Milbank on Church (and Worship) as Politics (II)

“I’m very much in a tradition of Anglican thinkers going back to John Neville Figgis who have insisted that the church is the purpose of salvation, it’s not just the collection of believers or the saved. The church is the realization of salvation, because the church is the realization of reconciliation, ultimately b/t everybody. Ultimately the church is, as the Eastern Orthodox stress, bigger than the cosmos, because it’s the cosmos linked to God and returned to God. So church for me is a very big reality. It’s the site of the true human sociality. So, again, very much in the tradition of Anglican socialism I tend to see the church itself as the political vehicle. You don’t need a political party, b/c the church has a social purpose that goes beyond the political understood in the normal sense, because it’s not just about equal sharing and punishing wrongdoers. It’s about forgiveness and reconciliation and restoring and giving superabundantly to each other. So it involves some kind of social purpose that can’t be fully realized in this world but can to some extant and goes beyond the social purpose and the political purpose of the state, so much so that even ideally state functions should be minimalized in relation to ecclesiastical functions. The more we had real church in our economic practices, in our social practices … the less you would need these state functions. Liturgy also is crucial here: the sense that worshipping God is the true social purpose and that everything, all our economic activities are ultimately oriented to making the true worship of God in the kind of ritual patterns of the daily life that come to a head in what happens in a church. Without a sense of what binds us together you don’t have a real society.” — John Milbank, in an invterview which you can listen to here.

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