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The Church Is a Whore, But She’s My Mother

July 24, 2008

First off, let me apologize for the title. It might be a bit vulgar, but it definitely stays with you.  I just watched “Lord Save Us From Your Followers” and heard Tony Campolo talk about this quote. The main point was originally stated by St. Augustine of Hippo, who talked about it I don’t know how many years ago. But Campolo dug it up and expounds greatly on it:

“It is certainly true that our congregations have, at times compromised the radical requirements of discipleship prescribed by Christ, and you may find yourself put off by the church because of its failure to be faithful to his teachings. But I would urge you to consider this fully, and to think about the words of St. Augustine: “The church is a whore, but she’s my mother.” That statement brilliantly conveys how I feel about church. It is easy for me, like so many of the young Evangelicals I know, to note the ways the church been unfaithful as the bride of Christ… Unquestionably, the church too often has socialized our young people into adopting culturally established values of success, rather than calling them into the kind of countercultural nonconformity that Scripture requires of Christ’s followers (Romans 12:1-2).

Why, then, do I encourage you to participate in organized religion and commit yourself to a specific local congregation? Because, as Augustine made clear, the church is still your mother. It is she who taught you about Jesus. I want you to remember that the Bible teaches that Christ loves the church and gave himself for it (Ephesians 5:25). That’s a preeminent reason why you dare not decide that you don’t need the church. Christ’s church is called his bride (2 Cor. 11:2), and his love for her makes him faithful to her even when she is not faithful to him.

Through the ages, God has used the church to keep alive and pass down the story of what Christ has done for us. It is the church’s witness that has kept the world aware that Christ is alive today, offering help and strength to those who trust in him. The story of Christ would have been lost during the Dark Ages if the church had not sustained it in monasteries where the Scriptures were laboriously hand-copied while barbarians were tearing down the rest of Western civilization. Church councils have protected Christianity from heresies by examining new theologies. Today, it is against two thousand years of church tradition that our modern-day interpretations of Scripture are tested. In short, it is the church that has preserved the Gospel and delivered it into our hands.”

 

These are excerpts from Campolo’s book, Letters To A Young Evangelical.  I love the way he expounds on this quote. Many who call themselves “Christians” these days are either not following Christ the way He called them to, or bashing on the “Church” as a whole.  I remember something that author Margaret Feinburg mentioned once.  She explained that the bride might be bloodied with stains and wholes in it’s once white dress, but the groom (Jesus) is still so passionately in love with her and is still coming back to rescue her.

4 comments

  1. thanks so much for this post. i happened to be talking about this quote with a friend tonight, and when i went online to find it, i came across your blog, which also led me to “lord save us from your followers” which i had not heard of until now. your thoughts are valuable!

    -rachel (an american christian in germany)


  2. GO TAYLOR!!!! WOOT!!!!


  3. I really wanna see it now..i’ve watched the stuff that the website offers free…just makes we want more.


  4. Taylor,

    Here is the quote by Margaret (on my top ten of fav authors)
    “I realize the church in America is far from perfect and in many ways has gone astray, but the church is still the bride of Christ. She may have holes in her dress, stains on her shoes, and smeared makeup on her face, but at the end of the day, she is still the bride.

    The Organic God, page 107.

    Thanks for sharing.. looks like you have an international audience :)
    Michele



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