Saturday, November 24, 2012
A "Profane" Church
When we were in San Francisco, recently, we saw a man holding a sign that says "Jesus Christ loves you." This mostly struck me because we don't usually have such demonstrations of religion in Canada. It also struck me because I have an acquaintance in the United States, who seems to be something of a mystic or theosophist who objects to such taking religion outside of the sanctuary, calling it profane, insisting that such demonstrating and confessing turns people of religion and off the faith. Similarly, he likes to call scripture quoting "profane" because the word is supposed to be something more living or arising out of dialogue, etc. (see also the last post and YouTube link). It needs to be more "innovative", with "innovative" being something like a synonym to finding a synthesis of ideas, which, yet, somehow, miraculously, is not a "compromise."
Well, I read this in the current Canadian Lutheran. Volume 27, Number 5, p. 6. Also: canadianlutheran.ca
Luther goes on to explain his concept of the church's missionary role: "He [the Holy Spirit] has a unique community in the world. It is the mother that begets and bears every Christian through the Word of God. The Holy Spirit reveals and preaches that Word, and by it he illumines and kindles hearts so that they grasp and accept it, cling to it and persevere in it.... Until the last day the Holy Spirit remains with the holy community or Christian people. Through it he gathers us, using it to teach and preach the Word. But it he creates and increases sanctification, causing it daily to grow and become strong in the faith and in the fruits of the Spirit." Luther speaks in terms of this "unique community" as a "profane church." Not "profane" in the sense of the church being crude or using gutter language, but "profane" in the Latin sense of the term, meaning to "move outside the temple." There is a temptation for Christians to insulate themselves from the evil world in which they live or to make Sunday worship the end goal of what they say and do, but Christians are to "move outside the temple." The Holy Spirit not only "calls, gathers, enlightens and sanctifies" us by the Gospel, but He sens us as His missionary people into the world. Commenting on 1 Peter 2:9, Luther says, "We live on earth only so that we should be a help to other people. Otherwise, it should be best if God would strangle us and let us die as soon as we were baptized and had begun to believe. For this reason, however, he lets us live that we may bring other people also to faith as he has done for us." Having been the recipient of God's overflowing love and forgiveness, the Christian delights in sharing Christ with others.