the shape of the church

April 13, 2008

today has been a day of afternoon coffee, quick trips to the local market, dinner with junior highers, and hanging with an old friend at a burger joint.  it’s also been a day of rapid heartbeats, tired eyes, a persistent cough, and first contact with what my immediate future may hold.  a good day overall, but one that won’t leave me completely comfortable.

i ran across this article on open source theology (see sidebar).  for some reason it keeps running around in circles in my head.  Andrew P touches on all the issues i care about–church, scripture, poverty, community, change–but i am unsure whether i agree with how he draws the connections.  the source of this ambivalence lies in an earlier post, we have to go back, but not to square one.  what is at stake is not the evangelical commands of poverty, chastity, and obedience; rather it is the relationship of our following of Jesus to Jesus’ first disciples’ following.

shane claiborne’s irresistible revolution, the jumping off point for the article, proposes a radical, prophetic shape to our following Christ.  it looks like dropping out of the system and trying to live out the kingdom here and now, a premonition of the way things are going to be in the end.  without ever discounting claiborne’s model, andrew p suggests that it cannot function the longterm shape of the church.  the church is not always prophetic to this degree, not always negatively defined by the status quo death-money-power institution.  he offers a vision of the church more shaped by the resurrection new life revealed at Easter than by Jesus’ confrontation with power.  the two models are not mutually exclusive, for both contain a prophetic and eschatological witness.  but there is enough space between the two to provoke some serious thought.

read the two articles, check out shane’s book (if you haven’t already), and let me know your thoughts.


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