The Church exists in thefirst place…:What Temple Really Said, Part 2 (or, The Most Famous Thing Temple Never Said, Part 3)

Apparently today the church comemorates William Temple. But the church does him a grave injustice with the famous thing he didn’t say. Read what he really said about the church.

Past Christian

An army does not exist for the soldiers who compose it, you ask them! An army exists for the sake of the nation to which the soldiers belong. It is not for their sake that there is an army;it is for the sake of the nation and the cause which it has espoused.  So the church exists in the first place, not for those of us who are its members, but for the Kingdom of God. (William Temple, Issues of Faith, 1917, pp. 21-22)
This is probably the quote closest to the mistaken meme that makes the Facebook rounds and is responsible for the tetchy emails I get.  As I said earlier, it is more nuanced, complex, and generous than the little sound-byte with which most people are familiar.  It deserves some thoughtful unpacking.
First of all, it gives lie to the idea that Temple thought the only society…

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