There are a number of our Lord’s teaching stories that have to do, I believe, not only with individuals, but institutions. One is that of the prosperous farmer who thinks his success relieves him of the tiresome necessity of doing business with God. He decides to pull down his barns and build bigger ones to store his accumulated wealth, henceforth doing what he pleases. Another is that of the unjust steward who, when told that he is about to be discharged, calls the master’s debtors and strikes bargains with them, radically reducing their accounts so that when he is put out on the street they will owe him favors, thus assuring his survival.
The first story applies to a good many institutions with endowments, not because endowment as a form of stored wealth for continued operation in lean times is evil, but because as a matter of fact they often stand in the collective mind of the enterprise as protection against the direct action of a God who might otherwise tell it, “Thou fool, this night shall thy soul be required of thee!”
The second represents the mind of churches, schools, and other Christian agencies that are losing their grip on the faith they once guarded and advanced. For them, dealing with the Master’s debtors usually takes the form of becoming partisans of the Nice God, the God of Greatly Reduced Accounts, whose religion is nowhere as stark, bloody, and demanding as that of one’s less enlightened ancestors. These institutions are kept alive by those who appreciate this form of religion, since they have a strong personal interest in having it called “Christianity,” at least for a generation or two.
THIS ARTICLE ONLY AVAILABLE TO SUBSCRIBERS.
FOR QUICK ACCESS:
S. M. Hutchens is a Touchstone senior editor.
Get six issues (one year) of Touchstone PLUS full online access including pdf downloads for only $39.95. That's only $3.34 per month!
Get a one-year full-access subscription to the Touchstone online archives for only $19.95. That's only $1.66 per month!
Order Touchstone subscriptions in bulk and save $10 per sub! Each subscription includes 6 issues of Touchstone plus full online access to touchstonemag.com—including archives, videos, and pdf downloads of recent issues for only $29.95 each! Great for churches or study groups.
Transactions will be processed on a secure server.
more from the online archives
calling all readers
"There are magazines worth reading but few worth saving . . . Touchstone is just such a magazine."
—Alice von Hildebrand
"Here we do not concede one square millimeter of territory to falsehood, folly, contemporary sentimentality, or fashion. We speak the truth, and let God be our judge. . . . Touchstone is the one committedly Christian conservative journal."
—Anthony Esolen, Touchstone senior editor