‘Not your church(es)’: the pedantry of piety and politics

When you study Greek at Bible College, you have to learn the dozen ways in which a genitive can be used: the possessive genitive, the genitive of apposition, the subjective or object genitive, the partitive genitive and so on. And within each of these categories there are finer differences.

But it seems that often in conversation with ministers this subtlety gets lost. There are many ways of using the genitive. Indeed there are many ways of just using a possessive pronoun ‘mine’, ‘our’. However piety and politics won’t have it:

The pedantry of piety: It’s not YOUR church, it’s JESUS’ church

Sure it’s a good rhetorical line. And talking often about ‘my church’ MAY betray a deeper presumption and pride.

But talking about ‘my church’ may well just be a way of saying ‘the church I fellowship with’, ‘the church where I minister’. There’s nothing theologically suspect or dishonouring to Jesus in that construction.

The pedantry of politics: They’re not YOUR churches, they’re OUR churches

Sometimes parachurch networks, like MTS or Geneva will get pulled up by denominational leaders: ‘Stop talking about YOUR churches, they say. These are not ‘MTS churches’ these are ANGLICAN (Presbyterian/Baptist/foo) churches.’

Of course on the level constitutional precision this is correct. And it MAY be responding to a legitimate quasi-anti-denominationalism. (Of course it MAY ALSO betray a territorial spirit in the heart of the denominational leader - perhaps we need to get a bit pious and remember: they’re JESUS’ churches!)

But talking about ‘our churches’ may also merely be another way of saying ‘the churches affiliated with our network.’

It is possible for the same church to be Jesus’ church, my church, a Baptist church AND an MTS church.

NEXT WEEK: the pedantry and piety of datives…

via Blog - Christian Reflections http://genevapush.com/blogs/xian_reflections/not-your-churches-the-pedantry-of-piety-and-politics (NB: to comment go to thegenevapush.com/xian_reflections)