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Andy Rowell’s list on ecclesiology debate between Ben Witherington III & Frank Viola

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Click HERE for Andy Rowell’s helpful list of links regarding debate among Frank Viola, BW3 & Jon Zens regarding Frank Viola’s ecclesiology in Reimagining Church & Pagan Christianity

Andy lists rebuttals to BW3 by both FV & JZ but you can find those directly at the following links:

1. FV Here

2. JZ Here

3. FV on straw man misconceptions HERE

Please CLICK HERE for FV’s blog post on pastors’ response to Reimagining the Church (click here for purchase)
& Pagan Christianity (FV with George Barna, click here for purchase)

Yes, this is an old debate, the public dust having settled in ’08 and Frank has gone on to a DEEPER JOURNEY.  Please, forgive me for coming to this lately.   I’m new to this stuff having only encountered it in Feb ’15.  I guess I missed the memo seven years ago and I”m slogging through my personal dust on the edge of Jubilee….=P.  For my own interaction with this ‘theory and practice of the church’ material please click HERE.

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1 Comment

  1. Christopher Jorna

    I’ve now found time to work through BW3’s critique of Pagan Christianity along with the responses by FV and JZ.

    I haven’t yet worked through BW3’s critique of ReImagining the Church though I have re read sections of that book and I have worked through most of FV’s response.

    I’m finding BW3 to be off the point of the works he is criticizing.

    Additionally I have yet to find a solid exegetical argument that firmly roots our beloved Presbyterial system in anything beyond the idea that we are free to structure our church government according to historical and cultural developments provided we do not violate clear teaching of scripture.

    But to what extent does our institutional structure beget systematic dis association from the living Christ who exercises his rule on a moment by moment basis? Consensus decision making of a local congregation frankly scares me as anarchy. But that might be the point. The only ruler of the Church is Jesus. Jesus does indeed appoint elders and deacons and pastors and teachers, scripture says so. But do these elders ‘rule’ the church in our presbyterian sense of hierarchical parliaments or they rather function to provide an un official example of mature faith for believers to follow as we follow Jesus together. Could it be that Jesus our ONLY KING AND HEAD is also directly the only Ruling Elder of the church? Could it be that official / structural elders by their very nature build an unnecessary (and inescapably idolatrous) human edifice between believers and the direct rule of our King in our assembly and in all aspects of our lives?

    After these exercises I am even more convinced from scripture that official office & heavy institutional / denominational infrastructure is a human organizational imposition on the organic nature of the church & that the best way to honour Jesus as the only King and Head of the Church is through open participatory church meetings and consensual decision making processes within the local congregation.

    This is at odds with much of the ecclesiology of my ordination vows as a teaching elder, a so called minister of word and sacrament, within The Presbyterian Church in Canada. I do believe it is at the best root of those vows but not so much in the expression of Presbyterian government as the government of congregations of Christ’s people. (Though I DO still respect the organizational authority of the system within the legal entity known to the Canadian Crown and the general public as The Presbyterian Church in Canada. Yet my own beliefs are to the point where I do not feel that I could honestly sign the formula we are required to sign at the outset of a new ministry within the auspices of that entity.)

    But technically I continue as an elder in good standing for the following reasons:

    1. I do not believe ordination is mine, it belongs to Jesus and I’m not going to take the radical step of resigning ‘ordination’ until my spouse agrees with me in prayer. I’m not going to nag or pressure her. She belongs to Jesus and He knows the best timing of everything; Including seemingly radical departures and renewals.

    2. I am not currently serving a formal ministry due to physical and possibly psychiatric disabilities, one of which includes the pattern of obsessing about details. So I experience somewhat of a paralysis of analysis in discerning the healthiness of my decision. Though I suspect its not the supposed mental illness behind my shift in ecclesiology it might be a diagnosed personality pattern. It’s hard to get spiritual discernment / counsel on this from either folks who are sincerely committed to presbyterian government or folks who are sincere proponents of ‘organic’ ‘non-institutional’ ‘missional’ ekklesia.

    3. It appears that Jesus is providing to our family’s daily bread through a disability pension that is associated with my previous employment in The Presbyterian Church in Canada with the status of ‘ordained minister’. There has been no indication from the Lord that I need to open the can of worms of what requesting a historical certificate might do to this arrangement. Of course the Lord can and will provide in other ways once his purpose for this revenue stream is complete.

    4. Most of my fellowship within the church is among dear believers who are of presbyterian and reformed sensibilities. (I am still of a strong reformed flavour even if I am no longer technically a convinced ‘presbyterian’ in my thinking.) Understandably, they are mostly not at a point in their discipleship journey were they are as energetic in pondering ecclesiology as am I. I don’t want to cause division or disharmony in fellowship nor do I want to bore my brothers and sisters with my ‘obsessions’, ahem, ‘focii’. So there is no organic fellowship reason to renounce my PCC vows. Quite the contrary at the moment. It would likely be misunderstood and unnecessarily disruptive.

    5. In my rural area there are no examples of organic non – institutiional ekklesia and I cannot be an ekklesia of one. Additionally, as a family we are not currently in a position to offer hospitality to a regular informal gathering through which we might ‘detox’ from latent clericalism & denominationalism by forming the nucleus of such a manifestation of Christ’s Church. Thus I continue to participate in ‘institutional church’ because whatever the flaws may be it is still the fellowship of God’s people. And it is the only type of fellowship my family is ready for at the moment. Ironically, there being no Presbyterian congregations within commuting distance we tend to mostly worship with a Christian and Missionary Alliance congregation in the next town.

    Thus my heresies are restricted to these raving in the comment section of a Blog that is so obscure it will only be read by those whom the Holy Spirit has especially led here to debate with me!

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