The longer I study, the more clarity I get about the fact that Ecclesiology is often the cart pulling the horse of New Testament history AND that House church people are not necessarily doing a whole lot better, as of yet. I say this because T.C. Robinson now has 23 comments on his post about reading Frank Viola's Pagan Christianity. Three of those comments are mine. In responding to a great question from T.C. I reminded myself what got me to this point.
From where I was sitting, I came to believe that our network of house churches had gotten about as far as we were ever going to get, at least, the way things were going. My questions about how to get farther led me back into history, and the work that I came to believe needed doing simply deserves to be done to the hilt. It also deserves to be done without bias. For those reasons, I moved out into the non-church wilderness. Sniff. These days, I get around. But that's a whole other story...
I'm pretty sure my friend Frank was disappointed when I said his hot red book is going to matter much more than his follow up books. Frank's heart is all about a glorious vision, which he is attempting to bring into wider practice. I long for the day when he won't be mostly imagining. However, at this present moment, Pagan Christianity has direct bearing for every Christian on Earth. Tragically, most believers will never get more than a glimpse of what church can become. I'm not sure that I got much more than glimpses in twelve years of trying. But I'm rooting for Frank. For the rest of us, I remain hopeful.
Personally, today, my eggs simply aren't all in one basket. If the Lord plays a flute, we should dance. If the Lord plays a dirge, we should mourn. And - at the risk of complete metaphor overload - the Lord may need for us to let the historical horse run a while on its own, before we can begin to see with more clarity what kinds of ecclesiological carts the New Testament Story might be better at pulling.
The Lord gives individuals visions of simple church, literally, every day. But to get less fuzzy-vague and more helpful-practical, we need to pull back the veil that's been over the scriptures. And that is going to take much more hard work and effort.
Thank you, T.C., for wrestling with these issues. Thank you, Tyndale Publishing House, for encouraging us all to do the same. And thank you, Frank Viola, for being a true paizon. I don't care what your brother said about you. ;-)