You will observe that I am not merely exhorting you “to go to church.” “Going to church” is in any case good. But what I am exhorting you to do is go to your own church – to give your presence and active religious participation to every stated meeting for worship of the institution as an institution. Thus you will do your part to give to the institution an organic religious life, and you will draw out from the organic religious life of the institution a support and inspiration for your own personal religious life which you can get nowhere else, and which you can cannot afford to miss – if, that is, you have a care to your religious quickening and growth. To be an active member of a living religious body is the condition of healthy religious functioning.
4 thoughts on “Organic Church”
Kind of a weird statement “to give your presence and active religious participation to every stated meeting for worship of the institution as an institution.”
Dennis can you put this into plain language for me. As I read this it sounds very weird to me.
First, while going to church has benefits or is good in itself (as opposed to being an evil thing), simply going is not enough.
“Go to your own church” means to become part of a specific local expression of the body of Christ.
Second, it might be helpful to replace Warfield’s word “religious” with something like “spiritual”. Both words have merits, but both also have weaknesses. The latter word, “spiritual”, will get more easily to the contemporary heart.
Third, “give your presence” means actively participate, don’t just occasionally visit… “every stated meeting for worship” means for worship, not necessarily program or activity.
Fourth, “as an institution” reflects a high view of the church. It recognizes that the assembled congregation is greater than the individual parts. (People don’t like the word institution these days, but there is nothing wrong with the word. People assume it means “dead” or “stuffy”, but that is not the meaning. For example, Marriage is an institution…)
Fifth, when one commits himself/herself to and “gives” himself/herself to regular active participation, he/she contributes to the organic nature of the church. Those who are inconsistent or scarce not only do not contribute but rob other members of the Body by their absence. By participating one contributes to the whole and the benefit of all.
Sixth, at the same time we benefit from participation. Absence not only robs others of our contribution, but it denies us the benefits that God promises us. When we are actively involved in the life of the church we receive benefits we “can get nowhere else” and which “we cannot afford to miss” – IF… we actually care about the things of God and spiritual growth. (Some people join a church but do not really care about their own spiritual growth – nor the growth of others.)
Seventh, Warfield says (Though saving grace is essentially unconditional…) spiritual growth (sanctification) is conditional. To be an active participant in a faithful church is one of the conditions of spiritual vitality. It is a means instituted by God to receive his promised benefits.
In sum, Warfield, speaking at the end of the 19th Century, directly addresses a trend common today of Wal-Mart Church – people go get what they want, but they assume no personal investment is necessary. (It’s all about what they get and want anyway, right?)
Dennis I’m impressed ! Thanks, nice job of explaining some stuffy language. Again – like your post better !
I think for many, Church is about what they get and want. Pretty sad, but true.
But for others I think it’s about really learning and expressing our Love for God and then carrying that outside. Also a place or platform to engage our culture. It’s not about us.
I am glad the translation was helpful. If this were 1911 then Warfield’s language would probably have seemed fresh and pithy.