The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture
Friday, March 09, 2007
Is Ecclesiocentricity the Problem?
Andrew Sandlin gets it only half right when he says that Ecclesiocentricity is the reason why we are so culturally irrelevant:
One of the most deleterious errors in the history of Christianity has been the persistent tendency to equate the kingdom of God with the church.
It all depends on what he means by "church." He is spot on correct if by church he means the institutional church. The Kingdom of God is surely larger than the institutional church. This is the Roman error in a nutshell: equating Christian culture with the institutional church (i.e. everything is subsumed under ecclesiastical authority). This indeed is deadly to the promotion of Christian culture even if this might seem to be counter intuitive.
But if we take "church" to refer to the covenant community of those who profess Christ, who gather together to do ecclesiastical stuff, but who also raise kids, paint, write, build houses, run restaurants, serve as policemen, etc. - if this is what we mean by church, then Sandlin has it wrong. It is God's people who are (or at least ought to be) subject to King of kings in all their endeavors - ecclesiastical, cultural and otherwise. In this sense the church is the Kingdom. Its a matter of definition.
I must admit that Sandlin baffles me, when he says:
In the Reformed sector, the persistence of the Regulative Principle of Worship — both in its Puritan (minimalist) and Covenant Renewal (maximalist) forms — undermines the Kingdom by obsessing over the forms of worship, the very trend that Jehovah abominated in His people in the Old Testament.
Does worship have no effect on our conception of Kingdom and culture? "Obsessing" over anything (even wrongly equating Kingdom with church!) is a bad idea. Was this really the OT problem? Seems to me they weren't careful enough. Being sober-minded and diligent over the right priorities in worship is the school whereby we are trained to be sober-minded and diligent about cultural activities as well.
Sadly, Sandlin does not offer very much of a positive vision in this piece of what we ought to be in our posture towards culture-making and Kingdom matters.