Friday, December 14, 2007

Jolly Blogger

I was cruising the world of blogdom and happened upon the following post from David Wayne...

Ed Stetzer on the Reformed Tradition and Missionary/Missional Focus
I'm reading Ed Stetzer's Book
"Planting Missional Churches" and he has a few thoughts on the reformed church and missional thinking on pp. 28-29:
This loss of missionary focus was evident in both Protestant belief systems and practice. Although the Reformation restored much fo primitive Christianity, it also lost much - particularly in areas of mission. The consequences of this loss of missional focus continue today. There has been substantial debate regarding the nature of the Reformation church: Was it a missionary church? Did it value missions? These are valid questions with regard to whether the Reformation church engaged in the task of missions. They are, unfortunately, the wrong questions. The Reformers were trapped within geographic Christendom while their Catholic counterparts were engaged in colonial expansion. Protestant "mission" became missions to Catholics. While Protestants focused on Catholics, Catholic missions flourished. So instead of asking, "Was the Reformation church a mission movement?" It's better to recognize that it was weak in its mission focus, and ask, "Why?" Pre-Reformation confessions referred to the church as "one holy apostolic church." Words like these aren't frequently found in the confessions of the Reformation. Instead the Reformation confessions reacted to the errors of "apostolic succession" (the idea that the popes and bishops held their power because of being appointed by subsequent bishops/popes back to Peter). By deemphasizing the "apostolic" nature of the church, the Reformers were trying to say that the church did not derive its legitimacy from succession of leaders. However, apostolic is more than a "position"; its a "posture." Although the word is often misunderstood, the root of the word apostle is "one sent . . . with a message." So we should be an apostolic church. When the Reformers (and later evangelicals) started to deemphasize the apostolic nature of the church, they inadvertently lessened the sending nature of that apostolic church. The church that "reofrmed" lost touch with the God who sends, and the mission of the church suffered. "Lost in this deletion was an emphasis on the church's 'being authoritatively sent' by God into the world to participate fully in God's mission." This loss of missional focus also led to a loss of missional thinking. Evangelicals continue to struggle with presenting the unchanging gospel in an ever-changing cultural setting. Churches must parallel, in some ways, their host cultures. This process is called "indigenization."
For the sake of reformed folks who think Ed is bashing the reformed tradition I want to mention that theologically he is very much in line with the reformed traditon and has worked closely with the PCA and other reformed denominations. So, he's not bashing, he's just assessing strengths and weaknesses from a historical perspective.

Click HERE to read the rest of his post.

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