Another denominational post. I have mixed feelings about this.
In my journey with God, I cannot control what I was born into. The more I develop my testimony – the more I search the soul of the faith I grew up with and the scriptural record in search of clarity – the more I come to see the Community of Christ as the receivers of a New Covenant.
To grasp my meaning, you have to see the spiritual struggle told through the bible as a repeatable historical struggle. The bible doesn’t tell the story of a linear history, though there is that sense. More importantly, it tells the journey of a people with God – from their liberation, establishment, prophetic challenge, fall, and struggle to understand the messiah who fulfills the law of righteousness, but not their expectations.
The more I reflect on this story of judgment and redemption, I see it in the Community of Christ story. The Restoration, like all the Restoration movements of the 19th century, arrogantly or not, proclaimed to reclaim the New Testament church. However, like every prophetic “return to origins,” it suffered temptations – overstating its self-legitimacy, temptation to self-righteous, and idolatry of its “specialness” at the exclusion of others. The church and its distinctiveness overtook Christ as the center. Judgment came not from without, but from within the church. Claims of apostasy, divided loyalties, and lead schisms. More than once.
It seems, the most dangerous time in any movement is when past clarity, defined by knowing who your enemies are, is no longer clear. A movement does not need to be conquered from without when the enemies are within. When division, internal strife over “the true meaning of the movement” set the movement against itself. Is this what happened with Israel? Babylon and Assyria only filled a vacuum created within?
It’s certainly what happened with the Restoration…multiple times. It happened in the last 40 year’s of the Community of Christ.
The more I reflect on the scriptures and try to piece together what happened to the Reorganization, I see the glimmer of a New Testament period possibly in the Restoration. This is the emerging period. It is defined by the following realizations.
- In the end, Jesus is the first and last prophet of the church.
- Therefore, Jesus is the center and that center is shared by any Christian who proclaims Jesus Christ as the measure of God’s creation and redemption.
- The Kingdom Jesus brings breaks open all religious, ethnic, or national definitions.
- That Kingdom on Earth is Zion.
- Zion has arrived where Jesus Christ is present, followed, and proclaimed in people’s lives.
The Old Covenant of the Restoration would claim sole rights to the authority of this Kingdom. The Old Covenant would not see the possibility of this covenant fulfilled in God’s ongoing revelation. New revelation would only reinforce prior revelation. The center of the church is not God’s new revelation, seen also in Jesus, but the church and its righteousness.
I must be clear. I am not trying to use the “Old Testament” and “New Testament” in ways to disparage Jews, Judaism, or claim self-righteousness for the Community of Christ over any group of Christians. Rather, as I’ve tried to say, I’m trying to see the struggle of the accepting Jesus, the Messiah, in a biblical context and read that into the life and history of a specific history and specific church…..