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Chronological Paralysis |First Thoughts 4/4

What follows is one article in a series of 4 articles about ARC that I wrote in 2020 while contemplating the state of the modern Christian Church. These half formed thoughts will eventually become concepts like Symbiotic Organisation, The 3 Mindsets, The Christian’s Bill of Rights and others. At the time I shared them via Tuesday Night Discipleship and then the newly formed Ammi Ruhama Community.

Ideal for getting acquainted with our thought process at Ammi Ruhama Community

Imagine, if you will, a world where…

Zondervan publishing house is publishing J.M. Bradley, the hot new evangelical theologian/evangelist on the scene. They are publishing his flagship book called, You’re Doing It All Wrong – 5 Mistakes Every New Believer Makes and How to Grow Like Crazy 5000 churches in your country take up this New York Times bestseller book and it revolutionizes the way that new believers grow in the church based on Bradley’s advice.

15 years later

J.M. Bradley is in the news again! His now 10 book series, You’re Doing It All Wrong, ranges from his flagship book to New Believers which sold 1 million copies and counting to his latest in the series aimed at Church Leaders but he’s been kicked out of his mega-church for being a priggish nutjob of a man that controls the people around him. It is an all too common story and you can guess what happens next.

Theological Fallout

Bradley loses his leadership position. He is denounced by the members of his church, his publisher stops printing his books and another man takes his place to try and clean up the mess left in that one church body. The empire and organization that grew around J.M. Bradley has come crashing down but the ruins will be found in the far stretches of the church for generations. People may never mention Bradley’s name again aside from the odd scathing WordPress theological book review, but Bradley made his mark on the Christian church and aided the growth of innumerable symbiotic organizations that grew from when the first pastor picked up his first J.M. Bradley book.

Your Point Is…

This is what we are dealing with today in the Church of God, only with 2000 years Church thought and history and extra-biblical authors and commentators and pastors and elders and deacons and anybody with a decent WordPress following preserving theological ruins that have long supplanted the Word as source one for our life and practice in the church.

Chronological Snobbery

C.S. Lewis has said that if we truly want to escape Chronological snobbery; the belief that now is better than before and later still will be better than now, then we have to be as critical of the present as we are of the past.

I believe that the Christian Church, however, struggles not with chronological snobbery but with chronological paralysis. We take both the past and the present and swallow them whole having a theoretical theology built upon past beliefs of the church and a practical theology that sees us operate the church like a massive tiered organization of structures and implements and staff that isn’t remotely recognizable from the church of the New Testament that every new plant says that it is going back to, but 10-15 years down the line ends up paralyzed like the rest of the church. We are paralyzed at this moment from doing exactly what C.S. Lewis advised which was to turn back the clock that is telling the wrong time–like, all the way. To go back to the start of the maths problem, the head of the trail, whichever analogy of his you want to use.

Where Do We Go From Here

I pull from Lewis because he was brave enough to suggest that where we are going might be the wrong direction and that we may have been on this path for some time.

Lewis assumes that we are ever moving on a timeline either forwards or backward in our thinking and that progress is moving closer to our goal and doesn’t necessarily mean moving forward. However, I believe that, in the current climate, we are like the universe ever-expanding both forwards and backward and that movement is an illusion because we are going nowhere at all because we have become so theologically obese that we couldn’t move, even if we wanted to.

What Now?

The above is our state of affairs–at least how I see them. We were afraid of becoming chronological snobs so we consumed the innumerable books that the end of Ecclesiastes warns us about and now we are so theologically fat and happy that we feel no need to move for at least until the next book is published and we consume that as well.

What Can We Do?

All change starts with repentance. It starts in our own hearts and when we have repented we can come together in the fellowship of the Father and work out our salvation with fear and trembling instead of copy and paste.

There are a few who resist this meaningless expansion–join us! Help us define the church in purely biblical terms, and extract ourselves from the mass of potential energy that is blocking the road to obedience in the lives of so many believers.

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