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William Stringfellow on the Church

This is one of those quotes that haunts and challenges me. What would this look like if our churches believed this? What would if look like if we as Christian’s believed this?  If after reading you have a strong reaction to this quote, or just a thought I would love to hear it, so feel free to comment below.

“One who is a participant in the Church, one who is incorporated into this Body, one who is baptised into this company has not only the personal freedom to expend his own life without guile or calculation or fear of death – or any more minor prudence – but also, characteristically, he is indifferent to whether or not the churches maintain an amiable reputation in society, or whether or not the churches have much wealth and a sound investment program, or whether or not the churches, or the ecclesiastical authorities, have much political influence. On the contrary, the Christian is suspicious of respectability and moderation and success and popularity. And this is so because the genius of the Christian life, both for a person and for the company of Christians, is the freedom constantly to be engaged in giving up its own life in order to give the world new life. All the questions of status and power and reputation, and all defensive, conservative and self-serving questions about preserving the institutional existence of the churches are matters of some indifference except insofar as they impede the ministry of the Body of Christ, entice men into false religion and a wrong understanding of what the Christian society is, and lure them into misleading notions of what the Christian life is all about.”
-William Stringfellow, A Public and Private Faith, pg. 78


About christianharvey

I am a youth worker, husband, dad and drummer.

2 responses to “William Stringfellow on the Church

  1. The quote is challenging to say the least. It speaks to my passion to live an authentic Christian life, but it also speaks to my hypocrisy, as I strive to please people and institutions, often for my own glory before that of Christ. I find solace in admitting that I am just a kid, struggling through this life, trying to love people, trying to live like Christ would, and that, even at my best, I am still struggling. I like the part, ‘the Christian is suspicious of respectability and moderation and success and popularity’. Wow. It is true when we look at the life of Christ, but applying it to our own life leaves a quagmire of situations where we use words like, stewards, responsible, security, future, and reputation over words like, love, compassion, mercy, and the cross. Using the former words over the latter mask our shame and keep us safe.

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