Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Liberal Society and the Church

"Indeed it is not possible to learn to be a sinner without a confession and reconciliation. For it is one thing to confess our sin in general, but it is quite another to confess our sin to one in the church who we may well have wronged and to seek reconciliation. Without such confessions, however, I suspect we cannot be a church at all." (Stanley Hauerwas)

Hauerwas made a provocative observation on the current state of the church. We are living in an increasingly liberal society and by that I mean it is acceptable to say: "You have a right to your own opinion and I have mine. You have a right to live your kind of lifestyle and I have mine. So we agree to disagree." This is called liberal. Is liberal thinking for the Church? An example from the book "After Christendom" by Hauerwas helped illustrate the dilemma.

Bill Moyers was discussing a problem in his church where the wife of one member had committed adultery and had confessed it to the church. After much searching and discussion, the church received her back to membership after meting out the appropriate punishment on her. However, the husband refused to receive her back. In response, the pastor said to the husband:

"You do not have the right to reject her, for as a member of our church you too must hold out the same forgiveness that we as a church hold out. Therefore I am not asking you to take her back, I am TELLING you to take her back."

How we respond to the above actions by the pastor, will indicate to what extent our thinking is liberal or not.

Likewise, if the church demands that the husband takes the wife back, the church must stand with them to ensure that the marriage sticks.


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