Trocmé: an irrelevant church

It is not at all surprising, then, that the church has lost its power to witness. True, the church supplies society with honest citizens who carry out their responsibilities. It comforts the poor, whom society neglects. It consoles the dying, for whom medical science has given up hope. But for most Christians today faith amounts to little more than overcoming fear in the face of life’s hardships. And sometimes it does not even go that far! At night, when modern man goes to bed, he no longer prays for his salvation, no longer awaits a kingdom of God, a kingdom he no longer needs, but instead grows impatient because science has not yet succeeded in landing someone on Mars.

Of course, criticizing our current situation is not the answer. It is not the masses who have abandoned the church; rather the church has given up answering the questions people are asking: What will be the outcome of overpopulation: famine or war? What will happen to humanity if nuclear war breaks out? If a totalitarian regime takes over, what will be the future of my country, of my language, of my civilization, and of the moral values they represent? What is the goal of modern science? Will technology free the world from hunger and ignorance or will it enslave us to the computer? What can I do with my limited material and intellectual resources and my dependence on society for my livelihood? How can I provide for the future of my children, improve society, prevent war, or contribute to the establishment of justice and peace?

—André Trocmé, Jesus and the Nonviolent Revolution (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2004; first published in English in 1973), 177.


Great quote from pastor Trocme, one of the Christian heroes of WWII. I was so glad a few years ago when Orbis put this back into print.
Anonymous said…
"no longer awaits a kingdom of God, a kingdom he no longer needs,"

Shouldn't the church be making the case for this "irrelevant" kingdom?

"the church has given up answering the questions people are asking"

Why is the church competent to answer almost any of these questions? He seems to be stuck in chaplaincy mode as much as the typical reformed fellow, answering questions the society poses.


Indeed, Trocmé based on this quote alone could be guilty of subjugating the church's proclamation to the existential needs of our Situation (a la Tillich), but that would be to drastically miss the point. Trocmé, I think, rightly sees that the church's life-as-witness is one that can and must speak to the Situation, even if the church is never bound to address the questions posed by the world. The church should be the presence of God's kingdom in the world, and thus it should answer the questions that the world may not know it needs to ask. And yet never to the exclusion of answering the questions which the world does indeed ask!