Saturday, January 22, 2005

college life

As I enter the final 6 months of my degree, I find myself trying to focus on my college work, trying to reduce my church commitments, looking for a job and failing at all three. I'm getting there though - 2 essays down, 3 to go, plus a dissertation and 5 exams. As part of my dissertation reading I picked up transforming mission by David Bosch. It's one that's been on the list for a long time, but I've only just got round to getting it. Now, the sensible thing to do would be to skim through and find the relevant bits for my work, get the quotes and move on. I, however, find this virtually impossible to do. I read the introduction, and couldn't put it down. I'm now working my way through the entire book, and finding it fascinating. This is why it takes me ages to write an essay. (well, that and the internet). Anyway, here' a bit about the early Christians which struck me :

'Christians-so we read in the second century Letter to Diognetus are not distinguished from the rest of humankind as regards their speech, their customs, and where they live. There remains a critical distance between them and reality around them, however. They are kept in the world as in a prison-house, and yet they are the ones who hold the world together.
The way in which they held the world together was, preeminently, through their practice of love and service to all. Harnack devotes an entire chapter of his book on the mission and expansion of the early church to what he calls "the gospel of love and charity". Through meticulous research he pieced together a remarkable picture of the early Christians' involvement with the poor, orphans, widows, the sick, mine-workers, prisoners, slaves, and travellers. "The new language on the lips of Christians", he summarizes, " was the language of love. But it was more than a language, it was a thing of power and action". This was a "social gospel" in the very best sense of the word and was practised not as a strategem to lure outsiders to the church but simply as a natural expression of faith in Christ.' (p48f)

1 comment:

Steve said...

It sounds like a facinating book - I love the ending of the quote, 'a social gospel in the best sense of the word'.