A Jagged Contention: Resisting the Urgency of Things Temporal

Righteous causes may be both good and right, but they are not salutary. The Word of God must have free course and be preached and not be corralled and co-opted by the urgency of things temporal. This is not to advocate for “quietism” on the part of the Church with respect to the temporal kingdom, but for the Church to assume her proper role and function among the temporal orders, which is to proclaim the reign of Jesus Christ crucified, risen, and ascended, who lords His death and resurrection over the entire created order as the One who has all authority in heaven and on earth. The Church in this world is a foreign embassy of the eternal King of kings and Lord of lords at whose name every knee will bow on the Last Day. While the protection of the unborn, the plight of the poor, the proper stewardship of the environment, the cause of the widowed and orphaned, justice for the worker, and the upholding of marriage as the celebration and protection of the one-flesh union of man and woman are all laudable and even godly causes, they dare not deflect from the Church knowing and hearing nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified. While the activists may charge that the Church is fiddling as Rome burns, they need to be reminded that while ancient Rome was falling apart at the seams, the Church was vigorously debating the doctrine of the Trinity and the two natures of Christ. The pastor must ever be on guard, lest the Church lose sight of thing eternal for the sake of things temporal.

– William Cwirla, “Maintaining Law and Gospel in the Liturgy,” in The Necessary Distinction: A Continuing Conversation on Law & Gospel, ed. Albert Collver III, James Arne Nestingen, and John T. Pless. Pgs. 55-56


Question:

What do you make of Pastor Cwirla’s analysis? Are there times when the pastor needs to respond to the pressing needs of the temporal?

One thought on “A Jagged Contention: Resisting the Urgency of Things Temporal

  1. He should tell Jesus to cut it out, then. This is a pretty good case of both-and. People do this stuff because of divine compassion in them. It serves many things, at least one of which is to demonstrate the compassion of God for his children, enacted in his people. I suspect it does much more for the souls of his servants and for the loving relationships that support the evangelization of the world at hand. I think he is grossly mistaken for one so obviously intelligent. On the other hand, losing sight of either pole (service and preaching) would be disastrous.

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