We can all call to mind movements which have begun as pure upsurges of fresh spiritual vitality, breaking through and revolting against the hardened structure of the older body, and claiming, in the name of the Spirit, liberty from outward forms and institutions. And we have seen how rapidly they develop their own forms, their own structures of thought, of language, and of organization.
It would surely be a very unbiblical view of human nature and history to think--as we so often, in our pagan way, do--that this is just an example of the tendency of all things to slide down from a golden age to an age of iron, to identify the spiritual with the disembodied, and to regard visible structure as equivalent to sin.
We must rather recognize here a testimony to the fact that Christianity is, in its very heart and essence, not a disembodied spirituality, but life in a visible fellowship, a life which makes such total claim upon us, and so engages our
total powers, that nothing less than the closest and most binding association of men with one another can serve its purpose.
--Lesslie Newbigin (1909-1998)
The Household of God
Feb 1, 2007