THEOLOGY & Scot McKnight on Ecclesiaphobia

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “In my research into emerging and fresh expressions of the church in both North America and England, I have witnessed what Scot McKnight calls ecclesiaphobia. Here is a good introduction to the concept, along with some important concerns.”

by: Scot McKnight, 7/6/15.

In a few of his many writings Roger Scruton wags his finger at the deconstructionists, and he’s concerned especially with Foucault and Rorty and in some measure Derrida. He calls the concern oikophobia. (See his A Political Philosophy or The Need for Nations.) Oikophobia is a Greek term, composed of house/household and fear, and the term is thus used to describe rejection of all things local and home-ish, that is, that which is Western, traditional, the supposed hegemony of bourgeois culture, and what amounts to a Western sense of economy.

To one degree or another the oikophobes become anarchists. Anarchy, by definition, is oikophobia.
Oikophobia, it can be said with utter candor, in the hands of some — I have my eye on a few authors and supposed leaders of the church who in one way or another believe God/Jesus has left the house — has become ecclesiaphobia, a fear of all things connected with the institutional, traditional church. In fact, both terms are suspect: institution and tradition. It must all be done away with, we — I now speak in their mindset — must start all over again, we gather our crowds of the discontented, and then we pretend (for that is all it is) that the institution and the tradition are dying so let’s join in what will be when it will be and we will be its true priests and prophets (most are males.

For sure, some ecclesiaphobes claim they love the church and that is why they are oikophobic ecclesiaphobes, but the fact is that they (1) love only the church constructed in their own mind of idealism and (2) snarl at most or all institutional or traditional forms of the church. Indeed, they are rejecting 99% of the church in the world. The hubris can be breathtaking.

First, we and they only got to the social tolerance and acceptability of their accusations on the basis of the oikos and the ecclesia as it existed in that traditional and institutional form.

Second, ecclesiaphobia operates structurally with a series of denials: it…
(1) nullifies the church is to operate on the basis of the Biblical tradition of Wisdom, made manifest in Christ and in the history of the church through an ongoing accumulation of theology-in-praxis that becomes both the resource and the guide to present and future decisions,
(2) diminishes Scripture as the origin for all theological reflection,
(3) quenches the Pneuma of God (God’s Spirit) over time — that God’s Spirit has been at work in the entire history of the church — as a fund of wisdom and divine guidance or discernment,
(4) minimizes tradition as another fund of theology-in-praxis-over-time and thinks instead starting anew will become a better tomorrow, and
(5) it fundamentally veers in its arrogance from the judgment of the universal, catholic church in the world and believes itself either as the vanguard of where the church ought to be or as so wise that it need not listen to the wisdom of the church universal.

To sum this up, the ecclesiaphobe has denied the sacredness of the church, or put differently, the sacredness of the history of the church. The enviornment of the ecclesiaphobe is de-sacralizing of the past. What gives them energy is belief about the future church.

Read more at … http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2015/07/06/ecclesiaphobia/

MISSIONAL & Are You a Mission Station or a Missional Community? #DonaldMcGavran

by Bob Whitesel, 3/17/15. 

Missiologist Dr. Donald McGavran often criticized the “mission station approach” to missions. Still, if this is the first time you’ve heard the term it doesn’t sound so bad. But a little history about the term and how it was abused can help us be more effective in helping others today.

The “mission station approach” to outreach became a fairly common term to describe how in mission work, a foreign entity (like the Lutheran Church of Germany for example) would set up “mission stations” (such as in South Africa) to reach indigenous peoples.  

The mission station was a little enclave, sort of a transplanted European walled-city, that would provide a microcosm of European Christian culture amid the indigenous peoples of the mission field.  The language in the mission station was the language of the missionaries, and the culture was as well.  The missionaries at the mission station expected the indigenous peoples to come “into” the mission station, learn a European language, dress in European clothes, be taught about Christian culture and accept Jesus.  Needless to say, this was terribly ineffectual.

However, it was not until the great missionary awakening that people like William B. Carrey, Albert Schweitzer, and others popularized the more effective contextualization approach. They argued that you “sift” or evaluate culture, rejecting some elements that are anti-Christ and accept other elements that are morally neutral (see Charles Kraft’s “Christianity and Culture” and Lesslie Newbigin’s “Christ and Culture” for an extended … 300+ page… discussion on this).

A colleague of mine, Dr. Ryan Bolger pointed out in a white paper to the American Society of Church Growth (2002) that today most churches have become “mission stations” in North America: we speak a different language, live a different culture and we expect the unchurched people to come “into” our mission stations and adopt our culture.  This is why Darrel Guder in “Missional Church” (1998) points out that in North America we live in a culture that is hostile to Christianity … thus effectively making churches in North America missionary organizations.  (Guder’s book is an excellent introduction to the missional church … it is a modern contextualization of classic Church Growth principles.  And, it is the most highly regarded book outside of the Bible by emerging post-modern church leaders.)

Thus, I think it strategically judicious to embrace the life of missionaries in the North American context (doing so while embracing strategies that are effectual and successful in missiological experience and contexts).