Aug 23, 2017
This is not a lengthy treatment of ecclesiology, but rather a conversation about how our pursuit of 'obedient nations' will affect our understanding of what the church IS and about what the church DOES. So much has emerged in recent years about our understanding of the church, and I personally believe some of this certainly has to do with post-modernity and the crashing of the gods of modernity, but it also has to do with other elements of this age, and the fact that we are globalized, very 'glocal' in our understanding of what the church IS and DOES. Of course we always have to understand that the 'church' is a global, universal Body and Bride of Christ, but it is also a local fellowship or a conglomeration or collective of churches like denominations or, a 'national church.' In my book's rough draft, I say, in some ways we're ready for this obedient nations mandate today, in part because the church is smaller than it was in the past: both by, 1. UNITY ... I believe we have many signs today, in part because of the age in which we're living ...that the church local and global is much more unified that its been in a long time. 2. SIZE. a longer discussion, but I also see much frustration, certainly in North America, with, as Wolfgang Simson says, "church-as-we-know-it--CAWKI." But I see it rather culminating in what was the big elephant in the room, and that is, our very best and brightest megachurches are NOT producing disciples and even the classic "program" is really not meeting people's most basic felt needs--of community, actual worship, intimacy with God, and certainly the ministries which the CPMs seem to boast constantly about (healings and other ministry times, everyone participating, etc.). That is part of what I believe is the popularization of the statement: "I'm not religious, but I am spiritual." It's frustration with the organized faith, the plethora of denominations, the ongoing battles about doctrine, long after most people have decided their faith is not primarily a cognitive and doctrinal thing, but a "matter of the heart." I do see signs of hope in the very small 'church-planting movements' or 'disciple-making movements' most often happening in the much tougher environments, like the Muslim world and/or throughout parts of North India or East Africa. I say, "the Church is smaller than we thought" in part thanks to Patrick Johnstone's great little book about the church being bigger than we thought. My response is a bit of a play on words, and, while I do agree with almost everything Patrick says in his great little book, I do see the future has having a very significant 'growth' of the global Body of Christ, to the degree that the church achieves greater unity and a strategy of smallness--in order to see the organic nature of the ecclesia return in our day. Does anyone have comments or a conversation they'd like to engage--on this topic of how our pursuit of obedient nations will have some affect on the nature and activities of the church?
Aug 23, 2017
Personally, I avoided eschatology for quite awhile, even as I studied this topic of 'obedient nations.' But, in the 'end,' my hand was forced. Eschatology is very much a part of this discussion. Like so many others, as a teenager, I read Hal Lindsay's Late, Great Planet Earth, and though we did not discuss it much, I knew that, as Evangelicals, we were at least mildly dispensational pre-millennials. Clearly, we need not talk long about "O.N."s before our thinking of this age--and what our Father's passions are "for this age." For me, as a mild dispensationalist (and someone who was quietly shelving much of a prior set of eschatological assumptions), the fascinating process I went through was simply going back to Scripture, and reading many passages again, with a new set of lenses, in part because of this overriding passion that the "missio-Dei" clearly seemed to include, for this age, actual obedience of whole nations, not just the populating of heaven with millions of lost souls. Once that notion took hold of me, it was asking--by proxy--many questions about my view of God's passion and then predictions/prophecies concerning this age. I have two questions for this discussion at present: 1. How has YOUR eschatology shifted in recent years--as it relates directly to this "O.N."s discussion? This is NOT a generic eschatology question, but am looking for ways your understanding of this age--and our future, has evolved, directly in association with our great commission and, specifically, the O.N. perspective on it. 2. In light of #1, do you see a systemic or larger approach to eschatology which ties best to this theme of an O.N. outcome "in this age?"