Religion and Law in Contemporary US
Bill Long 10/8/06
A Religion Worksheet
The purpose of this sheet is to give participants an opportunity to "plot themselves," to ask questions and to state where they stand on the question of which model the church or their individual congregation ought to adopt for itself today.
In classes on 10/1 and 10/8 I introduced 4 theories or images of the church coming out of the 1950s-1980s.
1. Church Membership/The Church as the Group of Those Who are Good Americans--Church Membership as Sign of Loyalty to the American Way of Life, in contrast (at least in the 1950s-1980s) to "godless" Communism.
2. Church Membership/The Church as the Society of those not simply confessing faith in Christ as Lord but of those who could testify to God's work of grace in their heart--i.e., when Christ "saved" them. The Church, then, as those who have "experienced" and testify to saving grace.
3. Church Membership/The Church as the Society of those committed to the social justice ministry of the Church. This ministry is grounded in Scripture and is supported by our Confessions, especially C'67.
4. Church Membership/The Church defined by those who are committed to political activism of the Church but believe it ought to be in "personal moral" areas, such as abortion rights (against), gay marriage (against), or in more "societal" issues such as increased defense spending (for it) or support for Israel (for it).
These categories can be further refined, but let's just leave them here like this for now.
Questions to Answer
1. What kinds of churches have you been involved with over the years, and what would you say was the dominant tone of those churches (1-4)?
2. What has been your approach to Church? Is religion a "hot" subject for you (meaning that the emotional dimension of religion is essential and important to you?); is it more of a community of friends? Are you comfortable with "God talk" ("The Lord told me this; God told me that...")?
3. Does the Presbyterian Church (USA) adopt one of the four models above as its dominant image? Does your congregation? Do you think it would be best if the denomination did so? Each particular congregation was left to choose its own model?
4. Are these models compatible with each other?
5. If you could pick a model for your congregation, what would it be? Why?
Copyright © 2004-2007 William R. Long