Resident Aliens

I recently re-read a book titled, Resident Aliens. It’s a book about church and ministry in our present world. I first read the book in graduate school back in the early 90s. It was relevant then, and even more relevant now. Below are a few quotes that I think are particularly relevant. (NOTE: I re-read the book on a tablet, so I cannot footnote the page numbers of the quotes; instead I use the digital “location” to detail where the quote is found.)

  • (Karl) Barth was horrified that his church lacked the theological resources to stand against Hitler (Location 241)…It was a short step from the liberal Christ-the-highest-in-humanity to the Nazi Superman (Location 254)…After the (atomic) bomb, all sorts of moral compromises were easier—nearly two million abortions a year seemed a mere matter of freedom of choice, and the plight of the poor in the world’s richest nation was a matter of economic necessity” (Location 273).
  • “Each age must come, fresh and new, to the realization that God, not nations, rules the world. This we can know, not through accommodation, but through conversion” (Location 294).
  • “The nation state has taken the place of God. Responsibilities for education, healing and public welfare which had formerly rested with the Church devolved more and more upon the nation state. In the present century this movement has been vastly accelerated by the advent of the ‘welfare state.’ National governments are widely assumed to be responsible for and capable of providing those things which former generations thought only God could provide—freedom from fear, hunger, disease and want—in a word: happiness” (Location 372-378).
  • “We are quite literally a people that morally live off our wars because they give us the necessary basis for self-sacrifice so that a people who have been taught to pursue only t heir own interest can at times be mobilized to die for one another…In short, there is nothing wrong with America that a good war cannot cure” (Location 385-392).
  • “All Christian ethics are social ethics because all our ethics presuppose a social, communal, political starting point—the church…The church enables us to be better people than we could have been if left to our own devices…Therefore, we cannot say to the pregnant fifteen-year-old, ‘Abortion is a sin. It is your problem.’ Rather, it is our problem. We ask ourselves what sort of church we would need to be to enable an ordinary person like her to be the sort of disciple Jesus calls her to be…” (Location 1018-1031).
  • “Disciples, as Jesus notes, are to be like salt. Too much salt, ingested in great quantity, leads to gagging and sickness. Small amounts of salt season and delight. Although there may be no particular virtue in the church being small and insignificant (as the world measures size and significance), the church ought to have the honesty to admit we don’t seem to do too well when we are the dominant majority or when we are invited to have lunch with the President at the White House. We Christians have never handled success very well” (Location 1975).
  • “We want to assert, for the church, politics that is both truthful and hopeful…What we want to say it, We are neither liberal or conservative. We are hopeful (Location 2056).

There are many, many more quotes that could be included. But instead of me typing them out, read the book for yourself.

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