Saturday, November 25, 2006

Hans Kung on the church as the servant of the world

I was meaning to post my response to the current book I am reading this week but I have been very busy and besides my brain is not really working properly as of late (it never does anyway). I hope to make up for this next week.

I am citing here Kung’s insights about the church. Kung admits that his early theology is a result of his dialogue with Karl Barth and following him, Kung emphasizes the universality of redemption through Jesus Christ. He says that “”Jesus Christ, in his pre-existence, does not stand alone in the Father’s sight. According to the words of the Sacred Scripture, he stands before the Father together with the church and, indeed, together with humankind. In God’s eternity we human beings, too, were chosen with and in Jesus Christ.”

The same is also true of God’s will to offer his salvation to all humankind. He says that this eternal decree has to do with all men and women, indeed with the whole world (“heaven and earth”). God accomplishes it, however… in the church. Therefore, the church is in the service of the salvation of the world not the church as the master (mistress) of the world because it is usually understood that the world becomes dependent on the church for salvation. Because of this salvation being proclaimed, the church has come into being and that it is thought that God’s kingdom is now beginning.

But the church is not the kingdom of God. The church is neither the bringer nor the bearer of the reign of God which is to come and is at the same time already present. Rather the church is its voice, its announcer, its herald. God alone can bring his reign; the church is devoted entirely to its service. In other words, the church is the servant of God’s kingdom. Kung reminds us that the church’s proclamation about Jesus should always include Jesus’ message about the church.

Kung gives the five ecclesiastical imperatives that arise out of Jesus’ preaching for the church:

  1. The church must not become an end in itself in the present;
  2. It must not build its own achievements;
  3. It must not understand itself as religious-political theocracy, but rather as a spiritual diakonia;
  4. The church is not there for the pious and just but for the godless and sinners;
  5. The church has to do God’s will;

“It must not shut itself off from the world in a spirit of asceticism, but live in the everyday world, inspired by the radical obedience of love towards God’s will; it must not try to escape from the world, but work in the world.”

Hermann Haring, Hans Kung: Breaking Through, p. 60-62

1 comment:

john said...

The truth of the matter is that the "church" INEVITABLY became the servant of worldly power when it was coopted by the Roman state. A "holy" empire being the ultimate oxymoron.
And the "church" has INEVITABLY been an integral part of the western imperialist mis-adventure, with its drive to total power and control, ever since.


These 2 essays provide some cotext for understanding the origins & consequences of the baneful influence of the "church" in world affairs.