Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Public Jesus (Chapter One)

Last week I mentioned that every year our church does something called The Blitz. This year were using Public Jesus by Tim Suttle. In hopes of priming the pump for this conversation, I thought I might post a few thoughts and questions from the book.

Chapter one of Public Jesus is called, "To be a Human Being in the World." Here we encounter several things:

(1) Being born and becoming conscious of a world that was here before we were.
(2) The Christian version, or story, about how we got here and why, specifically related to the book of Genesis and person of Jesus as it relates to the creation and redemption of the world.
(3) Being salt and light, which is about the public nature of Christianity.

At one point near the end of chapter Tim says, "The church is the way God is now physically present to the world."

I'm curious how this sounds to North American Protestant Evangelicals (or NAPEs as I like to call them, of which I am one) who are typically prone to view God as utterly accessible: We have a personal relationship with Jesus, God hears every single one of our prays AND answers them, and speaks to us in the process with an uncanny kind of clarity. NAPEs lean into the utterly accessible (and often times instant) side of God's relationship with the world.

It tends to be that NAPEs overplay the instant and accessible card to the detriment of a more robust ecclesiology that speaks of God being present to the world through the church. I think there's a good conversation waiting to be had here about what it means to say, to put it another way (a la Steve McCormick and the Orthodox tradition), that the church is God's new epiphany in the world, i.e. that the church is the new way through whom God is primarily related to the world. For most NAPEs we want to recapture a more robust ecclesiology BUT, I think, not without losing the sense that God has not limited the way He is present to the world. In other words, can we not also say that God does in fact move redemptively outside of the church as well?

What do you think?

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