The Christian Faith is the most exhilarating thing in the intellectual marketplace. Christianity is not well known. It is a
secret. The world has no idea what Christianity is. The place of the Church is always to be concerned first about its own obedience to God and to the discipline that keeps it refreshed by that word and thankful for it. It must continue to take the whole faith God gives it, and thus be made able to pass that faith on.
1. What is the gospel?
The gospel is the unlocking of all locks;
the declaration of universal release;
a commission of enquiry and its report;
a public trial in which the powerful are assessed for the quality of their work, and
the removal from office and the expulsion of the powerful who have impoverished rather than enriched those they have been set to serve.
The gospel is the release of what has been locked up in private treasuries to those who have received nothing;
the sheltering, feeding and clothing of those who have never been sheltered, fed or clothed;
the naming, ordering and enabling of all creatures and all creation;
the witness that though all of this has started, none of it is completed, and
the self-introduction of God
2. What is the Christian life? The Christian life is the life of Jesus Christ. Led by him, we now live this life of his, by the Holy Spirit. The Christian life is the life we live together with the whole people of God– it is the communal life. It is life lived before the whole world – it is the political life. The Christian life is the active life – it makes us vocal and sets us to work. It is adult life – we leave our false childhood and take on responsibility. It is a life concerned to keep every other Christian integrated within the Christian body so all are kept invulnerable. The Christian life is the art of confrontation and contradiction. The Christians interrupt the processes by which some are marginalized, and this is made to seem normal and unexceptional. The Christians intervene to protect whoever is being taken advantage of. The Christian life is the knack of getting poorer, of losing respectability, of letting go of all means of support, and of becoming less visible to society. The Christian lifestyle makes us look increasingly out of place for the society around us. It is to be part of a public display in which we are humiliated in front of the whole world.
3. Why does the Church confess ‘Christ died for me’? ‘Christ died for us’ means that Christ has taken us away from all the other sources that we were deriving our life from, bringing to an end the life we were receiving from these other authorities, and replacing it with his own. He separated us from them and them from us, so each was dead to the other, and then alive to Christ, able to form new living relationships.
4. What are the gifts of the Spirit? There is one gift of the Spirit, and that is Christ-like-ness. The Spirit of Christ makes us copies of Christ. He makes us travel the same way as our leader. The Spirit will take away from us every other source of comfort and support and lead us into costly discipleship. The Spirit make the Christian community the gift of Christ to the world, but delivered first to the world gently and sequentially, dispensed in the form of many people, the prophets and saints, in order to prepare the world for the arrival of the one person, our king.
5. What is going on in a Church service? The Church service is:
1) the speech of the Father and the Son making itself audible on earth
2) the communion of the Father and the Son creating communion on earth
3) our being caught up in their speech and conversation to give thanks and intercede
4) our taking up our release from all other forces and authorities
5) our coming to speak and act with the generosity God gives us and enables us to receive.
6. How does Christianity face the increasingly secular world? The world is not increasingly secular – it is always secular, by definition. The Church is always there for the sake of this world. But it is not that society is secular and Christians are religious. It is exactly that other way around. All members of this secular society are propelled by unnameable forces and give their allegiance to authorities that are indefensible, the creations of fear and superstition. They are in denial about this and are not able to name these forces and delusions, and it is precisely this that makes these so effectively their religions. Christianity is a secular movement in that it frees us from fear and submission to such phenomena: the gospel frees us from all the gods of this world.
7. How does Christianity respond to new social and religious movements? The Church must not take society’s claims and description of itself too seriously. When a social or religious movement is described as new, or when society is described as post-modern, the Church must question it and point out that these phenomena repeat some very old patterns. Society is always describing itself as new because it has no memory. Christianity is here to remind it of its intellectual parentage. Christianity is a form of healthy scepticism of the pretensions of the society that claims to be a self-made.
8. What new forms of Church are emerging? The new forms that emerge are the old forms bubbling up from the bottom of the pot. The Church is always being renewed. If you can only see a dead Church fought over by competing parties you should rub your eyes, pray and learn to see more clearly. We are being made a people with a life that takes the form of old practices of discipleship. Christianity is not a form of escapism from other people, but points to the process by which we are made both social and distinct, both together and yet properly and utterly ourselves.