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Sunday, 9 December 2012

Restoration - Movement and Message 2

Continuing with my thoughts on the restoration movement and message, I should perhaps make clear that I think the movement has had its day but that its essential message is still vital and powerful. The movement is now part of recent church history, but the message of kingdom now, of God's transformation of the world through his kingdom community, of anticipating the new creation in the here and now, of bringing heaven to earth etc. is still very relevant. And I am finding expressions of it in fresh ways and from unexpected sources - as diverse as biblical scholar and theologian, N.T.Wright, and pentecostal-charismatic leader, Bill Johnson. I will try to say more about this message and its vitality in future posts.

Here let me say a little more about its history. To say something is now part of history is not to devalue it. It does not mean that we just put it in the dustbin, or a museum, or a mausoleum. What is part of our history is part of the journey that we are still on, and valuing our past helps us to embrace our future. The church is essentially a pilgrim community, a family on a journey. We should keep hold of and take with us on that journey the lessons learned, the revelation granted, the good adjustments made. And then continue moving forward, being open to the next things that God wants to teach us. We should also be willing to shed the things that were just part of the cultural packaging of the recovered truths, the now old wineskins, and the man-made stuff that we mistook for God's work as well as the things that we just got plain wrong. Of course separating the packaging from the actual treasure is not always easy as there is often disagreement among fellow-travellers. And human flaws always get mixed in with the genuinely spiritual thing that God was doing, and its not always easy to separate in retrospect. But it's still worth the effort to think through what we count as the treasure we take with us on our journey as well as what we perceive to be the new lessons God is teaching us now.

I hope in the next couple of posts to suggest what I think contributes to the legacy left behind by the restoration movement, and the treasures that I think we should carry with us into the future.


  1. This is a test. Can I leave a comment, or will it disappear in a puff of wasted time?

  2. Phew - got it! despite a challenging Human/Computer Interface!
    Hi Trev. Your post reminds me of the old Restoration Magazine U-shape model of history: the fall starts drop on the left of the U, the bottom is the 'dark ages of church history', then there's the rise on the right side as the church progresses towards The End.

    On another note, 'the man-made stuff that we mistook for God's work' is another big challenge: discriminating between 'God's work' -so much of which is conducted through the church, i.e. people - and that 'man-made stuff' which ISN'T God's work. The issue recalls the old line 'You go your way and we'll go His'!

    all the best

    1. Hi Jeremy.
      Sorry that you had such trouble getting through. I will get a techie friend to look at it.

      I think you misunderstand me. I certainly don't think that God's work is limited to the church and have taught recently on discerning what God does in the world.
      My point is that in the restoration movement - and any such movement - there may well be a genuine work of God's Spirit and then the man-made and man-centered stuff gets mixed up with that and we sometimes make the mistake of thinking it's what God is doing - and I am thinking especially of in the church here.
      An example: I think that the teaching on discipleship genuinely came from God's Spirit as a challenge to the independence that dominated the evangelical and charismatic church, but that some of how it was applied and practised was 'man-made' and became harmful at times. My point is that separating the two is not always easy.