lindbeck

It is important to note the direction of interpretation. Typology does not make scriptural contents into metaphors for extrascriptural realities, but the other way around. It does not suggest, as is often said in our day, that believers find their stories in the Bible, but rather that they make the story of the Bible their story. The cross is not to be viewed as a figurative representation of suffering nor the messianic kingdom as a symbol for hope in the future; rather suffering should be cruciform and, hopes for the future messianic.
—  George Lindbeck, The Nature of Doctrine

For classic hermeneutics, the Hebrew Bible is the basic ecclesiological textbook. Christians see themselves within those texts, when read in the light of Christ, as God’s people, chosen for service not for preferment, and bound together in a historically and sociologically continuous community that God refuses to disown whether it is faithful or unfaithful, united or disunited, in the catacombs or on the throne. It was in some such way as this that the Christians of the first centuries, whom we call catholic, used Israel’s story as a template for their own existence. It was they, not the Marcionite or gnostic Christians, who developed a communal life strong enough to become the great majority and win the Empire, despite their lack of social, economic, intellectual, political or military power.

They were also, however, supercessionists who claimed to have replaced Israel, thus denying that the Jews were any longer, except negatively, God’s chosen people; and they were triumphalists who believed that the Church could not be unfaithful as Israel had been….We can now see that the early Christian errors resulted from self-serving gentile Christian misappropriations of intra-Jewish polemics over Jesus’ messiahship, and that these errors are blantantly opposed to much of the New Testament witness, especially Paul’s. But if these errors are rejected, so I have come to think, Christians can now apply Israel’s story to themselves without supersessionism or triumphalism. The story’s power is undiminished. ‘Oneness in Christ’ gains a concrete specificity that it otherwise lacks. All Christians, wehther Catholics Protestants and Orthodox or African, American and Chinese, belong to a single community of morally imperative responsibility for one another like the members of the early church or contemporary Jews.

—  Lindbeck, “Confession and Community” (in The Church in a Post-liberal Age, pp. 8-9.

…[At the Second Vatican Council,] there was the speech Archbishop Elchinger of Strasbourg gave in St Peter’s on how much Catholics owe to non-Catholics even in matters pertaining to the faith. One of his examples was scriptural scholarship. Roman Catholics, he said, we a great debt to Protestant biblical studies. Second, he spoke of what he called the dogma of justification by faith first defined, as he put it, when the Jerusalem Council referred to in Acts and Galatians exempted Gentile Christians from circumcision and full Torah observance. This central dogma of the Catholic faith, Elchinger continued, has at times been better maintained outside than within Roman Catholicism, and if Catholics are now rediscovering it, it is largely because of the ecclesial communities issuing from the 16th century Reformation.

At these words, to my surprise, I started to cry. Elchinger was in effect saying that Luther was at least in part dogmatically right. I found myself thinking of Abbott Butler’s report from the first Vatican Council ninety odd years before of what had happened when the Austro-Hungarian Bishop Strossmeyer had objected (also in St Peter’s and from much the same spot) to the view of some previous speakers that all the ills of hte modern world, atheism, anarchism, and repudiation of Christian morality, had stemmed from the Reformation. “We must remember,” Strossmeyer said, “that there are millions of Protestants who truly love the Lord Jesus.” As he spoke, cries of “heresy,” “blasphemy,” “come down, come down,” grew so loud that he was forced to leave the podium. The contrast between then and now was what made tears of joy roll down my cheeks. It is the only time I have wept in public except at funerals.

—  Lindbeck in 1993 (“Reminisces of Vatican II,” in The Church in a Postliberal Age, 17-18.)
The fundamental role of Christians, individually and collectively, is to witness to this Kingdom in the power of the cross as suffering servants of mankind just as did their Lord. Christians need not worry if they fail to convert large numbers; they can live as a little flock. They can cheerfully leave the question of visible success to God, knowing that he wills to use their witness in apparent defeat as in apparent victory. Faithfulness is all, and faithfulness involves the concern of the Good Samaritan for every kind of human need and suffering. The Church must stand with the poor and the oppressed against the rich and the oppressors, not only here in the United States, but everywhere. It must side with the under-developed nations against the complacency and irresponsibility of the affluent, so-called Christian ones. And it must do so in the power of the cross, as a suffering servant, in the spirit–to cite our greatest contemporary example–of Martin Luther King. It must, in other words, stand for justice and human dignity and reconciling love for all men, including the oppressors, not for hatred or violence. This is the most difficult part of its ministry because the community or person who fights, really fights for true humanity will be met with implacable hostility, and to refuse, absolutely refuse the counter-force and counter-hostility under these circumstances leads inevitably to a kind of inner death, and perhaps an outer one as well. Only what we have called a sectarian Church can do it. Only a community of fanatics will battle for reconciliation and true humaneness despite loss of numbers and of social acceptability.
—  Lindbeck, “Ecumenism and the Future of Belief,” in The Church in a Postliberal Age, 102-103.
The reformatory power of the Reformation unfolded only as whole communities became habituated to reading the Bible in the Reformation way, and something similar is necessary for ecumenism. A Dutch pastor once told me that the best parish he had ever had was one in which the people knew their Bibles and the Heidelberg catechism and read one in the light of the other. Over and over again when visiting members he was challenged to relate his liberal and ecumenical sermons to that foundation. He learned to do this, and his congregation responded, but even more important, he said, his liberalism and ecumenism became much more solidly and effectively Christian. What Christian unity needs more than anything else, I suspect, is the multiplication in all the traditions of congregations similarly steeped in the sources, yet reading them not only in Reformed, Lutheran, Pentecostal, Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox ways, but also in terms of something like the Lima document on Baptism, Eucharist and Minister. It is only when the Bible is studied assiduously and communally within ecumenical rather than divisive interpretive frameworks that we can expect ecumenism to acquire the force of the Word of God.
—  Lindbeck, “The Reformation Heritage and Christian Unity,” in The Church in a Post-liberal Age, 74.
In our increasingly secularized world, what was belief for the parents becomes cherished but insubstantial rhetoric for the children and then is repudiated by the grandchildren as hypocritical. The grandchildren may recognize that this leaves a vacuum in their lives…but still Christianity and the Church are dead for them. I am inclined to think, therefore, that also here in the United States, following the European example, the defection from even the external trappings of religion will soon become statistically evident and will proceed with accelerating speed in the next generations. If any churches continue to hold the masses of conventional believers who now fill them, it will be because they have carried the present suburban pattern even further, turning into social clubs whose religious and Christian character is as superficial as that of the Masons.
— 

Lindbeck, “Ecumenism and the Future of Belief” (Una Sancta 25 (1968), pp. 3-17), in The Church in a Post-Liberal Age, p. 95.

I’m reminded of Bonhoeffer writing in 1930-31 from NYC about his experiences with American churches, as quoted on Faith and Theology: “And in the place of the church as the congregation of believers in Christ there stands the church as a social corporation. Anyone who has seen the weekly program of one of the large New York churches, with their daily, indeed almost hourly events, teas, lectures, concerts, charity events, opportunities for sports, games, bowling, dancing for every age group…”

Politically pragmatic liberalism may be practically necessary in pluralistic societies, but as an individualistic secular ideology it is no more viable in the long run than its illiberal counterparts. Societies need strong mediating communities through which traditions of personal virtue, common good and ultimate meaning are transmitted to new generations. It is hard to see how such communities can flourish without a religious dimension, and in traditionally Christian lands, that means a Christian one.
—  Lindbeck, “Confession and Community” (in The Church in a Post-Liberal Age, p. 7).
I once welcomed the passing of Christendom and found Richard John Neuhaus’s demurrers misplaced; but now, as I earlier mentioned, I am having uncomfortable second thoughts. The waning of cultural Christianity might be good for the churches, but what about society? To my chagrin, I find myself thinking that traditionally Christian lands when stripped of their historic faith are worse than others. They become unworkable or demonic. There is no reason to suppose that what happened in Nazi Germany cannot happen in liberal democracies, though the devils will no doubt be disguised very differently. From this point of view, the Christianization of culture can be in some situations the churches’ major contribution to feeding the poor, clothing the hungry and liberating the imprisoned. So it was in the past and, given the disintegration of modern ideologies, so it may be at times in the future. Talk of ‘Christian America’ and John Paul II’s vision of a 'Christian Europe’ make me uncomfortable, but I have seen a number of totally unexpected improbabilities come to pass in my lifetime, such as Roman Catholic transformations and communism’s collapse, and cannot rule these out as impossible.
—  George Lindbeck, “Confession and Community: An Israel-like View of the Church,” The Christian Century 107 (6 May 1990), pp. 492-6. (From The Church in a Postliberal Age, ed. James J. Buckly, 2002, p. 7.)