Saturday, October 10, 2009
Evangelical Ecclesiology - Apostolicity
Evangelical churhes have a reputation for being "ecclesiologically lite" and bigger on soteriology and individual piety. I remember having a conversation long ago with a liberal protestant minister who told me that the problem with evangelicals is that "you don't have an ecclesiology". To which I replied, "no, I think our problem is that we don't have your ecclesiology" which I thought was a good come back. But this makes me wonder, how does an evangelical ecclesilogy differ from a liberal protestant, anglo-catholic, othodox, or Roman catholic one.? Given that evangelicalism is made up of various denominations with divergent ecclesiologies the notion of a shared ecclesiology is a bit of an impossibility in the absolute sense. Still, I think one of the key differences between evangelical and liberal protestant churches is how they understand apostolicity. What should be valued more: the integrity of the apostolic message or the physical representation of unity in the apostolic churches? If one defines apostilicity theologically (and I think we must), what do we do with those churches that stand in a genealogical relationship to the ancient church, but for a variety of reasons have departed from the apostolic message according to our perceptions? Is there any value in having a genealogical relationship (i.e., apostolic succession) with the ancient church? If so, how do evangelicals get some of it? Alternatively, does faithfully holding to the apostolic message enable a spiritual unity that reaches across all boundaries and borders of space, time, and place that is more important than institutional unity? Many questions here, much to think about!