OK, I freely admit that football season here in the states has slowed down my progress on 1 Timothy.
In one sense, this is good. It takes time to think through the project and come up with more questions to ask and more options to consider.
As an aside, I happened to listen to a video today and just had to post up the quote because it seems to apply to the 1 Timothy study quite well!
Starting at about 8:29 in the video, Professor DeConick states that she likes to study “the transgressors”…those “on the edges” and states that one of her professors told her,
“If you want to understand the really early traditions look at the people on the edges about a hundred years later because as the tradition norms, as it becomes more normal and less radical, those radical people in the beginning are pushed toward the outside and so are their ideas.”
Further, she asks, “Why did they become outsiders? Because at some point they were insiders.”
Very good questions to ask in an examination of a letter that appears to have been a power play to create just such an insider/outsider division.
A little something to tease the mind and consider as we look at the early church, who was in, who was out, etc…
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.
I am currently reading (and thoroughly enjoying) Peter Rollins’ book Insurrection and just had to post up this quote:
To believe in the Crucifixion means nothing less than participating in it. We miss something crucial if we take the biblical witness as a mere signpost that points to a distant time in history. Christian belief in the Crucifixion is not about accepting some historical event; we are not invited to merely affirm or contemplate the death of Jesus on the cross, but to undergo that death in our own lives. And just as Jesus was cut off from everything that grounded him, so our participation in the Crucifixion will involve the same troubling, terrifying process. (pg 29)
The Apostle Paul speaks of this often…Galatians 2:20 immediately comes to mind, but I don’t think many Western Christians can identify with truly embracing, let alone expecting to experience the terror of “being crucified with Christ.”
Rollins indeed pushes the limits in attempting to move his readers from a place of comfort and rest to one of a more legitimate identification with Christ, a place where in following him we must inevitably die, and not just once, but multiple tragic and painful deaths throughout our lives.
Clearly, this is not easy to accept. Recall how many walked away from Jesus deeply vexed because of his “hard sayings.”
Rollins challenges us to for once take Jesus seriously and to be willing to literally lose everything just as Jesus did…a hard saying, indeed.
In college I took a class on Christian Ethics. At the time I was deep in the “Reformed stage” of my journey, so I read a lot of the classic writers in that arena.
I decided to center my final paper around a quote I found quite compelling:
Grace is the essence of theology and gratitude is the essence of ethics. – G. C. Berkouwer
At the time, and for many years, this made good sense.
Just last night, I recalled this quote and realized that it didn’t seem to fit any longer.
So, I propose a revision:
Faithfulness is the essence of theology and unity is the essence of ethics.
In short, this is a paradigm shift from the traditional historic Protestant way of thinking.
The core of theology is understood to be both God’s faithfulness toward us and our faithfulness to Him and to one another through community. The core of ethics is unity, primarily with each other (the “One Anothers” of the New Testament) and obliquely with the world at large as well as with Him and in His reign over all.
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.
“The gospel of grace is the end of religion, the final posting of the CLOSED sign on the sweatshop of the human race’s perpetual struggle to think well of itself. For that, at bottom, is what religion is: man’s well-meant but dim-witted attempt to approve of his unapprovable condition by doing odd jobs he thinks some important Something will thank him for.
Religion, therefore, is a loser, a strictly fallen activity. It has a failed past and a bankrupt future. There was no religion in Eden and there won’t be any in heaven; and in the meantime Jesus has died and risen to persuade us to knock it all off right now.” – p. 166