Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The quest for meaning.

In 2005 I met Prof. Wessel Stoker. He is a Systematic Theology professor at the Vrije Universiteit van Amsterdam. I had the privilege of presenting a paper on a chapter from his book "Is the quest for meaning the quest for God?" (See my booklist to the right) with him sitting in. The feedback was very positive, but that's beside the point.

I started reading this book again, mainly because my sense of connection to God is increasingly leading me down a path which recognizes that the church does not own God, neither does it exist as the sole custodian of God's ability to reveal Godself. So much for Sola Ecclesia. Let me say this, I am not even sure why I am entering this as a blog, nor do I actually know what I want to achieve with this post, but here it is: raw and unsolicited.

Paul Tillich was a chaplain during WWI. One evening, a night-attack took place which left most of his friends either injured or dead. Reflecting on this event, he states that in that moment he felt a disconnection between himself and the God of religion. He was aware of God's presence, but in a different capacity (I am quoting from memory, but if someone would like the reference, I'll be happy to look it up).

Paul, in his letter to the Romans (which I am busy writing a Bible study on), is clear about the obstacle which caused the Jewish lack of recognition of who God is - not a God owned by institution, religious acts or the law - but a God of love and compassion who called Israel to be a witness. A witness. A witness to who, a witness to the world! Why should they then be upset if gentiles responded to the Gospel? This was the aim!

Let me not even start on Barth!

So, yes, there it is. Fragmented thinking, once again, but I think you catch my drift. I wonder if the ultimate ecclesiology is not one of creatio in nihilum - that the church should work itself out of an institution. What if the church became a witness, which would not get anxious if those who do not "look" like orthodox christians respond to the Gospel. What if the whole world is "saved"? Would the church still exist, or does it exist purely because it is an alternative to something else?

Think, think, think...crawl, crawl, crawl.

1 comment:

Jenny Hillebrand said...

Hi Wessel

I suppose the house church movement is an expression of deinstitutionalisation (is that a word?). I know my fear is for a loss of accountability and corruption of doctrine. But maybe that is exactly the point.