Friday, February 29, 2008

The power never appears except in . . .

"The miracle of the early Church was a partial fulfillment of Christ's expressed purpose about setting the earth on fire. . . . What we know is that it was the incendiary character of the early Christian fellowship which was amazing to the contemporary Romans and that it was amazing precisely because there was nothing in their experience that was remotely similar to it. Religion they had in vast quantities, but it was nothing like this. . . . The metaphor of the fire would be meaningless without the fellowship, because it has no significance for merely individual religion, as it has none for merely ceremonial religion. Though it is, of course, impossible to have a committed church with uncommitted members, the major power never appears except in a shared experience. . . . It is almost impossible to create a fire with one log, even if it is a sound one, while several poor logs may make an excellent fire if they stay together as they burn. The miracle of the early church was that of poor sticks making a grand conflagration."

Elton Trueblood, The Incendiary Fellowship, pages 107-108.

Hyper-individualistic Christianity, however intense and euphoric, does not catch fire. It is churches that spread the prophesied fire.