This is a dump of my rough notes on Frank Viola's book "Reimagining Church". They are in support of my blog post here. These were gathered using Zotero and a Moleskine notebook. They include lots of quotes from sections that caught my attention and a couple of book references. But they are not completely representative - in some of the most gripping chapters I did not pause to take notes!
Ch 01 Reimagining Church
Organic nature of church
- has big implications
- grows out of itself
- re seeds, plants itself
- systemic organisation and control, not hierarchical
The Trinity as model for the church
p36 quote from Shirley Guthrie and list of features NOT found in the Trinity
Ch 02 Reimagining the Church Meeting
one-anothering p 52
p 58 failure of the Reformation
it recovered the truth of the priesthood of all believers but failed to restore its organic practice. Restricted to soteriology (the theology of salvation) and did not move on to ecclesiology.
vision of the gathering manifesting Christ
p 60 "we gather so that the Lord Jesus can manifest Himself in His fullness. And when that happens, the body is edified.
"Note that the only way the Christ can be properly expressed is if every member of a church freely supplies that aspect of the Lord that he or she has received. ... The Lord cannot be fully disclosed through only one member, He is far to rich for that."
Christ is *assembled* in our midst as each of us is a part of the puzzle and as we fit together in our places .... when this happens Christ is glorified and th principalities and powers are shamed.
And this was the mission of Christ ... to (re)launch His Kingdom back on earth through His creatures together manifesting Him
p59 "the dominant thought in Paul's letters that the church is Christ in corporate expression"
- from human perspective the motivation is mutual edification
- from God's perspective it is manifestation of His Son
p62 participating in an NT church meeting meant giving more than receiving
- in the trad church we go to get entertainment, teaching, as an audience
- in the NT organic church we go to bring and share our experience of Christ
p 62 ff Sustaining force
the trad church has it own sustaining force, the organization, the liturgy, the tradition has its own momentum so it keeps business-as-usual going on its own and is oblivious that that the Spirit of God may have left the building
by contrast the organic NT church is dependent on the driving force of the Spirit. If the spiritual life runs to a low ebb - the church dies.
p61 the image of the Tabernacle of Moses where the sacrifices and rituals continues even though the Lord's Glory had departed ... the empty ritual continued
... how much of our church life has been like that, running empty ritual without the presence of the Spirit of God?
".. the vice of the institutional church lies in its reliance upon humanly devised, program-driven religious system
Ch 05 Reimagining the Family of God
NT has several metaphors for church
- the main one is family
- whereas we often use the business corporation
six aspects of the church as family
1. Members take care of one another
2. Members spend time together
3. Members show affection for one another
- treat one another with affection
4. Family grows
- by addition
- people are looking for authentic community
5. Members share responsibility
6. Reflect the triune God in our relationships
an ancient church description of the fellowship among the Father, Son and Spirit
humanity is to be taken up into this in the end
our fellowship now should begin to take on this nature
Ch 06 Reimagining Church Unity
The church is made up of all whom God has accepted
- any other requirements result in the formation of a sect
the only church we should join is the one Jesus Christ began
unity with unbelievers is also a mistake
- unbelievers in the gathering is quite OK,
-- but unbelievers are not brethren
Early believers saw only one church in each city
Division of the church is rooted in the clergy - laity distinction
- most modern churches exist to give the pastor a platform to exercise his teaching gift
the only basis for Christian fellowship is the body of Christ
NOT organizational relationships
see Unity Through Organism
p.130 saying, "I am a Baptist" (or whatever) is equally reprehensible as those choosing for Paul or Apollos 1 Cor 1:11-13
1 Cor 1:11-13 (NIV)
13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?
Ch 06 case of unity
see pp. 132-133 story of unity - two groups coming together, one charismatic, one Church of Christ. Clashes and disputes. Some left. The remnant agreed to focus on Jesus and lay down everything to do with spiritual gifts.
"From that point on, our entire focus shifted from what we thought we knew about the Holy Spirit to the lord Jesus Christ Himself. We resolved to strip down to Christ alone, and we set our eyes exclusively on Him.
"After about a year, something miraculous occurred. There rose up - out of death, out of the grave in the newness of life - the gifts of the Spirit. But they didn't look like anything we had seen in the Pentecostal/charismatic movement. And they certainly didn't look like anything in the Church of Christ tradition. (All things look different in resurrection.)"
"... if Christians in organic churches are willing to go to the cross and refuse to divide from one another on doctrinal differences, God can knit their hearts and minds together."
Ephesians 4:2-3 (NIV)
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
Ch 06 Unity Through Organism pp 128-129
"Therefore, the core questions that ought to govern our fellowship are simply these: Has God accepted this person? Does the life of Christ reside in him or her? Has the individual called on the name of the Lord that saves (Rom 10:12-13)? Is he or she part of the body of Christ?
"The indwelling life of Jesus Christ is the only requirement for the unity of the Spirit. And amazingly, we Christians can detect that shared Spirit whenever we meet one another. There's an instant sense of kinship that testifies that we have the same Father.
"Certainly, those who have been born of the Spirit will live in a way that is consistent with the fact. Yet they may not be clear on many spiritual things. Their personality may conflict with ours. Their worship style may be distasteful to us. They may be immature and have struggles in areas that we have surpassed. They may be painfully eccentric. Their understanding of the Bible may be poverty stricken. They may make mistakes that they regret. And they just might hold to some false ideas. Yet the fact that Christ dwells in them obligates us to accept them as family members. Not only 'in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth' (1 John 3:18 NKJV)."
Ch 07 Church practice and God's eternal purpose
glorious worship flows out of this vision
p.137 "What was God going to do with humans if they had never fallen?"
p. 139 a Gospel starting from Ephesians and Col deals not with the needs of post fall humans but with God's timeless purpose before creation. It is a Gospel built on the centrality and supremacy of Jesus Christ that puts the rest of the NT and the OT into a different context - different from the context of God, in Jesus coming to save mankind from his sins
the latter is the Gospel taught by Evangelical and other churches
Ch 07 Wow ending
"The church, then, is not only called to proclaim the gospel, but to embody it by its communitarian life. Unfortunately, the church in the West is dominated by individualistic, anticommunal forces. Its obsession with consumerism, individualism, and materialism has kept it from fulfilling God's ultimate intention.
"On this score, Gilbert Bilezikian says,
"Christ did not die just to save us from our sins, but to bring us together into community. After coming to Christ, our next step is to be involved in community. A church that does not experience community is a parody, a sham."
Simply put, the purpose of the church is to stand for God's eternal purpose. It's called to live in the foretaste or Rev 21 and 22.
... big list of things the church exists to be ...
In short, whenever the church gathers together, its guiding and functioning principle is simply to incarnate Christ.
1 Corinthians 12:12 (NIV)
Ch 08 Leadership
distinction - positional - political
- functional - collegial
p. 160 - 161 the disastrous effects of the clergy model
"Here's how it works. Since the clergy carries the spiritual workload, the majority of the church becomes passive, lazy, self-seeking ("feed me"), and arrested in their spiritual development.
"Just as serious, the clergy system warps many who occupy clerical positions. The reason? God never called anyone to bear the heavy burden of ministering to the needs of the church by himself. Yet regardless of the spiritual tragedies the clergy profession engenders, the masses continue to rely on, defend, and insist upon it. For this reason the so-called laity is just as responsible for the problems of clericalism as is the clergy.
"If the truth be told, many Christians prefer the convenience of pay someone to shoulder the responsibility for ministry and shepherding. In their minds, it's better to hire a religious specialist to tend to the needs of God's people than to bother themselves with the self-emptying demands of servant-hood and pastoral care."
"it puts the living breathing organism of the church into an OT straitjacket"
p. 162 clergy need not use vicious forms of authority to be harmful to body life their mere existence is harmful
p. 163 laity also at fault in keeping this system in place "many of us - like Israel of old - still clamour for a king to rule over us"
"the clergy profession is ultimately self-defeating - it nurtures a permanent dependence of the laity"
p. 164 "the clergy laity tradition has done more to undermine NT authority than most heresies"
Ch 09 Oversight
"explicit or implicit - leadership is always present"
NT distinguishes - oversight
- decision making - Ch 10
p. 168-9 NT quotes on elders and overseers
Ac 20:17, 28-29
28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. 29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. (NIV)
1 Pet 5:1-4
'elder' refers to character
'overseer' refers to function
'shepherd' refers to gifting
p. 170 "our western obsession with offices and titles has led us to superimpose our own ideas of church order onto the NT"
"superintending is largely a passive role"
p. 171 "NT method for decision making was neither dictatorial nor democratic. It was consensual. It involved all the brothers and sisters."
p. 173 list of Greek terms related to leadership that never appear in the NT description of leadership of church
p. 181ff a great inventory of lack of references to pastors or other hierarchical leaders in NT
- elders grow from the brotherhood and operate among the brotherhood not over it
Ch 10 Reimagining Decision Making
p. 190 "the NT model for leadership serves as a safeguard to the real and living leadership of Christ. It's also a check against authoritarianism"
"they don't oversee by being lords over God's heritage, but by being examples to the flock" 1 Pet 5:3
p. 192 summary on leadership
such thinking comes into conflict with today's idea of "spiritual authority" but it meshes perfectly with the biblical teaching of the kingdom of God.
p. 193 "many mistakenly think that American democracy is rooted in biblical theology"
p. 193 "Majority rule, dictatorial rule and Robert's Rules of Order do violence to the body image of the church. ... they dilute the unvarnished testimony the Jesus Christ is the Head of one unified body."
p. 193 "those who look through the prism of modern pragmatism regard consensus to be idealistic and impractical ... yet it is the only sure safeguard that a group have obtained the mind of Christ"
p. 197-8 the process is as important as the outcome
p. 198 how we treat each other as we make decisions together is as important as what we actually decide
Ch 11 very good on spiritual covering
on "covering" in the sense of "spiritual covering"
Ch 12 Reimagining authority and submission
p. 213 subjection vs. obedience
p. 214 one can disobey while submitting - one can disobey yet have an attitude of respect rather than a spirit of rebellion
p. 215 official authority vs. organic authority
the shepherding movement - how it went off the rails
p227 'To borrow language from John Howard Yoder, the authority and submission that Scripture envisions "gives more authority to the church than does Rome, trusts more to the Holy Spirit than does Pentecostalism, has more respect for the individual than Humanism, makes moral standards more binding than Puritanism, and is more open to the given situation than 'The New Morality'"'
Ch 13 on denominational covering
great opening paragraphs
Ch 14 Reimagining the Apostolic Tradition
p. 244 "a church cannot be organised, it has to be born"
The NT does not provide a manual for church practice
- understand that the church is organic
p. 248 good summary of the points of application of the apostolic tradition - and the way they are violated by current practice
p. 251 do not be deceived into thinking God's blessing = His approval
Just because God used something does not mean He sanctions it (seems a bit like Dutch "gedoogbeleid")
e.g. OT experience of Israel at odds with God yet blessed by Him
p. 252 "It's God house that He is building His way."
1. On the distinction between brethren and visitors to the gathering - how do you apply that in practice? does not the actual application have features of sect forming that denominations are accused of?
2. On subjection and obedience p. 213 we are to in a spirit of humble subjection towards those whom He has placed in authority in the natural order - God had placed them in authority
But those who have claimed or constructed positions of authority in the church have usurped the authority of Christ.
So God has has a part in appointing Barack Obama to the US presidency but no part in the appointment of NT Wright as Bishop of Durham?
See page - 214 "While God has established official authority to operate in the natural order, He hasn't instituted this kind of authority in the church."
"... the Bible never teaches that God has given believers authority over other believers."
"Community 101" Bilezikian, Gilbert, Grand Rapids, MI, Zondervan, 1997
"The Royal Priesthood: Essays Ecclesiatical and Ecumenical" Yoder, John Howard, Scottdale, PA, Herald Press, 1988
John Howard Yoder - Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Howard_Yoder
"He called the arrangement whereby the state and the church each supported the goals of the other Constantinianism, and he regarded it as a dangerous and constant temptation. Yoder argued that Jesus himself rejected this temptation, even to the point of dying a horrible and cruel death. Resurrecting Jesus from the dead was, in this view, God's way of vindicating Christ's unwavering obedience.
"Likewise, Yoder argued, the primary responsibility of Christians is not to take over society and impose their convictions and values on people who don't share their faith, but to "be the church." By refusing to return evil for evil, by living in peace, sharing goods, and doing deeds of charity as opportunities arise, the church witnesses, says Yoder, to the fact that an alternative to a society based on violence or the threat of violence has been made possible by the life, death, resurrection and teachings of Jesus. Yoder claims that the church thus lives in the conviction that God calls Christians to imitate the way of Christ in his absolute obedience, even if it leads to their deaths, for they, too, will finally be vindicated in resurrection.
"Yoder argued that being Christian is a political standpoint,"
"Out of the Silent Planet" CS Lewis from Wikipedia:
The question "What was God going to do with humans if they had never fallen?" seems to relate to Malacandra