@davidtwayne reviews the book Revolution six years before me. An open-minded and well-researched post.

I want to point out two fundamental practical/theological flaws that I believe render the good stuff in the book unusable at best and harmful at worst.

Barna’s thesis is most succinctly summarized on the back cover of the book where he says:

Millions of believers have moved beyond the established church . . . and chosen to be the church instead.

That is probably as good a short statement of what he means by
“revolution” as you will find in the book.  The book itself justifies this as a good and even desirable thing. 

And my two main objections in regard to the two fundamental flaws are: 

  1. The cure is worse than the disease.  In fact, upon closer inspection it may be that the cure is the cause of the disease.
  2. The revolution is a Christianized Maslowian revolution that is antithetical to the biblical communitarian worldview.

While I have my doubts, I do not doubt that God can use these
self-proclaimed revolutionaries to speak to His church.  Though I
may question the motives and methods of the revolutionaries, like Paul
in Philippians 1:15-18 I will be happy to rejoice that Christ is
preached wherever He is preached.  But I do hope my criticisms find some resonance and offer some helpful cautions.

David isn’t a fan of Barna’s theses, and he expounds thoroughly on his objections to Barna’s encouragement of the revolution. After reading David’s post, I still wonder what his response to Barna’s research might be. If Christians are trending away from institutional churches, what should be the response of the remaining institutional church leaders and members? Is there room for unity among traditional church-attending Christians and believers led to pursue Christ outside of institutional church membership and commitment?

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2 thoughts on “@davidtwayne reviews the book Revolution six years before me. An open-minded and well-researched post.

  1. David Wayne says:

    Hi Joel, I just found you through my postling account today. I don’t have a good answer to your question. I don’t doubt that Barna is right in his polling data and I think the tide of public opinion is decidedly in his favor. I doubt that anything most of us in the traditional churches will be persuasive to the revolutionaries. I think us traditionalists have to examine ourselves to make sure our beliefs and practices are grounded in the bible and not just a blind adherence to traditionalism. I also think we need to do a better job of educating people. I think we need to give greater weight to the fact that our baptism into Christ is a baptism into the church. In other words, the church is not a discipline or a means of promoting personal growth in such a way that the church is subservient to the individual. We are baptized into the church in such a way that the church is the environment in which we live the Christian life. I also think it would help if we viewed our participation in the church in a more covenantal sense. The marriage covenant provides a bit of an analogy here – we don’t leave our spouses because they fail to meet our needs, nor should we leave a church because it fails to meet our needs. Also, I think we need to minimize talk of the “invisible church.” I know there is such a thing, all believers in all times and all lands are members of the church in it’s “invisible” sense. But in the Bible, participation in the church is almost always spoken of with a local and particular flavor. To speak of one’s commitment to the church is to speak of commitment to a particular group of particular people in a particular locale. To use marriage as an analogy I may believe in the idea or institution of marriage, but the way I demonstrate that is by being faithful to one particular woman till death do us part. I can’t claim to believe in marriage if I jump from one woman to another. Similarly, I really am not committed to the church unless I am locked into a particular body, come hell or high water. Christianity is a corporate thing and I don’t think Barna has given proper weight to the fact that these revolutionaries are in the grip of good old American individualism. Anyway, those are some knee jerk thoughts – thanks for mentioning me in your post.

  2. Joel Zehring says:

    I’ve been thinking a lot about being “baptized into the church.” I totally agree that this baptism must be a local, face-to-face event. The local church is the God-ordained context where Christians can be disciples and make disciples.My question in response: what constitutes a “local church?” What are the essential minimum ingredients that make it a real, living body where Jesus can express himself? Is it simply two or more believers gathered together? Are ordained ministers required? Paid staff? Brick and mortar meeting facilities? Expensive PA system? A mortgage?Hopefully you can look past my obnoxiousness to my point. In America, the default definition of a “local church” has morphed and bloated into an entity that is far from what we read about in the New Testament.Which leads me to wrestle with this question: have Christians in America settled for recruiting church members rather than making disciples?And a follow-up question: is the non-profit, hierarchical structure of most mainstream churches driving us toward this compromise of membership over discipleship?Perhaps the church without the overhead of a big budget or a mortgage payment or paid staff is more adept at reproducing new, lasting disciples.If I’m trending way cynical, let me rephrase in the positive: How do Christ and his body benefit from big budgets or mortgage payments or paid staff? How does Christ use these features explicitly to draw people to himself and build his local body?

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