In the last e-zine, I explored the idea of the church as the body of Christ. Not in a nominalist sense, but somehow in a real sense. I observe some interesting indicators of this in contemporary Christian thought as it pertains to politics.
It seems the only valid reason to seek change in the nation through political means is because the political realm has the power to change things. Now this concept of power is a powerful one and often mistakenly applied.
In the Bible power and authority are connected. To have authority was to have power. Jesus said, “All authority is given to Me” (Matt. 28:18). Was he speaking as the Triune God in general, or more specifically as the second Person of the Trinity? There is a fine difference, because Jesus and the Father are One, in essence if not in their functions. But Jesus appears to indicate all authority belongs to Him as Second Person of the Trinity.
Recently I was a prayer meeting and the pastor was reminding everyone that we have the power of the Spirit. This got me thinking. Is the source of our power in Jesus, the second Person of the Trinity, or the Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity? Interesting question to be explored more a little later. Meanwhile, think of the implications of these two concepts. If you believe Jesus is the source of all power and authority, and you can wrap your mind around the idea of the church as the body of Christ in some real sense, then it seems to that the church becomes the place to find power.
The alternative as indicated in the pastor’s statement above, is that the individual has God’s power available though the Spirit. Now these may not necessarily be two competing claims, but when it comes to saving society, it needs to be asked do you really believe the church has the power of Jesus embodied in it to change the world. Intuitively, apparently, people recognize that the individual does not have sufficient power in himself to change the nation. Corporately, however, Christians can change many things. But is that corporation to be the church — the body of Christ manifest in the flesh — or some other entity?
If nothing else, there’s an historical backdrop to our culture that indicates this “real” view of the church as the body of Christ was part of the success in transforming the world from paganism to Christianity. Unfortunately, so much evidence is lost as to how the early Christians evangelized into Asia and the African continent. All we do know is that the Gospel reached places such as India or Ethiopia very early in the Christian era.
But it seems their concept of spiritual power was superior to our own. Here’s why. They had some significant success.
We, on the other hand, have several hundred years of Nominalist failure to deal with. And the result is a culture that is becoming less Christian as a result of the inability of individualistic Christianity to overcome evil. Something has to change.
God bless you this week in your activities for His kingdom.
Ian Hodge, Ph.D.