the ethics of globalization > Part 3: The Church in the World


  Part 3: The Church in the World

Scripture: Body of Christ 1 Corinthians 12:12, Colossians 1:18


Ecclesiology or The Role of the Church in the World: The church is called to proclaim God, through Jesus, and to be a counter-force in the world. When the church truly does proclaim Jesus and does become a counter-force for love and justice, social transformation takes place though the Spirit and countless hours of hard work.



Browse through and listen, read and watch what you want.
The goal of this page is to point to a suggested way the church and/or Christians can respond.


  • Listen to Mary Preus' version of "The Servant Song" Yonder Come Day: Songs for the Journey. Listen to this mp3



  • Walter Wink. "Naming the Domination System", pp51-59 Download in Adobe Acrobat
  • "The Church and the Powers" pp164-168 Download in Adobe Acrobat
  • Does not the church do a lot of good mission or charity work already? Read The Parable of Good Works
    • I see no contradictions between justice ministry and mercy ministries (or charity). What is needed is both—they are two feet to get the church walking towards the Kingdom of God.

  • moral Critic of Society (it's not a new idea) 
    • Historical Context:
      • Biblical (OT/NT) (Scripture)
        • 1 Maccabees: This book of the Hebrew Scriptures highlights an important struggle that is not often address in contemporary culture, enculturation. This books highlights the tension between adapting to the dominant culture and remaining faithful to the teachings of the Torah. With the harsh rule of the Seleucids, the delicate balance was tipped. Eventually, the Maccabees rise up in an armed revolt against the Seleucid government. We will mainly just be highlighting the tension of enculturation within a dominant culture and what it means to be counter-cultural in this context.
        • Jesus--(As seen through Wink) Turning your cheek becomes an active nonviolent strategy for social change. However it is a deeply contextualized response to a specific problem.
      • Selected history in Christian History(Tradition)
  • Why hasn't the church been more active in political life?
    • Perception
      • The church has never been active in political life.
      • The Contemporary notion of "Traditional" 
        • The notion of traditional the way the church is in the world has a short memory only stretching back to the mid 20th century.
        • The apolitical church
        • Spirit/Mind split
    • A biblical theme reborn: The church in the world but not of it. (Kosmos: The Domination system ) (read Naming the Domination System, pp51-59 Download in Adobe Acrobat )
    • What is ethical action grounded on:
      • Deontological: From a strict deontological point of view, moral decisions should never be made on the basis of the likely outcomes of actions, since the worth of these outcomes is completely irrelevant to the question of moral obligation. What is relevant is the nature of the action itself. Certain types of action-such as the involuntary use of a person's remains, are wrong regardless of their outcomes, according to the deontologist. The aim of deontological theory is to define the basic normative principles that provide sound justification for ethical position.
      • Teleological: This form of thought looks at the ends. Ethically, it is assessing right or wrong in relation to the ends to which actions lead. The purpose of this moral judgment is to bring about what is good in the world, and avoid what is bad or evil. The task of the teleological ethical theory is to define in explicit terms the principle behind consequentialist moral judgment, and resolve some fundamental issues concerning its application.
      • Utilitarianism: This idea can be summarized in the phrase: best possible action for the largest amount of people.
      • What essential biblical or Christian values do you ground your life/church.
        • Christian Hope: I do not know where I am going but I know how to get there.
        • The Christian values of love, compassion, rightnessness, justice are the guides to the journey of building the kingdom.
      • Suggestion criteria for ethical action:
        • What is your context and the context of the moral situation?
          • (Gender, Race, Sexuality, Socio-Economic status, Religion, Region, Etc).
        • What are the normative principles that provide criteria for moral judgment applicable in a range of moral situation?
        • What are the moral intuitions, or basic moral sentiment and viewpoints, which come into play when we reflect upon a particular moral situation?
        • What are the factual beliefs pertaining to morally relevant factors in the moral situation
  • Proposed Ecclesiology (the way the body of Christ should... could be in the world): If individuals or a church truly took my thoughts seriously the church would be a new creation. Such a new credo would be followed in the inclusive actions of justice-love that Jesus Christ embodies. Jesus would be seen as the fulfillment of human potentiality because Jesus confronted and challenged the world with new possibilities of love and justice. Jesus did this by repeatedly breaking the social norms of his time, such as: eating with tax collectors and sinners, healing leapers, talking to the Samaritan woman, inviting the lame and outcast back into right relationship with the rest of the God's community. With this theological foundation it follows that Jesus is calling for society to be radically transformed.This community of faith knows that it is the church where this transformation should be enacted. The church is called to loving action, situating itself on the side of the poor, the oppressed, and the oppressor, protesting against any injustices. The church is called by God to be an extension of the incarnation by revealing God through the proclamation of Jesus in our society. In this revealing, God, through Jesus, is proclaimed, and the church becomes a counter-force in the world (Suchocki 118). When this community of faith truly does proclaim Jesus and does become a counter-force for love and justice, social transformation takes place though countless hours of hard work. Thus, the church takes the role of herald and servant, proclaiming and living by example.The role of the individual is important because the community of faith consists of many individuals in local communities. In thinking about the individual in the life of this community of faith, I remember an embodied example of something my parents taught me as a child. I was instructed to clasp my hands with my fingers pointing inwards, to make a church steeple with my index fingers, and then a church door with my thumbs. One saying that is attached with this action is: The church is not a building. The church is not a steeple. The church is the people. The church is the people and the people from our tradition! As this community of faith moves forward in the world, it respects its past. Individuals take traditions from the past and give them new light through personal encounter with contemporary encounters with society. As with most things, the real work of this community of faith happens on a person-to-person level. Thus, the body of Christ that I am suggesting is one where individuals actively participate in their own community, take reasonability for their members, and respect each other's individuality. This involves a practice or a discipline that enables a new community of faith an identity encouraging mutuality and active participation. This practice means that all are included at the round table of the church and that each person's opinion counts (Rasmussen 162). As persons fully participate in the life of the faith community, many voices of differing experiences are heard, and this community becomes a haven for all. It is not a haven where the Christian can come and turn off her or his brain and not deal with society but a haven which illustrates how society can and ought to be. In this vision, the church is best described as a catalyst. If the church is to illustrate--embody how society should be, and be catalyst then the next natural step of this identity of the church is that the church should be the moral critic of society. The church as moral critic influences the state to be the moral proxy in our secular democratic capitalist market system. In doing so, the church becomes a place where community is central and following the way of Jesus Christ is the way of life. As the church lives out the sacramental embodiment of what it means to be the body of Christ, the way of life of loving inclusive justice and compassion spreads to those coworkers, friends, and family members who are not part of the community of faith.

December 7, 2001 ~ Last Updated:  July 15, 2006
Created by Fisher Creative Concepts