Tag Archives: Church

An Interview with Christian Smith on “The Bible Made Impossible”

For those of you who have been faithful followers of my blog, I wanted to let you know that I’m finishing up a grad degree this coming May. Most of my more recent posts have been longer additions in the form of academic papers. You can find them by clicking on the “Essays” tab. (I still have a couple more papers coming!) In the future, I’ll be archiving other posts.

Beginning this summer I plan on writing shorter blog posts a few times a month. I’m a busy guy, as I’m sure you can relate. I don’t want to be pumping out stuff daily or even weekly if I don’t feel like I have something to share that is worth my time and yours. I’m not doing this for blog ratings. I could be acting on the “strategery” (to borrow a term from George W. Bush) of the big time bloggers, but I don’t want to overwhelm you or myself. So, for now, if you’re looking for a few good posts a month, please consider subscribing to the blog by e-mail.

I like to reserve my blog for meaty stuff and edifying discussion. I like to use Facebook for everything else. So, I’ll begin posting more regularly in the coming weeks. I would like to begin sharing more frequently on issues that are especially timely and relevant to both the academy and the church. Have you read about the purpose of my blog? I will continue posting book reviews, sharing about my personal journey, and stirring up some good conversation as we all stumble forward in Christ together.

In the meantime, my good friend Frank Viola recently did an interview with Christian Smith, author of “The Bible Made Impossible: Why Biblicism Is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture.” The title of Smith’s book is provocative enough! I own the book, and will be reading it soon. I may even review it here on the blog. I encourage you to check out the interview at Frank’s blog, “Beyond Evangelical.” And tell him I said “Hellooooo!” He likes that.

Read the complete interview with Christian Smith on “The Bible Made Impossible.”


The Community Life of God (Book Review)

The God Who Is Relationship

A Book Review of “The Community Life of God: Seeing the Godhead As the Model for All Relationships” by Milt Rodriguez

“God is not an individual” says Milt Rodriguez.  “He is a fellowship of three Persons; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” (p.14).

In The Community Life of God, Milt Rodriguez weaves together the story of God’s desire to plant himself in His people.  God’s image is a “communal” image.  The Lord created man in His image of community.  And taking from the Tree of Life (i.e. Christ) is to take from the relational God.

It was in the Garden of Eden that the serpent sought to keep God’s image from becoming a reality in the hearts of men.  The enemy of God presented man with individual living out of his own soul-life (i.e. will, emotions, intellect).  Instead of man pursuing spiritual living after taking from the communal life of God, he experiences separation from God and other men.

Rodriguez proposes that much of Christian activity today is spent furthering the individualistic mindset that is so popular in our culture.  Even when believers come together corporately there is not an understanding of God’s image among us.  Church life ought to be more than socializing and individual Christian ministries.

Milt writes, “Personhood and identity can only be defined by relating to others. You will never truly “find yourself” until you are living in the community life of God” (p.62)

What is the sort of fellowship the Lord desires among his ekklesia?

“This fellowship is the place where there is nothing to hide. Complete truthfulness and complete honesty rule here.  The Father, Son, and Spirit do not hold back anything from one another… there is no fear of loss” (p. 116).

As Christian Smith has written, “Community means more than having lots of meetings. It means jointly building a way of life, a group memory, and a common anticipated future.” (Going to the Root: Nine Proposals for Radical Church Renewal, p.2)

In order for us to experience the community life of God, we must embrace the cross.  Rodriguez says there “will be one brother or sister who rubs you the wrong way.”  It is there we embrace the cross and learn “they are part of the same body as you. You belong to them and they belong to you” (p.152).

Finally, this community life of God cannot work in meeting once a week.  We all know this to be true, but still we place other things before God’s heart.  We sacrifice the church on the altar of family, jobs, and personal ministries.

Milt says, “He (God) wants you and me and every other believer to be actively involved on a daily basis. This is why we were born.  This is why we live on this planet” (p.170).

Brothers and sisters, if we are going to participate in God’s eternal purpose, we must be intentional about our relationships within the local ekklesia of Christ.  We must give and receive sacrificially in order that we might know the God who is within Himself, relationship.

There have been many books written on the church being rooted in the Triune image of God, but this one delivers in a simple and easy-to-read presentation.  I recommend this book to all of those who are longing to discover that the church is born out of the very heart of the relational God.

What others are saying?

“This little book provides a clear window into the ultimate source of authentic body life. Delve into its pages and meet the God who is beyond what most of us have imagined, the God in whose collective voice all genuine churches echo.” –Frank Viola, author of Pagan Christianity, From Eternity to Here, and Finding Organic Church, www.frankviola.com

“I was deeply blessed, refreshed and challenged by this book. The author casts the spotlight on the reality and wonder that “God” is really the community life of three persons – a fact virtually untouched in traditional theology. Milt shows from various angles how the community life of God is the foundation of our organic ekklesia life together in Christ.”–Jon Zens, Editor, Searching Together; author of A Church Building Every ½ Mile and “What’s With Paul & Women? www.searchingtogether.org

Milt Rodriguez

Milt Rodriguez has been living in and planting organic expressions of church since 1990. He has also authored several books including The Butterfly in You and The Temple Within.  He currently lives with his wife Mary in Gainesville, Flordia.  He is a dear brother in the Lord and I am happy to call him my friend.


The Torch of the Testimony (Book Review)

thetorchofthetestimonyThe Struggle for the Centrality of Christ—Book Review of “The Torch of the Testimony” by John W. Kennedy—Reviewed by David D. Flowers

John W. Kennedy has given us a great gift that has gone largely unnoticed in the western world. “The Torch of the Testimony” uncovers the 2,000-year history of those believing Christians and churches that stood outside the Protestant and Catholic traditions.

“The history of the working of the Spirit of God is not the history of any organization, and what usually goes by the name ‘Church History’ is only too often a sorry tale of bigoted quarrels and selfish intrigue. Yet the history of the two, the spiritual movement, and the earthly institution, are sometimes so closely intermingled that it is impossible to give an account of one without referring to the other.” p. 56

Kennedy gives us a concise narrative of church history while distinguishing between the “spiritual church” and the organized church of man.

He is gracious and honest to point out the good that was achieved within the organized church, but is consistent in his critique of both movements of the church.

He very powerfully exposes the shortcomings of the institutional church and how past saints concluded that it can never be reformed. What is needed is a return to New Testament church practice.

“The life of Christ and the Lordship of Christ through His Word are, therefore, two things which mark out the church of the New Testament. When these are supplanted by anything else, the result is a departure from the principle of Scripture and ultimate confusion.” p. 177

He wonderfully weaves together the disjointed stories of the church to paint a clear picture of the challenges that still face us today. The reader can’t help but be awakened to the reality that we are a part of the unfolding story of Christ’s church.

In this book, you will learn about how the the church began to drift from apostolic teachings through Greco-Roman influence and opened the door for the Constantinian State in the fourth century.

You will discover the enduring testimony of the remnant that existed apart from the organized church up to the Protestant Reformation and onward. You will learn how a break from the State Church into independent movements produced denominations built upon doctrines instead of the rock of Christ.

How did we get to where we are today? Where are we in the story of God’s people? Will we learn from the mistakes of the past? What will be written about us?

Will our relationship to Christ be the unifying bond that births our church practice or will we be distracted by power and cling to weapons of the world in an attempt to advance the Gospel?

I can’t stress enough how important this book is to the study of the development of Christianity. This book is a “must read” for every serious student of church history.

If you are involved in organic church life and gatherings outside of the institutional church, this book should be required reading before you can say, “I am part of a house church.”

If this account of church history doesn’t move you… I would recommend you check your spiritual pulse.

Suggested Reading:
The Untold Story of the New Testament Church: An Extraordinary Guide to Understanding the New Testament
Paul’s Idea of Community: The Early House Churches in Their Cultural Setting, Revised Edition
Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices
The Reformers and Their Stepchildren (Dissent and Nonconformity)


Sanctorum Communio

Thank you Lord for letting me see

A vision of your Bride — unchained and free!

Shackled for so long and caged up by men

Her beauty was veiled and the world was her friend.

Betrothed to a God who prepares her a home

Though she doesn’t see Him, she is never alone.

Empowered by the Spirit to keep herself pure

By the hope of His coming and by faith she’ll endure.

The devil and demons with the power of hell

Try to destroy her, but will not prevail!

The Bridegroom is coming in the clouds to see

The wife of God, the church, she will be.

So let us now pray for community, dear saints

The day is almost over, let not your hearts be faint.

The Son is victorious and the marriage is near

Stand firm dear saints, there is nothing to fear.

Thank you Lord for letting me see

A vision of your Bride — unchained and free!

 
open armsNote: This little poem “Sanctorum Communio” (Community of the Saints) was written in my personal journal of prayers and meditations on February 4, 2007. It represents for me a song of victory in my own personal exodus from institutionalized Christianity.


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