By Jens Christensen
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But in our day the Christian philanthropist is usually a highly respected individual occupying an honoured place in the non-Christian community. This is true quite apart from what the prevalent religion is. How has it become possible for the servant to become greater than his Master? How has it happened that they hated the Master but honour and respect His disciple? But the disciple is not honoured and respected because he is a disciple of our Lord, because he is a bringer of Light, the MEANS 19 messenger with a word of reconciliation.
The Church universal has always held that when and where it pleases God the Holy Spirit works faith in man to believe the Gospel. The same truth might be expressed in these words: God’s self-revealing in Christ, although already accomplished, cannot be apprehended by man until, by the working of the Holy Spirit, he becomes capable of apprehending it through faith. Correctly understood, this statement means that the identity of Christ continues to be concealed throughout the ages. When Christ lived on earth He was God incognito, that is, His real identity was concealed.
The case of the Church is parallel. The relationship should be God– Church–Humanity, just as with Israel. However, the moment the Church discovers that it looks foolish in the eyes of the world, and begins to use means, that relationship is changed to Church–Means–Humanity. This catastrophic change may not be so obvious as it was in the case of Israel, but it is just as real nevertheless. For now the Church has been rational and sensible in the judgment of wise men; now the Church can justify itself in the eyes of the world; now non-Christians can ‘understand’ with their own intellect, without the working of the Holy Spirit, without faith, that the Church is a valuable institution.
Mission to Islam and beyond by Jens Christensen