Your Church, Another City?

Another City is not an extensive ecclesiology, but an attempt to explain the stance that the church should have towards a post-Christendom world.  For the early Christians, Barry Writes, the Church was "another city," so we cannot withdraw into private religous experience or worship in congregations that are functionally equivalent to gated communities.  To this end, Harvey examines the apostolic and patristic vision of the Church not as a separate community, but as another city existing within the earthly city.  He outlines the collapse of this ecclesiology from the time of Constantine to the medieval and modern periods.  Harvey traces the blurring of the distinction of heavenly and earthly city that followed the Constantinian shift, to the abstraction of religion from secular concerns that took place as the result of a Cartesian shift.

In the end, he urges a renewal of the early church’s vision of herself and her
mission, so that the church can again engage in a proper "sanctified subversion"
( a phrase from Rodney Clapp) of the postmodern risk culture.  Is the
postmodern church's struggle an intellectual one, adapting its message to the
surrounding culture?  Or does our struggle require technical or programmatic changes in
order to attract outsiders?  For Harvey, our struggle must be an ecclesiological
one.

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About Corey Sharpe

Where do we get our beliefs? Three theological perspectives have significantly shaped my Christian identity: Evangelicalism, the early Methodist tradition and liberation theology. From my coming to faith in a Baptist church and throughout my education in a Baptist school and college, I was nurtured by convictions that emphasized a spiritual rebirth, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the centrality of the Bible. Even when I disagree with certain aspects of evangelicalism, it has deeply influenced my sense of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. My seminary studies spawned my interest in early Methodism, particularly its approach to spiritual formation. Its leaders were convinced that only a foundation of doctrine and discipline would lead to a meaningful transformation of the heart and mind. In other words, having the mind of Christ enables me to be more like Christ. Life in a suburban culture obscures the increasing gap between the poor and rich, as well as the Bible’s close identification with the poor. My doctoral work in socio-cultural context exposed me to liberation theology, which helps me see redemptive history as a history of oppressed groups, written from the perspective of the powerless, about a God who is actively involved with the poor in their struggles. I am now the pastor at Huntingtown United Methodist Church in Calvert County, Maryland. Together my wife and I are raising 4 young theologians.
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