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J.I. Packer’s Forward to Your Church is Too Small by John H. Armstrong

John H. Armstrong has launched a new website for his life-wrought book, Your Church Is Too Small, and you can actually read the forward (written by J.I. Packer) at this website.  NOTE: This book is going to be huge in its impact; I have blogged about this book before.  

Scot McKnight has already blogged once about this book at Jesus Creed.  He ends with a question addressed to John.

On this new website, you can 1) get an overview of the book and read endorsements, 2) pre-order the book, 3) follow the new blog, 4) sign up for a FREE (yeah … that’s right) Conference around the book’s ideas.

Here is some of J.I. Packer’s forward: 

My friend John Armstrong is a church leader who has traveled the distance from the separatist, sectarian fixity of fundamentalism to embrace the kingdom-centered vision of the church and the call issued by a number of Bible-based theologians and missiologists during the past half century.

What vision is this? It is the one that views the visible church as a single worldwide, Spirit-sustained community within which ongoing doctrinal and denominational divisions, though important, are secondary rather than primary. In this vision, the primary thing is the missional-ecumenical vocation and trajectory crystallized for us by our Lord Jesus Christ in his teaching and prayer and illustrated in a normative way by the Acts narrative and much of the reasoning of the apostolic letters.

Evangelicals have always urged that the church of God is already one in Christ but have typically related this fact only to the invisible church (that is, the church as God alone sees it).  All too often, they have settled for division in the visible church (the church on earth, as we see it) as at least tolerable and at best healthy. The vision Armstrong offers, however, perceives by exegesis that the unity of Christians, which Jesus prayed that the world might see, is neither unanimity nor uniformity nor union (as he neatly puts it) but loving cooperation in life and mission, starting from wherever we are at the moment and fertilized and energized by the creedal and devotional wisdom of the past. Thus the internal unity of togetherness in Christ may become a credibility factor in the church’s outreach, just as Jesus in John 17 prayed that it would.

Embracing this vision will mean that our ongoing inter- and intra-church debates will look, and feel, less like trench warfare, in which both sides are firmly dug in to defend the territory that each sees as its heritage, and more like emigrants’ discussions on shipboard that are colored by the awareness that soon they will be confronted by new tasks in an environment not identical with what they knew before. There they will all need to pull together in every way they can. The church in every generation voyages through historical developments and cultural changes, against the background of which new angles emerge on old debates and truths may need to be reformulated in order to remain truly the same as they were. Not to recognize this is a defect of vision on our part.

You can read the rest of the forward here: yourchurchistoosmall.com.

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Your Church is Too Small: Missional Ecumenism in the New Millennium

John H. Armstrong just released news that Zondervan has agreed to publish his book Your Church is Too Small, a book he wrote before ever seeking publication.  He said he wrote the book before making a deal for publication so that he would not have any pressure to conform its content to the pressure of a publisher.  He is writing on a controversial topic among evangelicals.  Here is an excerpt from his post on the book.  

The thesis of the book is that we need a new reformation rooted in what I call missional-ecumenism. This “new” ecumenism would unite us spiritually and relationally in fresh and personal ways that could well become an instrument of God to spread the message of Christ’s kingdom far and wide. All of this is developed in a narrative that tells my own story and interacts warmly with a number of people and events over the last twenty years or so. (The next to last chapter is filled with stories of people and churches that have followed the thesis I present in the book.) The reading level ofYour Church Is Too Small is not academic and what academic arguments are made in the book are simply defined and clearly written. My target audience is not professors and scholars butministers and church leaders of all backgrounds. The book targets evangelical Protestants directly but it will be read with much joy by many Roman Catholics who share the same vision. There is not a shred of anti-Catholicism in the book. I also interact with the Orthodox very respectfully and with profound appreciation, even using doctrinal ideas from the East to make several important points about the Trinity and the divine energies.

——————————-HT: John H Armstrong———————————

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