Eugene Peterson quotes Frederick von Hugel: the institution of the church is like the bark of a tree, dead but necessary.

"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 and 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."

The whole article is really interesting. I uncovered the link as I was downloading all my Gmail messages through POP for archiving purposes.
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2 thoughts on “Eugene Peterson quotes Frederick von Hugel: the institution of the church is like the bark of a tree, dead but necessary.

  1. Joel Zehring says:

    Here’s the Peterson interview: http://goo.gl/ybaC

  2. Daniel Zehring says:

    I like this interview. It was interesting. I didn’t agree with everything, but I thought there was some very practical wisdom going on there. One tricky little turn of phrase that definitely blurred some lines is the way he used this loaded term “church.” I find that in Christian circles we consistently mean two things. One definition focuses on the church as the body of believers as a bunch of Christians together. The other focuses on the church as an organized institution that puts on Sunday mornings and specific gatherings throughout the week. The thing he did was shift definitions without distinguishing intentions. So they seemed to be talking about the living, breathing, group of folks following just and then all of the sudden they were talking about music on Sunday morning. I don’t think the institution of the Church has to be “dead bark” in order to house something healthy. I just think it has to be put in its place and not saddled with the complete responsibility of living out the gospel in culture. That is what the people are for.

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