The Stuart Highway, near Kulgera NT 2016

Persons and the Church

We may define a person as a creature made in the image of God. This means the person has a 'potentiality for being'. A person does not have a fixed essence of being. A person has the potentiality of becoming an "offspring' of God, or being "adopted into sonship", as the Bible puts it. [Maquarrie, J Principles of Christian Theology pp 231] In Eastern Orthodox terms, they can be 'divinised'.

The church is, of course, multifaceted. But for the purpose of this analysis there is one facet that is important. We could say that the church is a mediator of the ultimate courage to be. Tillich outlines a variety of kinds of courage, which have two main forms. There is courage that comes from participation in something; the courage to be as a part. There is also the courage to be as one's self. If either of these forms of courage are developed to their extreme, the one leads to 'the loss of the self in collectivism' and the other to the 'loss of the world in Existentialism.' [Tillich pp 151] At base, Fundamentalism is courage to be as a part, and leads to a loss of the self in collectivism if carried through consistently by a church.

There needs to be a courage that transcends these two poles of existence. The source of this ultimate courage is God. [Tillich pp 180] A church whose message is devoted to this God

can mediate a courage which takes doubt and meaninglessness into itself. [It is fully able to face the dread that one day we will not be.] It is the Church under the Cross which alone can do this, the Church which preaches the Crucified who cried to God who remained his God after the God of confidence had left him in the darkness of doubt and meaninglessness.
[Tillich p 181-2]

The church thus enables people to fulfil their potential for being.


We see how the courage of Fundamentalism is a limited courage. Using the language of Tillich, we may say that the Fundamentalist limitation placed upon modification of a person's reality construct for understanding the world is a limitation of their potential for being. That is, whilst they consistently adhere to the notion of biblical inerrancy, their potential for being is limited- (at least from the direction of their initiative.)

If Fundamentalism is a limitation of the potential for being , and the church is an enabler of people fulfilling their potential for being, one must conclude that Fundamentalism, as a system, is antithetical to the church.

Next: Definitions

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