My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Next week, I’ll be meeting with a couple pastors and friends from our little town in North Carolina. We’ll be a diverse little group, but we will be exploring ways to work together in our town, to present a united witness, as well as create a network of Christians who can respond to needs and hurting people within our own community.
Now, I’m naturally a shy and retiring person. I’d rather write about this, than actually do it. What would motivate me to do this? Well, John H. Armstrong’s new book, Your Church Is Too Small: Why Unity in Christ’s Mission is Vital to the Future of the Church, would! I didn’t actually get the idea from Armstrong (I heard about a similar group in Colorado), but Armstrong confirmed my resolution, and gave me a solid kick in my sectarian, Reformed rear-end.
This a fantastic book! This week marks the official “blog tour” for the book. You can find other reviews at the Koinonia blog.
Here are some highlights:
“My thesis is simple: The road to the future must run through the past” (17). Armstrong is concerned with recovering a true sense of “catholicity,” a vision we share at the Reformed Liturgical Institute.
“True Christian faith is not found in personal religious feelings but in the historical and incarnational reality of a confessing church. Therefore, if we refuse to come to grips with our past, our future will not be distinctively Christian. The result will be new forms of man-made religion that embrace recycled heresies” (18).
Armstrong chronicles his journey into greater catholicity. He stresses the theological and Biblical mandate for unity, and shows how this unity must be Trinitarian–unity in diversity. While Armstrong appreciates the aspects of the “Great Tradition” preserved in the Roman Catholic and Orthodox communions, he does not surrender Reformed distinctives.
What is most encouraging are the stories of actual churches working together in their towns, guided by a shared love of Christ, and motivated by the Spirit that brings ultimate unity (Ephesians 4:4-5).
There are many details to consider, and much more work to be done in this area. Armstrong doesn’t claim to have all the answers. But, he does believe that Jesus actually wants a unified people, and he shows how this is our ultimate apologetic (Jn. 17:22-23). For this, we should all be grateful.