The Future of the Churches of Christ: Ancient-Future Assembly, Part 4

I need to, at last, turn to Robert E. Webber’s Ancient-Future Worship: Proclaiming and Enacting God’s Narrative, in which he proposes a fresh direction for the Christian assembly. He writes (p. 40),

Worship–daily, weekly, yearly–is rooted in the gospel. And when worship fails to proclaim, sing, and enact at the Table the Good News that God not only saves sinners but also narrates the whole world, it is not only worship that becomes corrupted by the culture, it is also the gospel. Not only has worship lost its way, but the fullness of the gospel, the story which worship does, has been lost.

Amen. We are to worship in Spirit and in truth, and “truth” refers to the gospel, the truth that Jesus  lived, taught, and is. Worship is all about the gospel.

The issue that all of us need to deal with is the reduction and fragmentation of God’s whole story. The full story is that of the work of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. God creates, becomes involved with creation, and is made incarnate into time, space, and history in order to redeem and restore the world as the garden of God’s habitation and people as his community of love and fellowship.

In summary, here is what biblical worship does: It remembers God’s work in the past, anticipates God’s rule over all creation, and actualizes both past and future in the present to transform persons, communities, and the world.

(p. 43). That sure seems to be a lot to ask of a one-hour assembly! But if we don’t teach God’s story during the assembly, our membership is not going to learn it — and they certainly won’t understand how their lives fit into God’s story.

Look at the five early Christian sermons in the book of Acts –every one of them is based on the memory of how God has acted in history and has now acted in Jesus Christ to rescue the world from sin and death (see Acts 2:14-36; 3:12-26; 4:8-12; 5:29-32; 7:2-53).

(p. 47). Webber urges us to remember God’s mighty deeds on our behalves in preaching, in reciting creeds, and in song. Interestingly, he finds the “creeds” that should be recited in the text of the New Testament, such as —

(1Ti 3:16 ESV)  16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.

To these he adds dramatic reenactment, especially in the Lord’s Supper —

The Lord’s Supper is the worship ritual that reenacts Christ’s sacrifice of himself for the sins of the world. It is the primary way of reenacting the sacrifice of Christ that fulfills all Hebrew sacrificial expectations.

(p. 52). Finally, Webber urges the church to honor the Christian calendar, as way to remember critical events in our salvation history: Easter, Pentecost, etc.

Webber adds that the assembly should reflect how living today reflects our hope for eternity.

“Dear friends,” [Peter] writes as an immediate follow-up to his instruction on worship, “I urge you as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (1 Peter 2:11-12). Not only does worship point to the culmination of all history in the new heavens and new earth, but it also shapes the ethical behavior of God’s people to reflect kingdom ethics here on earth. Consequently, the ethical life of the church is an eschatological witness to the world of how people should be living and how the world will be under the reign of God.

(pp. 65-66). In contrast to his proposals, Webber criticizes modern trends —

In many of our churches today there is a neglect of remembrance in worship. It arises from the loss of attention to the whole Bible. A shift has taken place toward a focus on therapeutic or inspirational preaching and to the rise of entertainment or presentational worship. Pastors and church leaders would do well to return to the Scriptures and be more faithful to the biblical emphasis on remembrance that is found in the ancient liturgies of the church. One does not need to become liturgical to become more biblical in worship. Remembrance of God’s actions in history to save the world can be effectively done in a spontaneous way as well. When planning worship ask, “Does the service connect creation with God’s involvement in the history of Israel, with his incarnation, death, resurrection, ascension, eternal intercession, and coming again to establish his rule over all creation?” If you can answer “Yes” to that question, you are well on your way into worship that has the biblical content of remembrance and anticipation.

(pp. 70-71). Tell me if the following doesn’t sound familiar —

The contemporary chorus movement is not a theologically sensitive movement. If anything, it is atheological. At first, passages of Scripture, especially the Psalms, were put to music. The movement was soon influenced by the culture of narcissism, however, and the songs became more and more about me and my worship of God. The biblical story clarified in this book has attempted to show that worship is about God: God’s wonder, mystery, and majesty; his wonderful story of rescuing his creatures and creation. The great majority of choruses, however, are about me. How much I love God and want to serve him. How I worship him, glorify him, magnify him, praise him, and lift him up. The focus seems to be on self-generated worship. God is made the object of my affection, and worship is measured by how strongly I am able to feel this gratitude and express it to God.

(p. 84).

Seeker-oriented contemporary churches argue that worship does not need to present the whole gospel. The purpose of worship, they say, is to get people in the door. Then, after they have gained a hearing, they present the gospel in small-group settings. This argument may be good marketing, but it fails to understand the biblical purpose of worship. Worship brings glory to God because it remembers God’s saving deeds in the past and anticipates God’s culmination of his saving deeds in the new heavens and new earth.

(p. 85).

The delight of worship is not:

“That was a great program!”

“I loved the music today.”

“What an entertaining sermon:”

“I really felt like I was worshiping today.”

“That sure was fun dancing around, shouting `Amen!’ and giving my neighbor a high five:”

These descriptions ultimately are a delight in self as if “I did it; I broke through; I really worshiped:” Worship that generates that kind of response is not worship. True worship generates the sense of:

“What a great story!”

“I can’t believe that God would do that for the world and for me.”

“What a God to become human and to restore all things through Christ:”

(p. 110). Webber thus urges a renewed emphasis on the communion —

How do bread and wine draw us into a participation in the life of God in the world? Bread and wine disclose the union we have with Jesus, which is not a mere standing but a true and real participation lived out in this life as we become the story of God in this world individually in all our ways and corporately as the people of God. First, we ingest bread and wine. Then, in contemplation we look on with steadfast delight in all that bread and wine disclose. And then in participation, we reach out and see the whole world in the hands of God. We lift the Alpha and Omega to our mouth. We take God’s whole story into our stomach, let it run through our bloodstream, let it then energize our entire living-our relationships, our work, our pleasure; all of life is now to be lived as Jesus lived his life. As he took into himself the suffering of all humanity, so we are to take into ourselves the suffering of the world and do something about it. As he rose above all that is evil in the world through his resurrection, so we too are to rise to the new life by the Spirit of God. All our death to sin and rising to life finds its true and ultimate meaning in him who lives in us, living in our sufferings, living in our struggles with evil, living in our resurrections to new life.

(p. 147).

What is ancient-future worship? Well, it’s taking seriously how the early church worshiped in their assemblies, not as rule books or patterns of acts of worship, but as exemplars of the heart of worship.

The goal is not to decide how many songs and prayers we need, but what is the content of the assembly to be? Is the assembly purely about teaching? music? a feeling?

Webber suggests that the heart of the assembly is a retelling of the Story — the true story of what God has done, is doing, and will do for man. And this closely parallels Deuteronomy, when the Israelite ekklesia was called together to be reminded of God’s mighty works and to renew their covenants with him.

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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20 Responses to The Future of the Churches of Christ: Ancient-Future Assembly, Part 4

  1. Doug says:

    My Church is reading and telling the Story using the book “The Story”, foreword by Max Lucado and Randy Frazee. There are 31 chapters in “The Story” and we are covering one chapter per week. There are visual aids to start the recounting of the weeks chapter and it’s a contemporary approach to the Story, for sure but it allows a church to tell the story from beginning to end in 31 weeks. It’s not a complete story telling but it does cover the basics of the Story and how many of us have heard the story told to any level of completeness in our Church in the last year? It’s worth a look at and I certainly think it is good for my church as there are many new Christians there who only know part of the story. Incidently, all of the Church children and teenagers included are studying “The Story”. It’s worth considering. It’s at least a start.

  2. aBasnar says:

    The cults of Mithras, Isis, Dionysus etc…. were also retelling a story. The way Webber argues might as well lead us back to a ritualistic mystery religion, whose formulas and liturgies may contain some spirituality – but that’s not what I see described as sound teaching in the New Testament. I say this as one who emphasizes the ancient ways.


  3. Bob Brandon says:

    “I say this as one who emphasizes the ancient ways…”

    The “ancient ways” some emphasize now are little more than Puritan lectureships essentially preserved some 400+ years: they were considered innovations by the Elizabethan Anglicans. To gainsay efforts to recapitulate it now as some sort of potential modern pagan mystery cult misunderstands both the pagans and the early church.

  4. Grizz says:


    Just wondering … do you have the necessary permissions to quote so extensively from Webber’s book? I see that this is Part 4 in a series, so perhaps you cited those permissions earlier, but it seems to me that you should be repeating that notice with each post that quotes as much as you do here.

    Just wondering … Has Webber ever considered that there was more one-another edifying going on during those earliest assemblies? The Christ we see in the gospels assembling daily with His disciples was teaching them how to live – not just how to act when they were consciously addressing themselves to God in praise. Is He not the one teacher who practiced best what God wills and wants for US? Why is it our assemblies are not more like the ones Jesus and the Twelve enjoyed day by day? In fact, isn’t that exactly what we see being described in the early chapters and even the later chapters of Luke’s book of Acts???

    Are we so used to age of enlightenment liturgical assemblies that we cannot engage the thought of any other kind?

    Webber is an interesting read … but I find him too wrapped up in 16th-20th century liturgical finery to consider him a serious student of our Lord and His disciples’ habits in assembly. It is good to go back historically, but it is even better to go back to the right era in history to see the practices in context.

    Just thinking out loud …


  5. Jay Guin says:


    The quotes are from Kindle. The software limits how much you may quote based on permissions from the publisher. I’m well within the pre-approved limitations.

    I think Webber has some useful insights, but I certainly don’t endorse the entirety of his work. What I like is his emphasis on the totality of God’s story.

    He also looks at the ECFs for liturgical insights — not just the Reformers.

    I’m just trying to get out the 19th Century Frontier Revivalism box and to look at other practices and traditions — not as patternistic laws but as instructive examples from others who also love God.

  6. Grizz says:


    The reason I asked about the quotes is that it was pointed out to me that the quotation limit in some software is only geared to count each individual quote and not to count the aggregate total of all the quotations when multiple quotations are used. So while each individual quote may fall within the prescribed limits, the total of all the quotes can exceed the prescribed limits while still being allowed by certain software limiters. I have no idea whether the Kindle software catches the difference or not, so I thought it worth mentioning.

    I agree that we need to get out of the 19th century assembly model, but I am not so sure that what Webber offers is any better. Perhaps a better approach would be to see the historic models of the first century and make whatever adaptations suits them to our 21st century applications. It seems to me that rehashing liturgical approaches still leaves us in a liturgical approach, which although very comfortable due to familiarity for most of us is still not very closely related to what Jesus was talking about with the Samaritan woman in John 4 – which you referenced and quoted. I do not advocate a house-based-only approach, as I believe this misses the point of what Jesus was saying nearly as much as as a liturgical approach does. I am advocating that we know why we practice the way we do and follow Jesus more while looking sideways at others less. It might be uncomfortable, but who ever said following Jesus was supposed to make us feel comfortable? Besides that, if following Jesus’ habits makes us feel uncomfortable, what does that say about the way we have always done things?

    Again, just thinking out loud here and hoping to encourage us to think things through a bit more,


  7. Grizz says:

    By the way, Jay …

    Using a copy-and-paste approach to utilize the word count feature in my licensed copy of MS Word 2007, I came up with a total word count of 1,209 for all of the material in italics in this article. I realize that is a rather crude method, but it is a good guide when attempting to determine whether you have exceeded the copyright permissions for quotations without special permissions from the author(s)/publishers of a work.

    As indicated above, I do not know whether the Kindle software is reliable in recognizing the totality of multiple quotations. So you may indeed be well within the prescribed limits. Having done a little bit of research again just now on this subject, it is clear that there is no numerical number or percentage of words used from copyrighted materials that would establish fair use and, in general, the forum here is one that is usually (but not always) allowed to use perhaps more of the materials than other kinds of uses would be allowed. Still, for my own general use I try to never exceed 250 words from a copyrighted work without making an attempt to obtain permission. Permission to use more of the material is often very easy to get and establishes a relationship of sorts with some very interesting people.

    So why do I use the 250 word rule? Simply because it was the acceptable limit for my undergraduate studies. I also use it because any section longer than that can be summarized and so effectively avoid infringing on the desire of others to buy the author’s work. Infringing on the desire of others to buy a book so as to reduce overall sales is one of the extremely bad violations of the copyright laws and does not depend on the length of the quotations at all.

    Another rule I have encountered is the one I must currently observe in my graduate studies: any work I produce must be at least 70% my own and never as much as 30% direct quotations from any and all sources cited. Even paraphrasing is counted as quoting the work of others. Book reviews are not excepted from those standards, either way. On this last point I am afraid you would quite certainly fail – though I did appreciate the thoughts you inserted that were your own.

    I doubt that Webber will be pressing a lawsuit anytime soon, especially since most authors are just happy their works are being read. Besides, the only sale he might not get from this review is probably mine and I doubt one book sale lost would be considered injurious enough to warrant a finding of unfair usage. Frankly, I probably would not have purchased the book anyway. And perhaps that is my loss.



  8. Jay Guin says:


    I’ve been poking around on Amazon. It appears that the publisher can set whatever limit it wishes, with the default being 10% of the total text. Some publishers allow 0%. Some allow much more than 10%. There may also be a default limit of 25 total quotations. Amazon does not publish the limits.

    From a legal standpoint, the publisher would surely be held to have consented as fair use to whatever limits it grants. After all, a publisher could have prohibited all copying.

    Stated more precisely, Kindle doesn’t sell you a book but a license. The terms of the license are nowhere to be found in writing but, rather, are buried in the software. But you’ve bought whatever you’ve bought. They’ve licensed the reader the right to copy X% of the text or to clip the text X times. That’s the terms of the license, and the publisher could not complain that a reader exercises rights granted under a license written by the publisher and paid for by the customer.

  9. aBasnar says:

    Webber suggests:

    Look at the five early Christian sermons in the book of Acts –every one of them is based on the memory of how God has acted in history and has now acted in Jesus Christ to rescue the world from sin and death.

    What he and most others confuse is the striking difference between preaching and teaching. Kerysso – proclaiming the Gospel, commonly translated as “preaching” – is ALWAYS directed to people outside the Kingdom. While teaching – disdasko – is directed to the disciples. An example: Christ did NOT deliver a sermon on that mountain, but He sat down (!) and taught (!) His disciples (!).

    In other words: These five sermons, Webber points to, tell us nothing about the Christian assembly. Nothing except on which truths their teaching is built. But the teaching within the church is more like e.g. Acts 20, as Paul addressed the elders. Or acts 14:22 which sums up a teaching for the church in one verse. Or you may look at the epistles that were read in the assembly; or the gospels as a whole. In fact reading the scripture played a key role. Not just one little paragraph to cross off an act from our check list, but systematically making the word of God known to a partly illiterate church.

    But aside of that, prophesying – defined as in 1Co 14:3 – played a major role in the assembly; and here the “one another” is important. The whole setting is different than we envision it: Church is around a table, interactive and – SHOCKING NEWS – it is NOT limited to ONE SHORT hour!

    What will never work and never be saitsfying: If we want to keep our church system and try to “renovate” it by crafting some ancient features to it. This will always be anachronistic and weird; like each one may stand up and share a word in an assembly of 2000. That’s not the setting in which “one anothering” is applicable.

    Radically spoken: Unless we tear down or sell our buildings and downsize dramatically we will never ever restore the New Testament church fully. And this leaves us dissatisfied, yearning for authentic church life, while still holding fast to a system that would not allow it.

    One aspect: Our formal “public” meetings with their “preaching” are designed to “preach the Gospel” – that’s the underlying expectation of many. That’s why we have once in a while a debate on open or closed communion, BTW. But the Christian assembly is for those who already have responded to the Gospel, it is not “public” (=> closed communion). But since we have this “Constantinian Confusion” we somehow expect the Gospel to be preached in worship. Therefore Webbers insistance on the whole “narrative” – crammed, as Jay feels – into one hour. But that’s not NT church.


  10. Bob Brandon says:

    aBasnar writes: “What he and most others confuse is the striking difference between preaching and teaching.”

    So do us all a favor and show us in the text where the inspired writers strike such a difference.

  11. Grizz says:


    Thanks for the aside concerning publishing excerpts. It may have only been you and I, but I have grown in understanding from the exercise. I guess one could say I have gotten an education about my education. LOL


    I appreciate the heart and passion behind your statements. I join with Bob, however, in asking you to make it clear for us exactly where in scripture you see a public group/private group separation of heralding/proclaiming and teaching/discourse. Share a brief or detailed look at what you feel makes it such a clear demarcation between these activities. And please note, I am disputing that there could be such a distinction, but am only asking for your reasons for thinking there is.

    Thank you,


  12. Grizz says:

    I left out a word when I wrote: “And please note, I am disputing that there could be such a distinction, but am only asking for your reasons for thinking there is.”

    I intended to write: “And please note, I am NOT disputing that there could be such a distinction, but am only asking for your reasons for thinking there is.”

    Please pardon my rather significant blunder. My apologies for any confusion, Abasnar.


  13. aBasnar says:

    I join with Bob, however, in asking you to make it clear for us exactly where in scripture you see a public group/private group separation of heralding/proclaiming and teaching/discourse.

    The answer has several levels:

    First, it can be seen in the ministry of our Lord Himself.

    Mat 13:10 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?”
    Mat 13:11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.

    Mat 13:18 Hear then the parable of the sower:

    Mat 13:36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.”

    The second is the difference between proclaiming the Gospel (kerysso) which means heralding the Kingdom of God and teaching (didasko) the disciples. Christ did both, and both required their own “setting”.

    This leads to third: Public and in the houses. Look at these two examples:

    Act 5:42 Every day they spent time in the temple and in one home after another. They never stopped teaching and telling the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.
    Act 20:20 When I preached in public or taught in your homes, I didn’t hold back from telling anything that would help you.

    Please do note the two ways of communication (preaching and teaching) and the two different settings (public/Temple and in the houses). This, in the light of Christ’s own ministry is significant.

    Last not least: The content of what is said! Read the “Teaching on the Mount” and you’ll notice that it is already based on a father-chilkdren of God relationship. This instruction would never work for unregenerated persons. Furthermore not metion is made of the atonement or of repentance either! No call for making a decision – the disciples addressed in teh treaching are spoken to as citicens of the Kingdom and chidren ofthe Heavenly Father. And compare this, for instance, with Mat 11:28-30! What a difference in the audience, the purpose, the content of what is being said!

    Think it through … You can’t really have both in one sermon.


  14. aBasnar says:

    P.S.: If anyone wants to preach, let him do this outside the church building; on the market places and streets. But let the assembly be a place of instructin for the disciples so they will be eqiooed for the ministry and every good work.

  15. Charles McLean says:

    I think we are looking at a distinction here without an applicable difference. Preachers do teach, teachers often preach, believers often need to be encouraged by the fundamental message of the gospel, and unbelievers have a hundred questions which require an interactive setting, not a declarative one. While it may well be that one can create two distinct definitions, there is so much crossover in application that I can’t see why one would worry about the difference.

  16. Jerry says:

    Some years back there was a serious attempt in mainline Protestantism to distinguish between the keregma and the didaskalia – that is between the gospel and the teaching. The problem was that this divorces teaching the church from the firm foundation of the gospel. When we remember that Paul said to the Corinthian church, “I determined to know nothing among you, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2), we can see the need for continued gospel proclamation to the church. When we separate our teaching – at any level – from the good news contained in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, we begin to stand on the sand instead of the firm foundation that is Jesus.

    Our real problem is that we preach moralisms more than we preach the good news when we are preaching/teaching the church, and we proclaim the church more than we proclaim the Christ when attempting to evangelize.

  17. aBasnar says:

    “I determined to know nothing among you, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2)

    But, Jerry, this is referring to his evangelism in Corinth! BTW I don’t mean to separate/ divorce teaching from the Gospel. Didaskalia is based on the Euaggelion. But we don#t “herald” a teaching – so the way of communicating is even different. A herald would stand on the market place shouting: “People of York, hear the word of our Souiverign Lord: “My Son art Thou!” …” That’s not the way a teacher addresses his pupils, nor the master, Christ, spoke with his disciples. Teaching – in fact – had often been in the form of a dialogue (e.g. Acts 20:7-11 – Paul “dialogued” with the brethren). So first even the form is very different.

    Second the contet differs greatly. Even though it is based on the Gospel, in teaching we expand and deepen the implications and application of the Gospel. Well do I remember a discussion with an elder about 20 years ago. I asked Him, why don’t our women cover their heads? His reply (aside from the typical eisegetical excuses) was: The unbelieving guests would be offended. Well, this made me think and it was this word that brought me to the conclusion: THe teaching is for the churcha nd not for those outside the church! Paul did not go through the streets of Corinth selling headcpoverings, but preaching the cross. Yet in the church he told them about the significance of headship based on the Gospel as Christ entered the order of Creation through His incarnation (1Co 11:3) which shall be remembered and put before our eyes by uncovering (men) and covering (women) our heads. That’s church-teaching, not Gospel preaching. And you don’t herald such topics on the market places, but you teach them in the houses.

    In other words: Traditional understanding of worship as a “public event” to which we invite our friends sio they may hear the Gospel is … dead wrong, brothers! We may hold evangelistic meetings, that’s commendable, but that’s a different setting, and we don’t break bread in such meetings, do we?

    Practically this would mean, we’d have to have meetings fort he whole church only to teach and discuss the implications and applications of the Gospel for those who are commtted to the Gospel. Traditional worship services who try to serve both needs (teaching and evangelism) are in danger of two things: Making the Gospel too complicated for outsiders (in order to challenge the believers as well) and making the teaching too fragmentary for insiders (in order to not offend outsiders). This simply is not good, nor is it according to the example of Christ and His apostles.


  18. Grizz says:

    Wow … are we good at talking all around a point without addressing it much (if at all), or what?

    Abasnar, answering simply … I am not convinced by the passages you cited that assemblies were either/or in regards to didaskalia and euaggelion or kerygma.

    Jerry, I am not convinced by the evidence you submitted that there is necessarily and without variation any reason to believe that the Gospels must be left out of one or the other when didaskalia and euggelion or kerygma might be held separate.

    To accept either Abasnar’s or Jerry’s evidence is to see a tension between teaching and preaching that does not necessarily ensue from either or both being practiced in BOTH public and private settings.

    Frankly, I am still more inclined to agree with Charles that any separation between the practices of didakalia, euggelion, and kerygma due to place or composition of those meeting is an unnecessary conclusion. The styles of presentation are distinct, certainly, but no more so than the differences between varying medias of communications practiced today – each appealing more to certain audiences and audience members, very situationally and individually and uniquely determined, than are others. We find similar distinctions between various kinds of written communications (e.g., a legal brief is distinctly different from a personal letter which is distinctly different from a newspaper article which is distinctly different from a memorandum which is distinctly different from a Tweet … and on and on) as we do between various types of verbal and/or visual communications (e.g., a commercial is distinct from a radio talk show which is distinct from a political speech which is distinct from a play which is distinct from a musical which is distinct from a voicemail which is distinct from a documentary movie narration … and on and on).

    Narrow interpretations in these matters speak as much to the limited perspectives of the interpreters as they do to any inherent limitations indicated within the texts. It seems to me that there is an unbalanced perspective or perhaps more than one at the center of this discussion rather than a focused attention on the message itself.

    Of course, I speak and write from within a flesh-wrapper full of imperfections and infused with the same spirit of God as do you, so if I am seeing imbalances in others it is likely because I recognize them from my own periods of introspective observance of my own less than persuasive musings.

    May God give us the clarity we seek in ways that surprise us and draw us closer to Him and one another,


  19. Jerry says:


    I agree that we have diminished worship by trying to combine teaching for the church and evangelism for the unbeliever. Some of this, no doubt, has come about because much of our evangelism has been attempts to teach believers (in “the denominations”) the way of the Lord more perfectly instead of trying to proclaim faith in Jesus as the reigning King of the Universe.

    Yet, even in Corinth, Paul insisted that the church stands on the gospel which he had first proclaimed to them as the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. My point is that when we make a strong distinctions between moral teaching based ultimately on what? Reason? Law? Authority? Tradition? While all of these are important, if our teaching is not ultimately based on the good news of the kingdom and its King, it is doomed to fail. Yet, the connection between the teaching of the church and the gospel, is seldom made explicit.

    Even in worship, I frequently hear men presiding at the Lord’s Table say things such as, “Now, separate and apart from the Lord’s Supper, as a convenient time, we now will take up the offering.” What a travesty! What that is Christian can be “separate and apart” from what we remember in the Lord’s Supper? By speaking in this way we tend to remove our giving from the sacrifice of Jesus, which I am sure nearly all of us will agree tends to cheapen it and make our giving much less sacrificial.

    Please excuse my venting about one of my pet peeves, but when too much is made of a difference between teaching and proclamation, except in methodology and depth of content, I see red flags of dangerous territory. Alexander, if I misunderstood the intent of your comment, please forgive me.

  20. Jerry says:


    I did not see your post above until after I had written my reply to Alexander, whose name (I believe) is Alexander Basnar. Had I seen it, I would have included you in those comments.

    In spite of not having seen it, you make the same point I have tried to make: when too much is made of a difference between teaching and proclamation, except in methodology and depth of content, I see red flags. One of our problems in Evangelism is that we attempt to answer all questions about the church as a part of the evangelistic message. Such is not gospel proclamation. Yet, if we forsake the gospel as the basis for our understanding of the church, we have left the foundation on which we are to stand.

    Hopefully, this will clarify what I first tried to say to Alexander. The foundation of both proclamation (evangelism) and teaching (to the church) must always be the gospel. Alexander was right in saying that 1 Cor 2:2 speaks of Paul’s initial evangelism when he came to Corinth. Yet, 1 Cor 15:1-4 maintains that the same message is that on which they, and we, must continue to stand, lest they, and we, fall.

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