Robin Lovin writes in the Christian Century and suggests a middle road between a Hauerwasian “Benedict Option” for the Church, and mid-20th Century Social Gospel “The World Sets the Agenda” model.
The work of Christian Realism in our time begins by proclaiming the Good News in worship and teaching, remembering that even those who sing and pray with us may never have heard it except as an answer to problems they already knew they had. The gospel presents a harder truth: it calls us to be changed in a way that changes what we want.
The work of Christian Realism entails forming the church as a community of trust in which people can explore questions about their lives that they cannot yet ask in the places where those questions concretely arise. In many cases, these questions will be about work and its purposes, but they will also include concerns about families, schools, and the neighborhoods where they live.
The full essay can be found here.
I’m particularly struck the vision in the last paragraph – a vision of a community of exploration and discernment. This is less about forming a safe enclave of the elect as it is about creating a band of pilgrims who journey and support one another as they move deeper into the implications of God’s Reign in the world today.
We’re talking about something like this at the Cathedral of St. John in Providence. It’s why I believe the church is ready for a new expression of the cathedral paradigm.