Tuesday, February 10, 2009

God's Tapestry, by W. Eugene March: Chapter 2 "The Diversity Matrix"

In chapter one Eugene March laid out some pretty extensive statistics and demographics to show how diverse the world in which we live today and American in particular are. And as I have noted, just one road in Twin Falls shows off a pretty diverse set of churches, not to mention the little Iranian girl in my son's kindergarten class and his Jewish art teacher from a few summers back.

In chapter two March reminds us of something we all probably knew, but have forgotten. That is, from the time of Christ through the fourth century the Christian movement was a decidedly minority group within Judaism, not to mention the very diverse and pluralistic nature of the vast Roman Empire. He reminds us of this little bit of history as a way of reminding us that how we read and interpret the Bible is influenced not only by the culture in which we find ourselves, but also within the original context of the culture and cultures in which the Bible was written.

His main argument in the second chapter seems to be that in remembering that the early Christian movement was not only a minority but also was highly fractured into many different groups following many different leaders and schools of thought and yet the Christian movement grew in this "diversity matrix" should be good news for us.

I want to highlight this line of thought from March, because all too often contemporary Christians who remember the heydays of the 1950s and 1960s lament the loss of status and growth of the church-of-empire and can't really see any good in smaller less influential churches. But as March points out, perhaps this diversity and lack of status will help us focus again on who matters most; that is Jesus Christ, Son of God.

Is this indeed a time of new growth for the church?

Is this a time when we can really grab hold of who God created us to be?

Can we get past stories of the pews being filled and instead be filled with the Holy Spirit and led into the world with the good news that God so loves the world?

Are we ready to face the new realities in which we find ourselves?

How will God bless us now that we are less concerned with maintaining the status quo and more concerned about discerning God's path for us?

1 comment:

  1. Phil,
    The point of getting over the past stories is very good. I frequently hear about the stories of past glory of the Church I attend and almost always feel, that I can't be part of the Church because I can't be a part of the corporate past. What I hear is, "oh, you can't understand, you weren't here." I'm not sure folks care about being part of the past and certainly don't want to be excluded because they can not be a part of that past. Of course a Church can only shrink if new people can't be folded in...it's all about redesign, reinterpreting and including new folks as be go along...my take on it anyway.
    You keep this up and I'll have to buy another book. - Jim