This highly readable investigation of the early church explores the revolutionary nature, dynamics, and effects of the earliest Christian communities. It introduces readers to the cultural setting of the house churches of biblical times, examines the apostle Paul's vision of life in the Christian church, and explores how the New Testament model of community applies to Christian practice today. Updated and revised throughout, this 40th-anniversary edition incorporates recent research, updates the bibliography, and adds a new fictional narrative that depicts the life and times of the early church.
It is in Paul that the most profound and clearly developed understanding of community is found. Indeed, what the apostle has to say about community is relevant to far more than just the way people get together in churches. In this timely study, the author examines and clarifies Paul's idea of community, placing it in its historical context (comparing Paul and the Stoic and Epicurean and Cynical philosophers, the Hellenistic mystery cults, and first-century Judaism), and drawing out its significance both sociologically and theologically. According to him, the essence of Paul idea of community is freedom. The freedom that Christ brings to a person means not only independence (from selfish desires and from the law) but also dependence (for the freedom is given by Christ, not earned) and interdependence (it must be lived out in the community). Of the several images Paul uses to describe the community, the author focuses on two: body (depicting the goal of development or growth) and family (dpeicting the goal of harmony). He goes on to discuss the various aspects of the community: the physical expressions of community: "spiritual gifts" and their role in the community; the role of women and racial minorities in the community; and the relationship of Paul himself and his apostolic endeavours to the community. [Back cover].
A top leadership theorist offers a compelling proposal for renovating the way religious education is practiced today. Christian colleges and seminaries have not been immune from the cultural influences shaping contemporary education. Challenging the conventional wisdom advanced by the educational debate during the last fifteen years, Robert Banks builds an innovative new model of theological education based on how ministry formation took place in biblical times. Banks takes full account of key issues raised by our current educational context and shows how a "missional model" of education is more holistic, inclusive, and practical than recent versions.
A debate of perennial interest, addressing one of the oldest questions posed to religious believers--if God made everything, who made God? Most recently leveled by the New Atheists, the question of the likelihood that God is a human invention was first asked in ancient Greece and has preoccupied religious believers for centuries ever since. Here, renowned scholar Robert Banks explores the history of this objection--from its earliest vocalization in the ancient world to its most famous advocates, including Freud, Marx, and others--and offers compelling evidence that takes both sides of the argument into account. Ideal for those with a general interest in New Atheism or for those studying religion, this informative guide will offer readers the chance to sort out once and for all what--if any--elements of their idea of God are man-made.
Drawing on his monumental scholarly study Early Christian Mission (Volume 2), Eckhard J. Schnabel's gives us an overview of Paul's missionary practices, strategies and methods, and then weighs contemporary evangelical missiology and practice in light of Paul.
Debate about church order has gone on for centuries within Christianity, and an end is nowhere in sight. Perhaps that is good, since the debate shows the weaknesses of many ideas that need correction. Corporate Decision-Making examines church order from a careful exegetical perspective, with particular attention to the social world of the New Testament. While most works about church government address structure and qualities of leadership, Brown deals with the interaction of the people of the church, both with their leaders and with one another, in setting policy. In brief, though all believers in the young church of the New Testament revered Christ and his Word as authoritative, not all church decisions were "top down" from earthly leaders. On the contrary, many were "from the bottom up." This should come as no surprise to those familiar with Jesus' admonition in the Gospels, "You have one teacher, and you are all brothers."
Believing that study and application of Scripture in the context of Christian community can greatly enhance the transformative power of the preached message, in Bringing Home the Message Robert Perkins aims to help pastors integrate small group ministry with their preaching. Perkins lays out the biblical, theological, historical, and sociological basis for the importance of hearing God's Word in the context of community, and provides a practical methodology for implementing sermon-based small group Bible studies. This helpful book also includes a sample fourteen-part series of Study Guides and Leader's Notes for the Gospel of Luke. Step-by-step instructions illustrate how to prepare effective inductive Bible study questions for small groups that will challenge members to grow in their faith and discipleship through understanding and applying God's Word together.