CHURCH OUTSIDE THE WALLS by Raj Samuel
The author, who has held a number of church positions in India and the UK, has done a good job showing the inconsistencies between what a scriptural church is versus what our modern, at least American, church has become. He rightly decries the disillusionment that many have with Christianity by defining it as ‘Churchianity’. His argument is that we must move away from a institutional form of Christianity so that we can rightly represent Jesus to non-Christians.
He begins his argument by showing the unity of God (God is 3 persons but of one essence), the unity of man and the relation between the 2. From there he moves to the fact that each individual is the church and that no one person is more important than another. That the church is not a building, but people. He makes a biblical case for the priesthood of all believers, that all are ministers and not just a select few.
His most interesting (and unique) argument was how we have paganized our concept of the sermon. He says that the NT church was more into “the interactive study of the Word of God” but has now been “ replaced by the Greek Monologue/ Homily”. Thus replacing substance with style, form for content. In the synagogue sermons were not monologue but open for discussion and interaction. The author makes the distinction between teaching and preaching with this quote by C.H. Dodd, “New Testament draws a clear distinction between preaching (kerygma) and teaching (didache)…. Teaching is in a large majority of cases ethical instructions. Preaching, on the other hand, is public proclamation of Christianity to the non-Christian world….while the Church was concerned to hand on the teaching of the Lord, it was not by this (didache teaching) that it made converts. It was by preaching (kerygma).”
The author says the NT church knows nothing of a monologue sermon and this is best evidenced by our lack of spiritual growth, “we witness the adverse effects of this practice - the people neither grow in the Word nor into maturity, but remain spiritual babes.”
The authors point is that preaching is for the unbelievers and that teaching is for the believers. If that is the case, and I would agree with the author, we sure have it turned upside down and my only question/concern is if it would ever be made right.
Though the author does not use history to back up his claims, it easily does. The Salvation Army began by preaching to people out in the streets and my own groups’ founder, John Wesley, began preaching in the fields to the coal miners. Then once they were converted brought them into groups (churches) to teach them.
My only problem with this book is the authors’ own vocational position. It seems that he holds or has held many church offices, which, I assume, he was paid and made his living. Yet he seems to discourage this type of ministry, even using and pushing the tent making ministry of Paul as the proper example of Christian ministry.