06 January 2008

"X is invalid" vs. "Y is [also] valid"

Honestly, I think "Kingdom" (nee "Emerging") Grace's blog (including comments) is about the most interesting thing I'm reading lately. Lots of really good thinking and discussion on church leadership and structure. Today she begins a series on Frank Viola and George Barna's new book Pagan Christianity by quoting two statements from the preface:

“We are also making an outrageous proposal: that the church in its contemporary, institutional form has neither a biblical nor a historical right to exist.”


“In short, this book demonstrates beyond dispute that those who have left the fold of institutional Christianity to become part of an organic church have a historical right to exist.”

I think there's a really, really big difference between statements of the first form and those of the second. In particular, on those occasions when I attempt to lay down my self-righteous smack on issues related to church leadership, polity, structure, etc., etc., I hope I always mean to make statements of the latter "Y is [also] valid" form - though without the whole "beyond dispute" hubris - as opposed to the former "X is invalid" form. I do feel that certain aspects of our contemporary institutional church that are almost universal - including many of the ones examined by Viola and Barna - probably ought to become (by contrast) almost nonexistent in the postmodern world, because I think in more and more contexts they will do more harm than good. But I think context is everything, and I think that things like (for example) church buildings, clergy, sermons, seminaries, hierarchies, etc. have been and still are appropriate in many contexts - but probably never should have been as universal as they became. And, I suspect the contexts in which they do more good than harm are becoming more and more scarce.

But anyway, my main point is that I hope I avoid making statements like "X has no right to exist" when I really mean to say "Y, though different from X (and despite the near-universal assumption of the need for X) does have a right to exist, can work, etc." If you catch me doing the former, please smack me down. Srsly.

1 comment:

dave said...

Awesome, Mike. Inspired this