Can the Church Survive?

In 1963, Harry Blamires penned The Christian Mind. In one section, he contrasted how the secular mind and the Christian mind view the future prospects of the church. I find his remarks fit for today:

We have had more than one series of articles recently on “The Church’s Desperate Crisis”. One has seen it proclaimed that the church is facing its “gravest crisis for centuries”. The Press delights in these topics. “Can the Church Survive?” “Is Religion on the Way Out?” Is there a Place for the Church in the Modern World?”

Were it not so tragic, surely it would be laughable that a world poised on the brink of an H-bomb war should have time to ask, “Can the Church survive?” Can the Church survive, indeed! Can the world survive? As for the Church’s desperate crisis; if a desperate crisis is something which puts the very existence of an institution in jeopardy, then the Church is certainly not facing one. The world is. No doubt of that. But the Church can never be destroyed. It cannot even be gravely damaged. It cannot be decimated numerically: too many of the Church’s members are already beyond the barrier of death; too much of the Church is already safe home. It is perhaps the case that we — twentieth-century Christians — are the last few millions to live on earth in the membership of the Church. Perhaps the end is to be soon. What then? Has not an enormous, immeasurable concourse gone before? No doubt we have reason to feel ourselves to-day a frail, straggling, unheroic Christian band. But look at the tremendous men and women we follow! It could be, in the eyes of God, that the twentieth century’s contribution to the universal Christian Body is the sorriest and least distinguished of all. It could be so. Personally, I don’t think it is; but it is a possibility that has to be allowed for. If it were indeed the case, it would be understandable that our Lord should have chosen to put the heroes at the front and the feeble laggards at the back.

But whatever the quality of twentieth-century Christians, the Church remains unalterably secure. And no Christian who understands the Church’s true nature can talk of the Church as being in danger of being engulfed. It is too late for the world to destroy the Church, two thousand years too late. The world had its chance and did its best — and its worst — on Calvary. God answered with a body of men and women against whom the gates of Hell shall not prevail. We have his word for it. And if the gates of Hell shall not prevail, need we worry unduly about the latest secularist estimate of the Church’s statistical manpower or the jibes of shallow brains-trust intellectuals who have yet to find their peace?

The world is like a great express train hurtling towards disaster — perhaps toward total destruction. And in this truly desperate situation certain passengers are running up and down the corridors announcing to each other that the Church is in great danger! The irony of it would be laughable if it were not so searing. Why, most of the Church’s members have already got out at stations en route. And we ourselves shall be getting out soon anyway. And if the crash comes and the world is burnt to ashes, then the only thing that will survive the disaster will of course be the Church.

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Published in: on January 6, 2011 at 1:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

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