The Kingdom and Its Righteousness: Rightly Defining the Spirituality of the Church
Posted by Matthew J. Tuininga
Sean Michael Lucas’s fascinating book, For a Continuing Church, highlights in no uncertain terms the vital importance of the doctrine of the spirituality of the church to the origins of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). Next to the authority of Scripture, no other commitment played a more important role in forging the identity of the evangelical Presbyterians who established the PCA. These Presbyterians insisted that the Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS) had exchanged its spiritual mission of evangelization, summarized in the Great Commission’s call for the church to make and train disciples (Matthew 28:19-20), for the activism of the social gospel.
And yet, Lucas’s book also makes clear just how misleading these evangelical Presbyterians’ self-understanding was. For in point of fact, they were just as concerned about the social and political impact of Presbyterianism as were their progressive rivals, and just as likely to use their religious authority to argue against communism or racial integration as were their opponents to argue against the Vietnam War or segregation. As often as not, it seems, the spirituality of the church doctrine was invoked simply to shut down efforts that were deemed too progressive, only to leave the church free to proclaim the implications of Scripture for a conservative social worldview. In short, many of those who appealed to the doctrine interpreted it through the lens of their own reactionary politics rather than from the standpoint of the gospel of the “kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33), biblically understood. The whole church, the right wing as well as the left, was all too politicized.
About Matthew J. TuiningaMatthew J. Tuininga is the Assistant Professor of Moral Theology at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Posted on February 16, 2016, in Calvin, Church Government, Presbyterianism, Social Gospel, Two Kingdoms and tagged Reformation 21, Sean Michael Lucas, Spirituality of the Church. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on The Kingdom and Its Righteousness: Rightly Defining the Spirituality of the Church.
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