How can Jews and Gentiles learn to play nicely together in the...
How do we get the Church back to how it once was?
This is the challenge. It’s a challenge that sweeps through all facets of how we function as members of the Body of Christ. A start was made in Hebraic Church, where we looked at seven areas where there have been major differences between where we are now and where the Church once was. These were my seven theses to be ‘pinned to the door’ of St Paul’s Cathedral, in the manner of Martin Luther and his 95 theses pinned to Wittenberg Cathedral and sparking off the 16th Century Reformation. At one meeting I asked for volunteers to march up to St Paul’s to ‘do the pinning’ and three hands immediately shot up! Of course I was joking … but was I? Yes, a New Reformation of sorts is needed. And the feeling is that this is going to have to come from the grass roots, the ‘laity’, as the impression is that the Church really needs to be dropped on its head to knock some sense into it and those at the top, the ‘clergy’, may not always be in a position to do so.
So what were my seven theses? We started with two concepts that perhaps are at the heart of thinking differently. The first, remember, don’t analyse urges us to seek God, because divine encounters are the best testimonies and better faith builders than any number of clever arguments. The second, function is to be preferred over form, sounds like a mouthful but is brimming over with practical truth. It simply tells us that God created everything for a purpose, a function, especially you and me. Our job, and the job of the Church, is to discover what this function is.
But it goes a lot further than those seven theses. In fact it ought to affect everything … everything we say, think and do in the name of Jesus. This is our journey in these new set of articles.
This is our challenge, then, as it was in the days in Babylonian exile, when Haggai chastised the people in forgetting the ‘good old days’.
‘Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing?’ (Haggai 2:3)
Yes, easier said than done, but not an impossible task. How we go about this is the issue, in fact it’s the ‘holy grail’ of those who want to get the Church back to how it was, ever since Martin Luther posted those ninety five theses at Wittenburg Cathedral to spark off the original Reformation. Since then there have been numerous efforts to return to the pure faith of the original apostles. Some have succeeded, others got close, but the common trait seems to be the ephemeral nature of these initiatives. They never took hold, or they were slowly polluted or subtly corrupted by the nefarious un-holy trinity of the World, the flesh and the devil. Witness the Methodists, the Moravians, the Celtic church, the House Church movement of the 1970s and 80s. A good beginning, but it couldn’t be sustained. The flesh and the devil are always going to be key factors, but this is to be expected. What the Church has consistently been unable to deal with is the World.
In a sense we are hamstrung before we get started. The Greek thinking that lies at the heart of “the World” has been part of Western society, including the Church, for nearly 2,000 years now. Its roots lie deep within us, chopping off the visible branches is not going to do the job. We are taught to think using the logical structures of Aristotle and we order much of our world according to the dualism of Plato. Then there is the variety of worldviews that owe so much to the band of Greek philosophers from ancient days, from Stoics and Hedonists to Epicurianists. This is our world, it’s not going to change overnight. Neither are we.
But we can make a start …
This is an extract from the book, Livin’ the Life, available for £10 at https://www.sppublishing.com/livin-the-life-151-p.asp