|This Building Fair|
This present volume is an attempt to work out the theme of its title essay and its accompanying poem, 'This Building Fair'. The 'Building' is, of course, the church, but not a church simply typified by a local congregation and its ecclesiastical buildings, but that miracle and mystery planned by Christ when he said, 'I will build my church'. The New Testament writers delight to show it as the warm palpable body of Christ in which all its members are interrelated and interdependent. To them it is the Bride, the Flock of Christ, the 'Building Fair' which is composed of living stones, bonded together as a dynamic Temple which is not localised-though it has its local manifestations-but which works across all lands, penetrates into all systems of thinking and living, sets forth the worship of God uniquely, and is 'the house of prayer for all nations'.
The implications of this 'Building Fair' are many, and they are wonderful. They also confront the entirety of our human living on this planet. The confrontation is historical, functional, spiritual, and moral. The church is the creation of the Triune Godhead, and its goal is the glorification which God will give to it, by means of which it will for ever glorify God as 'a kingdom of priests'. In this book, then, I have tried to work out some of the implications of the living church, and some of the ramifications of its operations. The long essay on 'Knowing the Kingdom' has been written to show the nature of the Kingdom of which the church is the present agent in this world. The Kingdom of God is powerful in itself, being the active sovereignty of God working out in history, and yet the church has been chosen to proclaim it via 'the Gospel of the Kingdom'. For that reason we need to clarify the nature of the Kingdom in our minds, and come to participate in it in our living. Some may find the essay tedious because of its length, but it should prove worthwhile to persist in reading it. The personal nature of being God's people-as the church-is worked out in essays such as 'Man and His Holiness', 'The Justified Men and the Great Peace', 'What was, and is, and is to Come', and 'All Things are Yours'. Again, these essays make demands of persistence and application upon the reader. Basic to the theology of the book is the essay entitled 'The Blood'.
This Building Fair is the fifth in a list of titles which have a strong Christian flavour, and are composed of essays, stories and poems. The format of essays, stories and poems is really a pioneer venture, and has been well received. This is perhaps because its different ingredients appeal to differing tastes. In these books-including the present one-are stories which in fact are didactic. They teach something under the guise of seeming fiction, and by the aid of a certain irony of writing which is 'tongue-in-cheek'. There are also poems, and in my estimation poems are one of the best mediums for communicating theological truth, without being tied down to proofs, footnotes and documentation. Although theology is certainly of the mind yet it is primarily of the heart, and the richest human communication is that of heart to heart. I keep saying in various Forewords that in these present decades we are declining in our reading. This is generally true. We are conditioned into developing 'digest' minds, and if what we read does not immediately stimulate us we become critical of it. If it requires thought and attention we reject it. Many Christians despise the mind and think anything of the intellect is unspiritual. We need minds which will concentrate on reading and study. The very fact that the Bible is a book-or, the Book-should teach us that writing is God's way of speaking to the human race. So with our writing about the Writings: it should be thoughtful, and express the truth. Laying this truth up in our minds is what makes us rich, especially for the days that will otherwise prove barren.
Really, what I am saying is, 'Persist with this book. It is not written in an easy, popular style, but do not give up. Try to let the message of the poems, stories and essays come through, and you may find the exercise richly rewarding.' I am sure that if we ban flimsy reading, light literature, and escapist entertainment, then we may find something of genuine value and lasting effects. It, in fact, can be entertainment at its best level. I trust so, and commend, now, your attention to this variety of items.