Saturday, May 19, 2007

Box Five

Something I love about two ways to live is that it follows God's big story. Another thing is that it is simple and memorable. But, it's easy to take it individually, i.e. without reference to the church as God's new people under his rule.

The accompanying text is written in plural 'us' language but that's probably just to be inclusive.

The 'church' absence could also be because it's an Anglican invention and according to Mark Dever the Anglican's don't have any ecclesiology - just thinking that church is the plural of Christian (9 marks interview) !!

The 'church' absence might be due to the apparent jump from Genesis 3 to Jesus - without Abraham, Israel and a whole lot of other stuff. Granted you can't say everything in a six box outline the people of God is a pretty big theme in the Bible.

Either way, 'church' looks like a pretty big theme biblically - a people who are Jesus' body, once divided now united in him. Church has a bad reputation with our society but that's not so much a reason to avoid mentioning it, rather it's a good reason to talk very positively about it!

I'm aware as I offer this minor critique that I don't tell anyone any of the gospel anywhere near as much as I could / should. O, that I was more courageous. More compelled. More graced:

"...grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places."


There are two ways we can live, and one message that the heavens and the earth need to hear - as the unsearchably rich Christ builds his church, all things come under his rule!

12 comments:

  1. Woah, I can't believe it, but I'm actually writing in defence of anglicans.

    I guess Dever's comment is true of mamny contemporary anglicans (he actually levels it at John Stott And with him all anglicans) but not of the covenantal and connectional vision of the church we find in anglicanism.

    The problem with anglican ecclesiology (as we find defined in the 1662 prayer book) does not lie in thinking that church = plural of christian; pedobaptism alone proves that anglicanism holds to a covenantal view of church and not an individualistic one, as does episcopal government.

    And Dever has some excellent insights into ecclesiology- especially in the area of membership, but then he goes and spoils all his hard work by some rather strange and unbiblical views on baptism, in practice reducing church membership to a discipleship tool for adults rather than an 'on earth' manifestation of an in heaven reality (since Dever excludes professing under 18 years old from both baptism and church membership). This is inadequate and potentially individualistic and not a little modernistic.

    Sorry, I know this isn't really what yr post was about but I was confused and a little irritated by Dever's comment when i heard it myself a few weeks ago.

    Rant over.

    Good blog and excellent excellent comments about two ways to live. I've used a more plural version of it myself in the past. The gospel is an invitation not just to restored relationship with God but to restored human relationships too (and more) as a consequence. And the church is the 'on earth manifestation' of that restoration - it is a (albeit flawed etc.) sign and foretaste of the consummated new creation.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dever may have a point that sometimes 'we' Anglicans use church too loosely, but as you say - he probably uses it a little too tightly. I was a tad surprised when I heard it on his 9 Marks talk with Ware & Piper, which is well worth listening too.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh Pete.

    "strange and unbiblical views."

    Sigh.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Interesting. The individualism of 2W2L is certainly a problem. I also have a problem with the strictness of its dualism - Gos is clearly active and in contact with the unredeemed parts of His world, and continues to rule, whether or not we notice. I suppose I like a bit of grey area.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Mo, just to clarify.

    by 'strange and unbiblical' I refer not to his credobaptism per se (I think that's unbiblical in it's exclusion of covenant infants but I don't think it's strange) but rather to the particular manifestation of credobaptism as practised at capitol hill.

    It is very hard to biblically justify excluding for example believing 14 year olds from church membership and baptism, in fact it severs the profession-baptism link which is actually the fulcrum of the baptist position in general. I find that sort of practice strange as well as unbiblical and so do many credobaptists I know.

    (I think excluding from baptism and membership children old enough to profess is potentially very damaging too)

    (that said, i think Dever is great in areas x,y,z and loads of what he says is masssively helpful and an insightful corrective to.. u get the idea)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Mike

    I wonder if the kingdom-sovereignty distinction here is helpful?

    i.e. u can be excluded from God's kingdom (his loving-blessing-reign etc.) but never from his sovereign rule and control. When Jesus comes and says 'the kingdom of God is at hand' he is not saying 'hey, God's about to start controlling/ruling the world again' but something rather more specific.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Pete,

    Obviously he's very keen on church discipline and accountability for his congregation. I can't help thinking he's being more careful than he's allowed to be... can we ever ensure that the official membership of a church is totally 'pure'?

    ...but flip-side, how does an Anglican Rev work out caring for his congregation when the boundary is so wide/grey...

    ReplyDelete
  8. ...all of which is somewhat off my own topic which is really - how do we include 'the church' in our gospel proclamation...and i wonder what place the church has as an apologetic for the gospel?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Coming back to the original post....I think the exclusion of connection as part of the Gospel is endemic. I'm speaking on a camp next week for teenagers covering Pentecost - and the great temptation is to omit Acts 2.42-47 but in a sense this is the great climax of the Pentecost sermon - the believers are connected into God's family. So I'm deliberately including it as my final talk - though it might raise a few eyebrows. I wonder too if the aim of Paul and Barnabas' mission in Acts 13-14 is not just to see converts - but converts living in an active family of God - hence their focus on church planting alongside evangelism. In fact, can evangelism really happen unless it has the goal of such connection?

    ReplyDelete
  10. "In fact, can evangelism really happen unless it has the goal of such connection?"

    I guess only in the same sense that evangelism can 'happen' without e.g. the goal of making disciples i.e. badly, but still evangelism (gospel proclamation+to unbelievers+for a response).

    btw, I think we need another (at least one, maybe more) gospel outline for use in evang training and on tracts etc. that takes into consideration the observations on community in this post (and the bible, obviously) as well as maybe

    a. assuming a mild hedonistic world-view as a starting point

    b. not assuming pagans have a sort of 'christianised worldview' where their initial interest in the gospel stems from a feeling that he/she 'needs to be right with God'.

    c. Even more than 2ways2live (which is probably the best on the market for this type of thing) marries biblical with systematic theology (story and proposition).

    After all the gospel is rich and the links between it and people's needs, concerns, questions, failings, fears etc. are multiple.

    ReplyDelete
  11. In fact I've just blogged about it (follow the link from my profile).

    ReplyDelete
  12. I want to see that Acts 2 talk.

    i like the starting point of Piper's QUEST FOR JOY

    Did you know that God commands us to be glad? "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37:4)"

    though I think it suffers the same problem of not reaching the climax of joining the body...

    ReplyDelete