How did the vibrant life of Jesus among the early church get replaced by a legal and administrative institution fragmented by a distinction between clergy and laity and separated from the real presence of Jesus even as it claimed to celebrate him? I've not read a description of that process any better than the one Emil Brunner, a well-known Swiss theologian and author from the mid-20th century, put into his book, The Misunderstanding of the Church. And it was first published in 1952! He concludes that the living church can only be a communion of persons and nothing else, and our attempts to put it in institutional frameworks has not only robbed Jesus of his essential place in the hearts of people, but also destroyed the kind of relationships that Jesus wanted us to experience together. Wayne reads excerpts from his book that not only explores the causes of institutional spiritual impotence, but also points out how our contemporary attempts to copy the illusion of a New Testament model sucks us into the same trap.
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