Nouwen on Church Crises

When I ask myself the main reason for so many people having left the Church during the past decades in France, Germany, Holland, and also in Canada and America, the word “power” easily comes to mind. One of the greatest ironies of the history of Christianity is that its leaders constantly gave into the temptation of power—political power, military power, economic power, or moral and spiritual power—even though they continued to speak in the name of Jesus, who did not cling to his divine power but emptied himself and became as we are.… Every time we see a major crisis in the history of the Church, such as the Great Schism of the eleventh century, the Reformation of the sixteenth century, or the immense secularization of the twentieth century, we always see that a major cause of rupture is the power exercised by those who claim to be followers of the poor and powerless Jesus.

Henri J. M. Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership (New York: Crossroad, 1989), 58–59.

Might apply to less grandiose situations as well.

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