I finished up Childers’ and Aquino’s book a few weeks ago, but haven’t had a chance to review it here. It is the third book to come from ACU Press’ Heart of the Restoration Series, a series aimed at providing new conversation within churches of the Restoration Movement, most specifically acappellaChurches of Christ. The first book of the series, TheCrux of the Matter , presented an introduction into the current identity crisis facing Churches of Christ and explores potential directions for the future. The second book of the series, God’s Holy Fire explores the role that the Bible has played in our tradition and encourages a recovery of passion for God’s Word.
In this third release in the series, the authors explore an area that is relatively new for many in Churches of Christ. It seems ironic that a heritage with the name of “Churches of Christ” would not have a strong christology, but, as Childers and Aquino set forth, there has been a lost of Christocentricism in many of our churches. They claim, “More than techniques and strategies, the issues facing Churches of Christ today require leadership that is Christlike in character.” Throughout the book, the authors do their best to shift the focus from “doctrine” and ecclesiology to a focus on the personhood, Deity, and miracle of Jesus Christ.
Coming from a background in Churches of Christ, I found reading this book a very unique experience. Most books coming from members of Churches of Christ focus on matters that are very specific to our heritage and tradition. Many of our authors and scholars have devoted their lives to the way we worship and have aimed their study toward those within Churches of Christ making little impact on the broader scope of Christianity. This work, however, is a little different. It is a welcome challenge for our churches to focus on Christ. Following the heart of the Restoration, their emphasis comes through loud and clear: Christ was from God and came to redeem the fallen creation. As Revelation5 proclaims, “He is worthy!”
There may be other works like this, and hopefully there are more on the horizon, but for the first time I have read a book that speaks with language that would be familiar to those in my heritage, but connects to the broader scope of theology. By stating this I’m not saying everything else I have read is “non-theological” or “non-academic” as we are raising some very capable scholars, but the nature of this book was just different.
Delving into historically significant issues like the deity of Christ, the virgin birth, and the temptation of Christ, Childers and Aquino travel down a path that hopefully will be followed by many in our heritage. They leave behind sectarian matters and divisive doctrine and focus on what really matters – Christ and him crucified.
While a book on Christ can never hope to be complete, one shortcoming I see in this book is the role that Christ plays in Revelation – a book many in our heritage our too unconcerned with. Revelation 4 and 5 are two of the most significant and loaded chapters in all of Scripture, most particularly in relation to the role of God and Christ. This work would have benefited greatly from a treatment of the Lamb through Revelation. However, it is still a great book and I am glad to see such thoughts coming from those within my tradition.
I have chosen to return to some of Brian McLaren’s reading next. I am in the middle of The Story We Find Ourselves in currently, and am excited to blog about the thoughts sparked by McLaren’s work. The stuff he says really makes sense to me; although it really challenges where I am, where I’ve been, and how I minister. Stay tuned for further comments – I’ll get back in the swing of blogging here and get rolling.. Thanks for missing me!