I knew I had to read this book when it got rave reviews from three of my virtual mentors: Ched Myers, Richard Rohr, and Brian McLaren. It did not disappoint.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. So much so, that I read it twice before reviewing it!
Christianity in America is changing, and for the better. For this reason, we need a guide. This book is such a guide that can show us how to live out our faith in a more complete and active manner, not simply focusing on things such as dogmatic theology or worship, but getting us out into our community and world to seek, refocus, and wrestle with how to live our faith daily.
Written in three parts, Wynward describes our situation, gives practical examples of how to change, then outlines what to do next. Both highly practical and accessible to a general audience, the book would be great for the classroom or in a small group study.
I have to admit, chapter 4 was my favorite! The author’s take on “rewilding” The Lord’s Prayer is worth the price of the book alone. Indeed, it has become too familiar to us and has lost its edge. This rewilding of the prayer makes it truly revolutionary…it encourages us to meditate on the change Jesus sought and cuts to the heart.
The book is, in fact, all about “rewilding.” Taking a comfortable narrative and throwing it back out in a manner that challenges our relaxed perspective and causing us once again the reconsider the truth of the message.
It became quite exciting every time Wynward “rewilded” something, including The Pentateuch, or at least the naming of the first five books of the Bible. But the coup de grace was seeing The Beatitudes in a completely new light. We have to ask, just what was the point of the Beatitudes. According to the author, it was Jesus’ way of giving out a job description for those who would majorly disrupt the “business as usual” mentality. This take was both thoroughly mind blowing and encouraging at the same time!
Indeed, Todd Wynward has written a gem of a book that so many today need to read to enliven their faith to a literal world’s worth of work to attend to.
Buy this book…it will revitalize and deepen your journey.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.
I have never been one to follow a liturgy or method of prayer. If it is a conversation and a relationship, it should be real. Yet, so many Christians either fall back on rote prayers or ask, “How do I pray…How do you pray?”
Get them this book…seriously! Very readable and entirely ready to put into practice. I was even bummed when I finished the book…it grew on me and I loved it!
Professor Black posted this up on his blog this week.
Looks like he has made an addition or two, but nonetheless, I really like these convictions.
Someday, I’ll add a few of my own…
I am convinced that the house church rather than the sanctuary church was the New Testament norm.
I am convinced of the normalcy of tent-making leadership.
I am convinced that the church exists in part to equip all of its members for ministry.
I am convinced that the leadership of the church should be shared for the health of the congregation.
I am convinced that top-down structures of leadership are unquestionably more efficient. Efficient in doing almost everything other than equipping, which is the primary task of leadership.
I am convinced that the process of appointing new elders is best done on the basis of recognizing who is already serving as an elder in the church.
I am convinced that any local church that takes seriously Jesus as the Senior Pastor will not permit one man to become the titular head of the church.
I am convinced that the essential qualifications for ministry in the church have little or nothing to do with formal education and everything to do with spiritual maturity.
I am convinced that the church is a multi-generational family, and hence one of the things that makes the church the church is the presence of children, parents, and other adults.
I am convinced that because every local church has all the spiritual gifts it needs to be complete in Christ, believers should be exposed to the full expression of the charisms (grace-gifts) when they gather, in contrast to specialized ministries that center around singularly gifted people.
I am convinced that the local church is the scriptural locus for growing to maturity in Christ, and that no other training agency is absolutely needed.
I am convinced that the local church ought to be the best Bible school going.
I am convinced that Paul’s letters were not intended to be studied by ordinands (a candidate for ordination) in a theological college but were intended to be read and studied in the midst of the noisy life of the church.
I am convinced that the church is a theocracy directly under its Head (Jesus Christ), and that the will of the Head is not mediated through various levels of church government but comes directly to all His subjects.
I am convinced that the goal of leadership is not to make people dependent upon its leaders but dependent upon the Head.
I am convinced that since all believers are “joints” in the body, ministry is every believer’s task.
I am convinced that pastor-teachers, as precious gifts of Christ to His church, are to tend the flock of God by both personal care and biblical instruction, equipping God’s people for works of service both in the church and in the world.
I am convinced that the role of pastor-teacher is a settled ministry in a local congregation.
I am convinced that leaders should communicate that every part of the body is interrelated to the other parts and indispensable; every member will be appreciated, every charism will be treasured.
I am convinced that the whole church, the community of all the saints together, is the clergy appointed by God for ministry.
I am convinced that everyone needs to be equipped for his or her own ministry both in the church and in the world. If the church is to become what God intended it to be, it must become a ministerium of all who have placed their faith in Christ. The whole people of God must be transformed into a ministering people. Nothing short of this will restore the church to its proper role in the kingdom of God.
In an earlier post, I challenged Moises Silva where he was basically stating that his theology should inform his interpretation of a given text.
Building on that, I have found that interpreting the Pastoral Epistles (1 & 2 Timothy and Titus) prove to be an excellent test case.
Scholars seem strongly divided into two main groups here, and it revolves around if Paul wrote these letters or not. Now, as I will show later, there are actually dozens if not hundreds of possibilities and suggestions when it comes to how and when these letters were written. But let’s put that aside for the moment. The two very general interpretive camps, as I see it, come down to the inspiration and authority of scripture.
Those who hold strongly to inerrancy, infallibility, and inspiration have a very difficult time accepting that anyone other than Paul himself wrote these letters. Some may go as far as to say that he used an amenuensis (basically, someone we might understand to be a secretary) assist with the writing, but that the words are Paul’s as he was inspired by God to write them.
Those who are not as interested in inerrancy, infallibility and inspiration are seemingly quite ready and able to see other options, writers and possiblities for the production of these letters.
So, right out the gate, Silva’s model reveals it’s product – the text says what you believe it should say. If the interpreter is an Evangelical, they read it as coming from Paul. If the interpreter is not theologically predisposed, they read it as quite possibly coming from sources other than Paul.
Now this is where it gets interesting.
There are all sorts of theological issues embedded in these letters. Probably the top three in contention these days are the issue of the role of women in ministry, the qualifications for ministry and the formation of scripture.
I would like to address these issues in future posts as I work through these three short letters because, for the most part, these issues can be interpreted in very different ways depending upon how the letters are approached.
Those that know me, will recall that I came from some pretty conservative theological roots. None of my training for ministry, formal or informal, ever attempted to teach anyone but Paul the Apostle as the author to these letters. After all, that is what the text itself says, right?
Our habit of thinking of ministry as a ‘profession’ is likely to produce serious distortions in our conception of the church and our role within it ~ Richard B. Hays, 1 Cor.3:18-23
While this is crystal clear to me, I know many Christians simply do not see the distortion (see Part 1). This just goes to show how deeply ingrained we are in our contemporary Western culture and how utterly out of touch we are with the culture of the early church.
There is a popular phrase that states “form follows function” meaning:
If an object has to perform a certain function, its design must support that function to the fullest extent possible. – Digital Web Magazine
In fact, the context in which this was taught was in a class on church planting. And this makes perfect sense, the form follows the function; the design supports how the church works. So, if we have professional ministers, the church structure, from the organizational chart all the way to the actual performance of ministry, in all practicality must serve the professional minster.
Yet, the “fail” is seen in the fact that upon reading the New Testament there simply were no professional ministers or hierarchy, and the design, the form, was quite different from what we have today.
This, then begs the question: If we notice this difference, how do we go about changing it? How do we get back to the original intent? How do we essentially allow for purposeful change that will benefit the church and in turn benefit society? How do we return to a functional ecclesiology?
The answer begins with embracing and encouraging a ministry supported by the New Testament in which all are ministers and all have received gifts and empowerment by the Holy Spirit to serve as Christ here and now every day of the week at any given place on the planet…and maybe beyond!
Take a look at these passages: Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4; 1 Peter 4.
The church is the body, all having a part to play. There are no professional ministers.
Now, there are indeed leaders, often called elders, but nowhere do we see these individuals taking over for the body. Their function is to encourage service – not to take it and to protect the body – not to control it.
Take a look at 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 for more on this. Again, no professional here either.
So, in short, both the church and her leaders need to be willing to reevaluate the current system to see how functional or dysfunctional it really has become.
A local Calvary Chapel seemed to want to take the Bible literally, unless of course we were speaking about the book of Daniel or Revelation and end times prophecy, which seemed to be interpretation by current events. Later I would find that this could loosely be defined as Dispensationalism.
In college, I was taught a very specific technique: the Historical-Grammatical method. Here the focus was on the historical background, culture, literary genre, grammar, syntax, and discourse analysis.
In seminary, I continued to develop my historical-grammatical skills, though in many ways I found myself pushing its limits and venturing out into seemingly uncharted territory. It was here that I began to see that my tried and true hermeneutic didn’t seem to be the all-in-one tool that it was billed to be.
Since then, I have come to realize that there are many ways in which people interpret scripture. Of course, not all of them can be right. Just look at all the varied results! Yet, I believe we must strive to do our best to understand what the Bible meant to the original audience and only then to discover what that means for us today.
In the very near future, I will outline where I am today with regard to interpreting the Bible and expand on the methods by way of investigating some current and popular debates surrounding Christians today.