Thursday, August 05, 2010

Book Review: Your Church is too Small

Your Church is Too Small
John H. Armstrong

My first response after realizing this book, Your Church is Too Small, was about Christian unity was: where has John H. Armstrong been for the last fifty years? He talks about ecumenism as if it’s a new idea. And, maybe, for him and the evangelicals that make up his church community, churches working together in common mission is a novel approach.
But for us mainline churches, who’ve been part of larger ecumenical organizations such as the World Council of Churches, and it’s national expressions, Christian unity has been almost an article of faith, and for many of the biblical reasons Armstrong outlines in his book.
A petty part of me wants an apology before endorsing this book. An apology, on behalf of every evangelical who called mainline churches heretics for their call for Christian unity, and for every preacher who equated the ecumenical movement with the anti-Christ’s one world church as an arm of an impending one world government.
While I don’t know if Armstrong shared these opinions of ecumenical Christians in the past, he writes as if Christians haven’t yet explored how to work together for the cause of the gospel. But the absence of such a discussion is troubling.
What I liked about the book was his solid exegesis. He didn’t have to root around scripture to find evidence of God’s call to unity. It was lying in plain sight. And Armstrong makes ample use of biblical examples to buttress his argument.
For me, this book was nothing new. In fact, it kind of irked me. But that’s my baggage. 
But for those looking for a thoughtful reflection on Christian unity in today’s church, Your Church is Too Small provides an excellent entry point.
Then, when you’re finished reading this book, pick up After Our Likeness: The Church As the Image of the Trinity for a deeper exploration.
NB: Book has been provided courtesy of Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available now at your favourite bookseller.

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