Week 9 – Fuellenbach Ch. 8

November 23, 2007

Again the question of identity captures my attention: “The identity of the church depends ultimately on its kingdom consciousness based on scripture” (219). Often in history, the church has defined itself by contrast to whatever is outside it: the us/them binary. We are the kingdom, and everything outside that boundary is other, secular, not holy and not part of the kingdom. As we’ve discovered this quarter, the kingdom of God is not in any way limited to the church, though the church is certainly part of the kingdom. When defining ourselves as the church, if we want to be an icon of the Trinity and point to the kingdom of God, we have to look to scriptural models. The aspects of the emerging churches we talked about in class Wednesday are exactly that kind of scriptural model I mean. To be part of the kingdom is to be part of the Missio Dei, pointing toward Jesus always, looking for where He is working and joining in. When we define the church in these terms instead of who comes into our buildings on Sunday mornings, we’ll be a lot closer to an accurate identity as the church that furthers the kingdom of God.

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2 Responses to “Week 9 – Fuellenbach Ch. 8”

  1. bethannpinney said

    Laura, I certainly agree with the thread of your discussion here. But I just have a few thoughts that your writing has sparked. First: What were the “scriptural models of the church” that you speak about? Temple was very much the model of the “church” (meaning the called out people of God) throughout Israel’s history. Later the people of Israel would built the temple in Jerusalem, but we are told that they also set up sites on the mountain tops and went to those places to worship (both God and the baals). By Jesus’ time there was “synagogue” (since not everyone could travel to Jerusalem this was the gathering. Ten or more people made a synagogue–this may be why Jesus said, ‘where two or more are gathered I am there among them). But the synagogue actually was the location for the first church in Acts, that is until the People of the Way were no longer welcome to meet in those places. Thus, they were forced to moved their gatherings to homes, they had no means to build public buildings, and so they met as they could, but necessity and by the hospitality of those who had homes (like Lydia who was probably a woman of wealth). “Church” which is ekklesia in the Greek, means a people called out. Called out of what and into what? The “church” is a people called out of the world and into Christ. That is a binary and there is no way around it. Here is the caveat. Jesus said, the wheat and the tares grow together in the church and will not be separated until his return. I would argue that we should be doing both 1) participating with Christ in the Missio Dei and 2) defining the church as those who gather to confess Christ and commit themselves together to the Mission of God.

  2. lauraknowles said

    When I say “scriptural models,” I’m thinking more broadly than the Temple or synagogue but the examples in scripture of how we are to be followers of Jesus together. The way Jesus lived, what he taught, and the way the early church lived out that teaching with the leading of the Holy Spirit–these are what I think of as “scriptural models” for the church today. Reading the gospel narratives and Acts especially gives us stories to relate to as we seek the leading of the Holy Spirit in our contemporary contexts.

    Also, I don’t think we are called out of the world at all. I think we are called INTO the world. You may very well define a church as “those who gather,” but I would think of “Church” more along the lines of synonymous with the Body or Bride of Christ images we get in scripture. I do think that it’s possible to participate in the Missio Dei and not be part of the Church, but I don’t think we have the knowledge or authority to point out for ourselves the tares or to refuse to acknowledge any wheat that may appear in different forms than we expect from “a church.” But what do you think?

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