Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.


What good is the institutional church?

I have often said that I don't really like organized religion, but I sincerely believe that it beats disorganized religion. That sounds flipant, but I mean it. Then I ran across this quote from Eugene Peterson that offers an interesting and perhaps helpful image even while acknowledging the apparent lack of life in an institution:
What other church is there besides institutional? There’s nobody who doesn’t have problems with the church, because there’s sin in the church. But there’s no other place to be a Christian except the church. There’s sin in the local bank. There’s sin in the grocery stores. I really don’t understand this naïve criticism of the institution. I really don’t get it.

Frederick von Hugel said the institution of the church is like the bark on the tree. There’s no life in the bark. It’s dead wood. But it protects the life of the tree within. And the tree grows and grows. If you take the bark off, it’s prone to disease, dehydration, death. So, yes, the church is dead but it protects something alive. And when you try to have a church without bark, it doesn’t last long. It disappears, gets sick, and it’s prone to all kinds of disease, heresy, and narcissism.
-Eugene Peterson
What do y'all think?

The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor



  • At 1/14/2008 6:28 AM, Blogger goodfornowt said…

    "There’s sin in the local bank. There’s sin in the grocery stores."
    If the sin in the bank is financial irregularity, or the sin in the grocery store is lack of proper hygiene, you might take your business elsewhere. So what if the sin in your local church is a failure to be Christ-like, or even grown-up, in relation to its members, and you come to the conclusion that the sin is systemic?

  • At 1/14/2008 6:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Dear, Dear Priests,

    The questions you pose are way too deep for my Monday morning. :)

  • At 1/14/2008 10:27 AM, Anonymous The searcher said…

    Consider this: is it possible that one of the reasons the church continues to experience so many unspiritual problems is because we are trying to force what God designed to exist and function as a community to exist and function like an institution?

    The church is a community, a community that places its faith in Jesus, that exists in the love of God, and that loves and cares for all community members as they seek to share Jesus with others.

    Just my thought

  • At 1/14/2008 10:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This very topic is the thing that keeps people from church--the church is sinful. The thought is that the church is perfect. Maybe that's where many have made a mistake.

    The church is always in tension with the world. It is a part of the wheel that is the Kingdom of Heaven--the very Kingdom that is "here but not yet." It is also a part of the wheel of "this present age," the sinful, fallen world.

    These wheels grind together and we are in the tension--but under grace. What do we do here? We repent, confess, worship, glorify, and move towards holiness together as a community of faith.

    I love Eugene Peterson. For another good read, try Under the Unpredictable Plant.


  • At 1/15/2008 6:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Getting it wrong and then asking for forgiveness sounds like the sermon from this past Sunday. Right?

  • At 1/16/2008 6:52 AM, Blogger King of Peace said…

    This past Sunday's sermon, referenced in the comment above, is online here: Baptized Again and Again



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