, one can also abuse the concept. One can claim loyalty to “The Church” while not actually loving the real local people in one’s own life.

The thing about “the visible Church” is that it is not actually visible. You can’t see transcontinental, inter-generational organizations any more than you can see God’s decrees or the secrets of a persons heart. The only part of the Church  you can see, hear and experience in other ways are the Christians you know in their capacities and offices.

And you are supposed to love them.

One thought on “The potential for idolatry via “the visible church”

  1. C. Frank Bernard

    John 21:15-17: When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him,

    “Feed my lambs.”

    16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him,

    “Tend my sheep.”

    17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him,

    “Feed my sheep.”

    Reply

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