Stuffing the church into the closet of gnosticism

In his collection of essays “What are people for?” Wendell Berry makes some really good comments about the church, especially the modern American church. I am paraphrasing here and mixing in my own thoughts.

Bowing to economics is a driver of gnosticism. If the church is prevented from ever talking about economics and politics, then the only thing left are “spiritual” topics. We must be able to talk about money, commerce, etc. We can’t just leave this stuff to the central banks and the capitalists to handle. Nor can we leave it to the state to handle. We, the ecclesia, must deal with these things head on. They are a huge part of the world we live in. To ignore them or only discuss them on a small personal level is to marginalize ourselves and stuff the gospel into a very small box.

A lot of people are critical of “feeling-oriented” churches – ones that focus too much on emotional music, impassioned preaching, or hugs and not so much on theology, responsibility or the “meat” of the word. Interestingly, Berry doesn’t see this as directly church leader’s fault. They are just responding naturally to a demand that has presented itself. It is tied to deeper problems. For these churches to even be around we all must have first kowtowed to the dominant economic engine of science and technology. With the bulk of the tangible things out of the way, the only thing the church has left to be there for are people’s personal existential needs and individual’s salvation. Those things are indeed very important still, but we’ve bitten off a rather small piece of the whole of life.