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Modelling Early Christianity

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : September 21, 2004

Last week I picked up Modelling Early Christianity: Social-Scientific Studies of the New Testament in Its Contextat my local Barnes and Noble used book annex. I enjoy inter-disciplinary examinations of the early Church. I know that it can be dangerous at times to try to put our paradigms onto the early Church, but we all do it unconciously anyways. As long as social scientists are honest in their approach, I am happy.

This book is facinating. There are several chapters dedicated to group formation/dynamics in the early church. My favorite chapter looks at the house church as a fictive kinship group and larger church expressions as political action groups. Understanding the church in this way can be helpful, for the emphasis is no longer on “discipleship focus” and “evangelism focus”–a distinction that many churches feel forced to adopt. Instead, the house church is an expression of church as family, and understood as the basic expression of the church. However, I believe there must be more–Christianity is not only a family, but a movement. A political movement (a la Yoder and Hauerwas). This is the apostolic function of the church. The previous post (by Chris Brenna) raises the issue of true politics. Here is the question I pose, and it is something we need to take seriously:

How should the church properly understand its function as a political movement?

Please understand, I am using the word “political” in a very precise way. For further study, start here.

for further reading . . .

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