The_Missional_Church_the_Church_Catholic.pdf - The Missional Church The Church Catholic | Unbound Author Date Tags racism scripture

The_Missional_Church_the_Church_Catholic.pdf - The...

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Author Henry Kuo A D T economics , environment , GA221 , Racial Justice , racism , scripture The Missional Church: The Church Catholic I was teaching youth and college Sunday school a few years ago, and we were discussing the Apostles’ Creed, particularly the part where Christians confess belief in the ‘holy and catholic church’. One student spoke up and asked what the Creed meant by ‘catholic’. Without much thought, I rattled off the same answer I had received my own Sunday school teachers several years before: ‘catholicity’ means universality – the church is spread throughout the world; it is everywhere. But the question continued to bug me. Is the church’s catholicity merely its geographic presence? During my time in seminary and now in graduate school, I remain befuddled by how much attention has been focused on the church’s unity and holiness while relatively little has been given to catholicity. I believe that it’s time for Reformed Christians to reclaim catholicity as constitutive to how we understand church. After all, Reformed churches (Presbyterian and otherwise) recite the Nicene Creed or Apostles’ Creed on various Sundays, meaning that every week, scores of us confess the church’s catholicity. But how many of us really know what that means? ___________________________________________ Following Jesus requires the church to continually reorient itself toward Jesus Christ. This cannot be done individually; thus, the importance of the church catholic. The Missional Church: The Church Catholic | Unbound ... 1 of 7 9/3/19, 10:41 AM
___________________________________________ As I will seek to explain, catholicity is more than simply a statement of the church’s worldwide presence. In fact, I believe that the church’s catholicity lies at the heart of what it means to be a missional church. If we expect to live missionally, then we must also strive to live catholically. What does it mean for the church to be ‘catholic’? The term is difficult to define; it was meant to be evocative and signal openness to a diversity of expressions. Its first recorded use comes from around 110 CE in St. Ignatius of Antioch’s letter to the church in Smyrna. He writes, “Where Jesus Christ is, there the catholic Church is.” [1] This simple formulation gives us an important clue about how Christians understand the church. Or rather, how Christians should understand church. We Christians do not come to understand the church’s mission by first looking inward – that is, by figuring out how we can ‘do church better’. Our first move must be to look out of ourselves towards Jesus Christ, our model and teacher in our understanding of the church. As such, the church does not engage in ministries of healing, teaching, and even resistance against injustice simply because those are good ideas things to do. The church heals, teaches, and protests against injustice because Jesus healed, taught, and turned over the tables of the traders in the Temple’s Outer Court. The richness of catholicity can be further appreciated if we attend to its Greek origins.

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