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The Future Lies in the Past…

February 15, 2008

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Here is an excerpt from a story in the most recent issue of Christianity Today.  The article is entitled…

The Future Lies in the Past

Why evangelicals are connecting with the early church as they move into the 21st century. 

From Dallas Willard, Richard Foster, and living, practicing monks and nuns, they must learn both the strengths and the limits of the historical ascetic disciplines.

From Tom Oden, D. H. Williams, and living, practicing Eastern Orthodox and Catholic brothers and sisters, they must learn both the strengths and the limits of engagement with the whole tradition of the whole church—one, holy, catholic, and apostolic.

 From “missional” pioneers such as Lesslie Newbigin and George Hunsberger, and from such diverse sources as the Anabaptists and the Anglicans, they must learn the crucial power of the church. And they must understand it not as a pragmatic set of programs and organizations to be manipulated by managers into a cash machine for the needs of modern Westerners, but as the powerful, untamable, Spirit-driven, Mysterious Body of which Paul spoke. 

This is the road to maturity. That more and more evangelicals have set out upon it is reason for hope for the future of gospel Christianity. That they are receiving good guidance on this road from wise teachers is reason to believe that Christ is guiding the process. And that they are meeting and learning from fellow Christians in the other two great confessions, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox, is reason to rejoice in the power of love.

 Chris Armstrong is associate professor of church history at Bethel Seminary, and former managing editor of CT sister publication Christian History & Biography.

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