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The religious suppose that only the religious know about God or care about God, and that God cares only for the religious. Characteristically, religion is precious and possessive toward God, and institutes and conducts itself as if God really needs religion, as if His existence depends upon the recognition of religion. Religion considers that God is a secret disclosed only in the discipline and practice of religion. But all this is most offensive to the Word of God. The best news of God is that He is not secret. The news of God embodied in Jesus Christ is that God is openly and notoriously active in the world. In this news the Christian Church is constituted; it is this news which the Christian Church exists to spread. Where the Church, however, asserts that God is hidden in or behind creed or ceremony—even those which are decent and which God gladly receives and blesses—or where God is thought to be confined to the sanctuary, then in such events the Christian Church, forsaking the good news of God’s presence in history, becomes vulgar imitation of mere religion. The Church, where faithful to the news, is not the place where men come to seek God; on the contrary, the Church is just the place where men gather to declare that God takes the initiative in seeking men. The Church, unlike any religion, exists to present to the world and to celebrate in the world, and on behalf of the world, God’s presence and power and utterance and action in the on-going life of the world.

William Stringfellow, A Private and Public Faith, 17. (via germerian)

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