Featured Author - Rev. Pavel Černý, ThD

Dr Černý is a pastor, seminary tutor, missiologist and ecumenical worker. He teaches at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Prague, Czech Republic and lectures at various missiological and ecumenical conferences. His article “The Church: Relic of the Past or Part of the Gospel Story?” appears in the April 2019 issue of the European Journal of Theology.

Summary of the Article “The Church: Relic of the Past or Part of the Gospel Story?”

This article is a practical-theological discourse about the appearance and the importance of the Church. For many who are interested in Christianity, there are different obstacles in the form of the institutional Church and organised religion. We cannot avoid the fact that the Church does not have a favourable reputation in our society. Not just for people watching her from the outside, but even the mere existence of the Church sometimes creates a problem for our individualistic society. This trend was fostered in the 1960s and ‘70s when the Church was overlooked and rejected by theologians of various Christian traditions, including for example adherents of Liberation Theology. The Church was sometimes understood as a deformed expression of a certain entity that should in reality be the Kingdom of God.

However, the teaching of Jesus in the Gospels gives the Church quite an important role, and the focus of the New Testament Epistles is church planting and building. In spite of all critical comments and distortions of the past and the present, I will argue that Christianity cannot exist without the Church. The Church is not a relic of the past but a substantial part of the gospel. We are allowed to seek a contextualised expression of the Church, but not to avoid her altogether. She is not an invention of Christians; she is the beloved bride of Christ that plays an important role in the plan of salvation and a crucial role in interpreting the Scriptures.