Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Thus and So-Ness of the Church

Neuhaus’ book, Freedom for Ministry, builds a philosophy of ministry in which the theological and sociological elements of pastoral care are balanced. From the outset, the idea of the pastor as an ambassador of a disputed sovereignty emerges as critical. The boundaries of the Church are thus drawn in theological terms, i.e., what we believe, teach, and confess, and in sociological terms, i.e., how we conduct ourselves in the world in light of those beliefs. Neuhaus considers it critical that we realize our beliefs will not be accepted or embraced within the greater culture, yet that we remain consistent in actions which are governed by those beliefs.

In chapter one, “The Thus and So-Ness of the Church,” Neuhaus focuses on the particularity of the Church. It is not acceptable to consider the Church as an institution that runs like any business. We do not exist to meet cultural felt needs. We look to the reality of the Gospel, though that reality is often unseen. When we become confused about our identity or our purpose we fail to be the Church.

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