Primitive Christianity? Looking Back for a Way Forward

Some years ago a group fashioned itself as a renewal group. Intent to stem the perceived tide of progress they labeled themselves a group to return a local church to “a New Testament Church.” After some years of college and seminary I reflected on that moment in my Christian experience and wondered, “Which New Testament Church are you choosing?”

Romanticism dies hard. Idealism even harder. Would we romantically wish to fashion ourselves after the New Testament Church in Corinth? Rife with division and struggling to live in new ways, the letters of Paul to Corinth should dispel any romantic misgivings. Even if we selected the New Testament Church at Philipi, arguably the least dysfunctional of them all, our idealism would crumble under the weight of either self-serving preachers or female leaders in conflict.

These things came to mind as I finished Tony Jones‘ latest book.

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“Didachists” to Avoid – The Dishonest Type

I am reading Tony Jones new book on the “Didache,” The Teaching of the Twelve. I have Bettensen’s Documents of the Christian Church which contains excerpts from the Didache. Tony offers a complete copy in his book. Imagine that! The former National Coordinator for Emergent Village authors a book favorable of one of the earliest Christian documents outside of the New Testament.

Scandalous. Mike King puts it this way,

Those who have tried to â??labelâ? and â??dismissâ? Tony Jones will have a hard time believing that Tony would be so interested in a text that starts out, â??There are two ways, one of life and one of death! and there is a great difference between the two ways.â?Â  But, he is, and so we reap the benefit.

There are plenty of teachers, “didachists,” on these interwebs that like to warn the Christian sub-culture of those to avoid and fear. Yet, here is a book reflecting positively on the benefits of a “rule of life” addressing simple living in the Way of Jesus and nary a word. Would it be too difficult to complement the book?

It is likely the problem is a lack of controversial material. So, how about we create some controversial content from Tony’s book? Maybe we could contend that Tony is subverting the idea that doctrinal precision is king and instead suggesting the way of Jesus is born out in those living the King’s Way.

What do you think?