G.K. Chesterton, was a political thinker who cast aspersions on both Progressivism and Conservatism, saying, “The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected”. I can see that all around me, in politics and in the church. Conservatives, despite what the press and Liberals say are usually too nice to try and correct the mess that progressive liberal policies and actions have done to the church and the world.
But Chesterton was also a bright lay theologian and creative Christian writer. The Church is, according to Chesterton, “the trysting place of all the truths in the world.”
A trysting place is where lovers meet. Chesterton was in love with the truth. He was constantly searching for the truth, and as someone has said, to pull this off you have to actually live in the trysting place, which means to live in the truth, which means to live in Christ, which means to live in the Church where Christ has promised to dispense the means of grace. Christ who is the way and the truth and the life dwells with sinners and dispenses to them the means of His grace and mercy in the church.
So I have come to the conclusion that the church is the place where we go to “lose our minds” to be in the truth. Luther said the mind “is the main target of all evils and the one trysting place of sorrow and every ill”. Our minds are the places where the two lovers, sorrow and ill’s meet. We exchange that meeting place for the truth when taken out of the thoughts of ourselves because of the one who gave everything for us. We can live in the truth because Christ who is our life takes us out of ourselves and into him. He does this by gathering His community, His body and bringing to it His gracious presence and forgiveness. When Christ who is the truth has sway in our life we are granted the gift of “self-forgetfulness” . We can paraphrase 1 John3 and say “Even if our minds condemn us, God is greater than our minds and knows all things.”
This doesn’t mean that we are anti-intellectual” or willfully ignorant. It means that we have a healthy respect for what our minds can and cannot do. We could paraphrase 1 Cor 2 as saying “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things that God has prepared for those who love him.” But we get a glimpse of them in church with the gathered community of Christ’s Body in the Divine service. We enter a transcendent place with “angels and archangels and all the company of heaven”.
So when I hear someone say “it is not our job to plant or establish or create a church or to do mercy in connection with that church; it is our job to talk about Jesus”, I wonder if this is a progressive mistake that we conservatives are going to prevent from being corrected, or is this an example of losing more than our minds, but the “mind of Christ”? (Phil 2)