Follow by Email

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Restoration Legacy 1

I said in my last post that I wanted to reflect on the legacy of the restoration movement - the treasure we got from it and that we take with us on our journey as a pilgrim church (realising God has other things to add to us still). I have been party inspired to do this as I write a dissertation on the restoration movement, but that writing also prevents me from blogging as much as I'd like! So I will try to do many brief ones rather than a few long ones. So here's a quick starter:
  • new wineskins of church - speaking for the UK, the new churches have helped change the face of at least the evangelical and charismatic wing of the church; denominations, based around doctrine and church polity, are far less important than they were. More churches are much more based around relationship to apostolic (not always using that term) leaders and their teams, even when outwardly part of a denomination. Relational and charismatic connections,  rather than denominational allegiance, are what count now. 
  • denominationalism and the pilgrim church - it didn't just contribute to a lessening of the importance of denominations but, at its best, challenged the spirit of denominationalism. By that I mean the spirit of the settler as opposed to the pilgrim. The settler builds a structure around 1-2 areas of truth, instead of moving forward on the journey recognising that 'God has yet more light to break forth from his Word'. Sadly some restorationists have also settled around their doctrine and practices but, at its best, it encouraged the pilgrim's openness to new things. 


  1. I disagree that they challenged the spirit of demoninationalism. They just reinvented it. But this time they did with real zeal.

    Its one of the greatest errors of the movement to be exclusive, superior to other churches, believing that they had a monoply on God, good doctrine or the purposes of God and to demand that everyone had to agree with them if they wanted to work with them.

    One great thing today is how truely non denominational in spirit the new movement is. I have seen meetings that are completely out there in the Spirit (in a good way) with people of all backgrounds present and hungry.

    There are lots of areas we can now work with other groups in that 20 years ago would be unheard of.

    1. One of the problems when writing about 'a movement' is who we exactly mean by 'it' and 'they'? I recognise some of the features you refer to, Deane, and they represent the worst of what happened. But it is by no means the whole story. And so I stand by what I say in that I think that, as a whole, it challenged the settler spirit. Of course, pioneers will always make mistakes; but they also break new ground. Although it is appropriate to consider mistakes in order to learn from them, it does not become us to criticise the pioneers when we are the beneficiaries of the new ground they gained.

    2. Trevor, there are lots of things that we need to be really grateful for that these guys brought it, and I am. I just find the example you quote not to be one of them.

      Your second article on church as community is spot on.Yes that was one that was a legacy.

      I think maybe we have a different idea of denominationalism, but I think that attitude was actually one of the worst things about the movement at the time and very prevalent too. It had a strong denominational spirit, and I think still does much of the time. In my own thinking I have done a 180 about turn on the way I see other churches and christians. I had to unlearn certain things.

      But as you say there are lots of other things that they left as a good legacy

    3. I understand. You see exclusivity and superiority (and 'we' were guilty of that at times) as central to denominationalism, while I was looking at as more like the settlers' attitude, in contrast to the pilgrim. Like you, I have a far better outlook in relation to the wider body of Christ now.