Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Kraemer: independence then and now

Wednesday, August 26, 2020
    It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.
    —Ephesians 4:11-14 (NIV)
    The relevance of the laity received the greatest emphasis in the sectarian apostolic movements after the 12th century, and especially in the 14th century through Wycliffe. The specific significance of this peculiar set of protests and movements is that their inspiration was purely religious. They squarely confronted the “ecclesiastical-hierarchical” line with the “biblical” one. They were, of course, not wholly unaffected by repercussions of the conflict between the worldly-conceived papal theocracy and the nationalistic demands of the nations and their rulers for an independent status, but their heart lay really with a reform of the Church in the light of the Word of God.
    fn. Looking back on these struggles, one is again and again struck by the daring and independence of mind shown in the Middle Ages, a time which is always considered to be marked by submissiveness, especially to authority claimed on religious grounds as necessary to salvation. This amazement increases when one takes into consideration our own time, which regards itself by definition as the time of non-submissiveness. Nevertheless, whatever movements of protest and conflict there may be to-day against the hierarchy, they are very weak in daring and independence in comparison with those of the Middle Ages. In our secularistic age, in which submissiveness is devalued on principle, submissiveness to the hierarchical claims of the Church has never before been so undisputed.
    ... Hendrik Kraemer (1888-1965), A Theology of the Laity, London: Lutterworth Press, 1958, p. 60-61 (see the book)
    See also Eph. 4:11-15; Luke 9:57-62; Jas. 1:5-6
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, You truly lead Your church.
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