Wednesday, March 06, 2013

J.I. Packer and Jim Belcher: set theory:

Tangential Extraplotaions blogs on J.I. Packer  (!)  and Jim Belcher, related to set theory:
This box was unwrapped by reading J.I. Packer's A Quest For Godliness, specifically a chapter in which he outlined the Puritans' belief that conversion was often a work which was difficult to pin down when precisely it took place- though the new birth is effected at an exact moment in time and space, a person's conversion could be quite indistinct in comparison.* This broadened my understanding considerably, but I think the box was opened up entirely upon reading Belcher's book and seeing in his defense of the centered set idea a description of my own conversion!
In his chapter “Deep Evangelism,” Belcher explores the twin poles of the bounded set community and the relational set community model many emerging churches espouse. In the bounded set model, metaphorical fences are drawn around the community which keep people out until such a time as they subscribe to all of the doctrinal distinctives of that particular community. This effectively shuts the door upon outsiders who want to come and see what's going on in there. When doctrine is made “the guardian of the gate,” it becomes the centerpiece of community formation and is tantamount to a big “Do Not Disturb” sign on our entryways. He quotes one thinker on this subject who thinks that this believing before any sort of belonging philosophy has had negative consequences for the church's witness because it “essentially slams shut the front door of the church in the face of spiritual seekers” (pg. 95)...

“...though Jesus was in favor of inviting people into the community, he also challenged them to know whether or not they were truly following him. This takes the insights of the traditional church (the need for boundaries) and the teaching of the emerging church (the need to belong for believing), and steps beyond them into a third way. Belonging is important. Jesus invited many into his community. This is what got him into so much trouble with the Pharisees (the original bounded set people?). But at the same time he did not shy from the truth of the gospel and the need for his followers to repent of their idols. They had to believe in his kingdom, his kingship, and his death and resurrection. Yes, belonging is important, but we still have to believe at some point. He calls those in the outer circle to come into the inner circle, to be close to the Well” (pg. 101).  LINK

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