Engagement : Duane W.H. Arnold, PhD

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28 Responses

  1. Michael says:

    I had a ridiculously simple thought the other day.
    It seems that the early church survived a hostile culture by consistently gathering, consistently praying, and consistently serving the margins of society.
    They were known for love, service, and their separation from the mainstream.
    I’m not sure that this is how we’re viewed today…since we joined the mainstream…

  2. Corby says:

    My spiritual upbringing focused mainly on the individual person and their relationship with Jesus. If a person had a healthy one of those then a natural byproduct of that would be a desire to serve in and outside the church. Duane with an Anglican background talks about the church and what it means to be the church. BTW, I don’t think the focus needs to be one over the other, it’s both/and. In one only/mostly focuses on the church, the church turns into a club of people who are doing what they ought to do and eventually fighting about carpet color. If one only/mostly focuses on the individual, the church turns into a community theater trying to get people into the seats and entertaining them into service. These are both bad.

    We need people who have been genuinely converted individually to come together and act collectively as a church. People who have been lovingly convicted of their sin by the Spirit, embrace the gospel, genuinely and humbly love Jesus and let that be the motivator of their lives. I honestly think this is largely what is missing. You can’t make it happen in either high or low church. But if that basic element of life and alive-ness isn’t present, it’s just a powerless culture. It’s Revelation 2:1-8, losing your first love, but many people have not experienced that first love in the first place.

  3. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael

    More and more, the early Church model is what I turn to in my thinking. We will most likely never recover our place in mainstream culture… and maybe that is for the best…

  4. Michael says:

    Corby,

    Well said.
    I think it easier to accomplish in liturgical churches…because the pastors/priests are just interchangeable parts serving the congregation instead of the focus of the service themselves.

  5. Michael says:

    Duane,

    I would argue that we’ve found our place in the mainstream…and it’s destroying us.
    We’re no longer “culturally Christian” but we have a place of power and influence…and we prefer that to our actual calling…

  6. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael

    I think “they” have a place of power and influence. I think “we” have lost that place…

  7. Michael says:

    Duane,

    I concur! 🙂

  8. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    This is not a “christianity” problem, it is a religion problem. Religion has no positive status in the western world.
    Every religious group has lost numbers in major proportions.

    Western society has given God the finger saying “we can do it ourselves.”

  9. Jean says:

    Duane,

    “From all appearances and indicators, it seems that we are steadily moving toward a post-Christian society in America”

    This is a sad development, indeed. I am, however, more concerned about the indicators that what we are seeing more and more of in America is a post-Christian church (in its various expressions). This weekend I saw a tweet from Union Seminary regarding their new liturgy of praying and confessing to plants.

  10. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    I saw that as well. It makes me wonder how we have come to this time and place. I think it started with the desire for a “place of relevance” in modern society. Then it moved to simply being a “reflection” of modern society. Now, it seems that many churches and seminaries wish to be out “in advance of society” and, as a result, have become eccentric and, frankly, rather silly.

  11. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Interesting – why do we call it silly and not just flat out apostasy?
    I am sure if they indicate they confess Christ, I am sure they have no better comprehension of the creeds than they do the Christian concept of confession.

  12. Duane Arnold says:

    Apostasy can at least be taken seriously… Confessing to plants is just silly.

  13. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Duane, you have a higher bar of what passes as following Christ.
    I do not see this as some initial step in rejecting Jesus. I see this as the final step.
    Full blown apostasy.

  14. Duane Arnold says:

    Apart from this taking place in a seminary chapel, I don’t actually see this as having anything to do with Christianity. It’s on the same level as English cathedrals installing miniature golf courses in the nave this last summer. No real theology, just being silly and stupid…

  15. “We have to provide what society at large cannot provide or, in some cases, what society at large has set aside. Rather than being a mere reflection of the society… ”

    Like The Whosoevers?

    Regarding anti-intellectualism, maybe part of this is a reaction (right or wrong) to decades of attacks upon anything more than the weakest, milquetoast spirituality by materialists and “pagans.” Any opinions on the spiritual aspect of this? Like, we aren’t fighting against flesh and blood? Sounds like i need to read that book though…

  16. Em says:

    I was never sucked in by the “Late Great Planet..” movement for a variety of reasons, but i see way too many signs that civilization, like that old king of Babylon, really does think that they and their achievments are rather grand – that they can indeed save the world… and it just may be very close to the end of the Church Age (apologies to the nons) Everything from the Navy saying that, yes, there are “things” flying around out there that we can’t identify to those mutilated cattle showing up again, to rumors of Artificial Intelligence wonders to come, to gene splicing… really setting the stage for Satan’s last paranormal stand of wonders….
    But God can always rewind the clock – praying that the Holy Spirit can still reach souls with the wonder and truth of that Calvary event of some 2,000 years ago

  17. Em, I bought into The Late, Great, Planet Earth when I was a teen. Then I read his rapture book, and even as a teenager, I was turned off by his talk about how many crowns of righteousness Hal would have in heaven. Maybe? So? Why talk about it?

  18. Josh says:

    “More and more, the early Church model is what I turn to in my thinking.”

    Reading Schaff’s Church History today – Still in the first volume, apostolic era –

    Schaff points out that the early Christian church followed the tabernacle model adding a Gospel presentation and readings from available New Testament documents.
    When congregations were majority gentile, there was a new, distinct, tradition started.

    Question is for Duane, but anyone else is welcome to give thoughts:

    Would there be value for 21st century American believers to try to recover some of the 1st century tabernacle practice (though not much is specific information is available), or would we be strictly looking towards the post-tabernacle early church?

  19. Duane Arnold says:

    Josh

    I think the shift began to take place after the destruction of Jerusalem. The shift included majority Gentile congregations and a move toward the style of worship (eucharistic) that we find in the early second century, by which time it appears to have become normative – Ignatius, Clement, etc. To be honest, we know little about worship in the apostolic era apart from the NT. Then again, even synagogue worship is somewhat speculative until after the bar-Kobah revolt in the 130s…

  20. Jean says:

    I think Acts, Paul’s Corinthian letters, and the book of Hebrews gives us a good amount of insight into worship in the apostolic era.

    Also, I haven’t read the Schaff book, so I don’t know what is meant by “tabernacle model,” but if the tabernacle was built off the pattern of the heavenly tabernacle shown Moses on Mt. Sinai, then there is no reason to believe that later worship wouldn’t follow the pattern to a degree, taking into account Christ’s fulfillment of various elements.

  21. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    We can piece together elements from the NT, but it does not give us fuller descriptions such as we find in the second century…

  22. Jean says:

    Duane,

    I have nothing against the second century. Do you see worship in the second century as a movement away from the elements we can piece together in the NT? Would you care to elaborate?

  23. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean,

    I don’t see it as a “movement away” from the apostolic era, but as a development. Continuing in prayers and the breaking of bread, took on additional elements, such as reading from the “memoirs of the Apostles” (the Gospels) which were not generally available (obviously) in the apostolic era. So again, it is part of the development of elements that were already there. The same can be seen in worship spaces. We go from house churches to houses remodeled specifically for worship, such as Dur-Europa, with specific defined places indicating yet another development…

  24. Josh says:

    Duane, are you saying that the shift had more to do with the destruction of Jerusalem, and less to do with Gentile believers getting away from distinctly Jewish practices?

  25. Duane Arnold says:

    Josh

    Most studies I have encountered indicate that after the fall of Jerusalem, Jewish communities became increasingly restrictive as they formed diaspora synagogues. At about the same time, the early church was becoming increasingly Gentile in its makeup and (this is important) the Christians saw the destruction of Jerusalem as a definitive break with any former Jewish identity. This had already started in urban centers such as Rome. You may remember, that during Nero’s persecution in AD64, the Christians were very much a distinct group, apart from the Jewish community, with their own practices and meeting places…

  26. Josh says:

    Very good, thanks.

    Shaff also spoke of the conserving force of the synagogue, with a reference to Christian churches as well.

    I don’t think most modern churches see ourselves as conserving something for future generations.

  27. Duane Arnold says:

    Josh

    Yes, the synagogue was, essentially, all that was left, especially after AD130. I agree with you, we tend to be about the “here and now”, with little thought given to what we leave behind us…

  28. Josh says:

    That was really my take away as I read Schaff this morning, with your article still in mind. My son takes Shorin Ru karate. It is a traditional martial-Art with a long lineage from teacher to teacher. Their class time is spent learning and doing things, to the best they can discern, just like the first practitioners did it. They base success not on innovation, but on how well they preserve the tradition.

    My problem come in that if I talked to my church about preserving traditions, they’d be all on-board. As long as we started in 1950’s Southern Baptist tradition. That is the true practice handed down from the apostles as far as they are concerned.

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