Before the Revolution

Before the Revolution

I love this quote by the late theologian Richard Niebuhr.

“Institutions can never conserve without betraying the movements from which they proceed. The institution is static, whereas its parent movement has been dynamic; it confines men within its limits, while the movement had liberated them from the bondage of institutions; it looks to the past, [although] the movement had pointed forward. Though in content the institution resembles the dynamic epoch whence it proceeded, in spirit it is like the [state] before the revolution. So the Christian church, after the early period, often seemed more closely related in attitude to the Jewish synagogue and the Roman state than to the age of Christ and his apostles; its creed was often more like a system of philosophy than like the living gospel.” H. Richard Niebuhr

One of the constant struggles I have with Antioch and Kilns College is the tension between creating an effective and efficient structure on the business side and keeping the raw energy and loose vibe of the movement side.

If these endeavors ever stall out and settle into only institutional frameworks, I don’t want to be involved.

If the Spirit of God is moving and people are being changed and influenced there has to be an element of spontaneity, randomness, big thinking and huge risks. The movement leads to passionate people giving their lives and time away as volunteers simply because they see God’s hand at work.

May the church today be less “like a system of philosophy than like the living gospel.”



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