Back to blogging at last! And really wanting to continue to say more about new patterns of leadership and authority. Conversations and dialogues that I have been engaged in over the last couple of weeks have helped to stimulate and focus my thinking. I am hoping the next few posts will help those of us in our local church community to understand more about the perspective shift that is taking place for us in this whole area of leadership and church government. But I welcome constructive comments from any readers of this blog that will help us get clearer - I am committed to learning through conversation.
When approaching the subject of authority and leadership (indeed, any subject) as people who believe the Bible is inspired and authoritative Scripture, we must take seriously what it has to say. But we must also take seriously what is involved in reading Scripture. For example, we must recognise that the Bible is written as the stories of communities in historical contexts, not just as a finished list of dogmatic propositions; that we have to understand the cultural contexts of those communities and discern the principles and truths in their stories; we then have to understand how those principles and truths are worked out in our cultural contexts; we need to see the big story of Scripture and how its big themes and central subject - Jesus - affect our understanding of specific texts; and we must acknowledge our own cultural and religious assumptions that we bring to the biblical texts as we read them, and be open to them being challenged; most of all, we must recognise our need for the Holy Spirit to open the Scriptures to us as he leads us into all truth; and that we protect ourselves from subjectivism in this, by staying in conversation with other members of the body of Christ, including those who come from totally different perspectives.
Always remember that it is possible to diligently study Scriptures and yet totally miss the point! (John 5:39-40)
Over the next few posts, I hope to show that when we look at Scripture taking the above considerations into account, we do not end up with a prescribed model never to be departed from, but we are liberated into flexible and fluid patterns which nevertheless can give fresh expression in our contemporary context to the radical principles of God's different kingdom.