Plan B: The Church (John Caputo)

In preparing for a sermon the other day I came across one of my favorite quotes from John Caputo’s book, “What Would Jesus Deconstruct?” (see also here):

“The name of ‘Jesus’ is too often a mirror in which we behold our own image, and it has always been easy to spot the sliver in the eye of the other and miss the two-by-four in our own. The question presupposes the inescapable reality of history and of historical distance, and it asks how that distance can be crossed. Or better, conceding that this distance cannot be crossed, the question resorts to the subjunctive and asks how that irreducible distance could be made creative. How does our distance from Jesus illuminate what he said and did in a different time and place and under different historical circumstances? And how does Jesus’ distance from us illuminate what we must say and do in the importantly different situation in which we find ourselves today? The task of the church is to submit itself to this question, rather than using it like a club to punish others. The church, the archive of Jesus, in a very real sense is this question. It has no other duty and no other privilege than to bear this memory of Jesus and ask itself this question. The church is not the answer. The church is the question, this question, the gathering of people who are called together by the memory of Jesus and who ask this question, who are called together and are put into question by this question, who stand accused under the call, interrogated and unable to rescue themselves from this question, and who come to understand that there are no easy, ready-made, prepackaged answers.”

(John Caputo, What Would Jesus Deconstruct? 2007, 34)

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Wess

...is the William R. Roger Director of Friends Center and Quaker Studies at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC., PhD in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary, served as a "released minister" at Camas Friends Church, and father of three. He enjoys sketchnoting, sharing conversation over coffee with a friend, listening to vinyl and writing creative nonfiction.

2 thoughts on “Plan B: The Church (John Caputo)”

  1. See, I read this and I want to say "Hey John, what are you really talking about?" This talk of planks, this talk of using church as clubs, this insistence that church is only questions… There's a story here. A life story, a rich story, literature of the everyday. John, who was clubbed? John, who's claiming they have ready-made answers?

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