Church and State in the Modern Age: A Documentary History

By J. F. MacLear | Go to book overview

even destroys, the internal freedom of church life. The breakdown of theological pluralism leads to intellectual infantilism, makes free theological discussion impossible, and poisons the atmosphere of brotherly love.

Yet diaconia, which emerges from the Gospel, represents a vital sign of church life in the healing of physical and mental debility, and also in the sense that, in church life, no one rules the other, but everyone lives and serves with self-denying love for the benefit of others.

2. We confess that the life of the church is rooted in the congregations. It follows from this that: all general church activities must be examined and developed from the viewpoint of congregational activity; there must be a search for a way out of the disintegrating, traditional church structure towards a new form of life; there must be a reconsideration of the structural organisation of our church. We consider it necessary to simplify and decentralise the judicial structure, and that the election of leaders at every level should be carried out without outside influence, within a prescribed time, and with the possibility of recall.

3. We consider it extremely important, from the point of view of the present and the future of our church, to examine the theoretical and practical implications of secularisation. We have to face this world-wide phenomenon, which in our country is combined with ideological atheism, so that we can give the people of our church the help so far denied them.

* * *

4. We confess that the church carries within it a responsibility for the whole created world, and for that nation within whose political boundaries it lives. The Church practises its political responsibility by proclaiming God's word and through the activities of its institutions, as well as through the service of individual Christians within the community. We consider it offensive to the identity of the church anywhere in the world, that the church and its official representatives should be forced into active political life and the exercise of direct power, political decisionmaking, and the taking up of particular political standpoints. Participation in political life is the individual freedom and responsibility of every Christian -- including those holding office in the church -- as citizens of the state.

5. We suggest that as soon as possible national conferences should be organised in which -- by voluntary application -- any member of our church may take part, and where, in a responsible manner and in an atmosphere of brotherhood and freedom, we can deal with the above-mentioned and other questions concerning the church.

Source: Religion in Communist Lands, Vol. XIII, No. 1 ( 1985), pp. 98-102; Vol. XIV, No. 3 ( 1986), pp. 330-331.


SUGGESTIONS FOR BACKGROUND AND REFERENCE

Broun, Conscience and Captivity. Religion in Eastern Europe ( Washington, D.C., 1988), pp. 127-160.

-497-

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