I’ve written another article about the difficulties of trying to partner with other churches in your city.
Simply put, it’s pettiness and a misunderstanding of the essentials of our faith which holds us back.
But this article is not about what divides us. It’s about what brings us together.
If you’ve ever taken any serious action toward developing a network in your city of church leaders and other community leaders, then you’ve had to ask yourself this question:
“What do we have to agree on in order to work together?”What do we have to agree on in order to work together? #church #community Click To Tweet
The Kerygma and the Didache
Kerygma is a Greek word that means “The Proclamation”. And the Didache is also Greek, which means, “The Teaching”.
C.H. Dodd began using these terms in his book Gospel and Law. The Kerygma is the basic understanding of the person and work of Christ, and the Didache is the Apostles’ Teaching which is in response to the Kerygma and is focused on the life of the believer.
Biblical Theology vs. Systematic Theology
These concepts are based on what we call Biblical Theology, which is a very different thing than Systematic Theology.
Systematic Theology in its proper form began in universities around the time of the Reformation. It has its roots in Western scholasticism and uses the scientific method to obtain answers to theological questions. The process goes like this:
- I’m curious about… (use “predestination of believers” as an example)
- Formulate the question – Are people predestined by God to believe the gospel and be saved? Or do they have complete free will to decide on their own?
- Hypothesize – Make a guess as to what you think might be the answer.
- Gather Data – Search the Scriptures to find all the passages and verses that even hint at an answer to the question.
- Interpret the Data – Find correlations and cross-references. Identify trends and commonalities.
- Create Conclusion – Answer your question based on the data you collected, and compare it to your hypothesis.
Biblical Theology on the other hand is simply taking what the authors of Scripture said, and identifying what they emphasized. Biblical Theology deals with larger passages and even whole books of the Bible, which show that the author meant to explain the subject in more detail and that they meant to emphasize those things.
The assumption is that we as believers should emphasize those subjects about our faith which the Prophets and Apostles emphasized themselves. Moreover, if a subject was not dealt with in detail by the authors, then it must not have been as important to the lives of believers.
The main difference between Biblical Theology and Systematic Theology is that Biblical Theology lets the Apostles tell us what to focus on. Systematic Theology has the scholar taking it upon him(her)self to determine what believers should focus on.Build relationships with other #church #leaders in your #city. Click To Tweet
Neither one is better, because they each have their strengths and weaknesses, but it is my contention that so much emphasis has been put on Systematic Theology due to our Western, scientific culture, that we have unknowingly put ancillary subjects on the same level of importance as the actual essentials laid out by the Apostles.
Back to the Question, and Back to the Kerygma and Didache
And now to my point. We asked the question at the beginning of the article: “What do we have to agree on in order to work together?”
Most relevantly speaking, if we can agree on the Kerygma and the Didache, then we can completely disagree on everything else, and still be able to partner together to do greater things for Jesus in our cities.
So what exactly are the Kerygma and Didache?
I’m glad you asked.
The following is my summary of C.H. Dodd’s, Kevin Perrotta’s (in his chapter in Leading Christians to Maturity, edited by John C. Blattner), and Jeff Reed‘s (in his Paradigm Paper, Church Based Theology: Creating a New Paradigm) explanation of the Kerygma and Didache:
- The Old Testament prophesied that the Messiah would come, as a part of God’s unfolding plan. This was to bless all the peoples of the earth through the seed of David. This gospel would be a New Covenant, and there man’s sins would be forgiven, and man would receive God’s Spirit.
- Jesus Christ came. He was the coming Messiah. The gospel was fulfilled. This point is two-fold:
- Who Jesus is: He is the Son of God, the seed of David, the King of Kings, and born of the Holy Spirit, who came in the flesh.
- What Jesus did: He lived a sinless life, died, was buried and rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures, and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
- Jesus Christ will come back as Judge. He will show no partiality among men, but will judge the quick and dead equally. He will set up the Kingdom of God for all time, over which He will reign over all authorities (except over the Father, of course) forever and ever.
- Those who hear and believe this message will be forgiven of their sins. They will also receive the Holy Spirit as a deposit which guarantees their inheritance – and this all in joy because they eagerly await the Savior who will return for them.
- Each believer must not live in the same manner as before. He must renew his mind in the teaching, and make his life into a life which pleases God in accordance with His will.2
- Each believer must adhere to a new set of virtues – and this can only be done through God’s resources: His Spirit.3
- Each individual household is given an order of authority. They are to be consistent with God’s created design for man and for the Church.4
- God’s household the church – the pillar and support of the truth – is to be ordered into local churches. This in accordance with the sound doctrine received from the Apostles, especially Paul.5
- Each believer is given gifts through the Spirit. He must use these gifts in loving others and specifically in building up the church.6
- The order of the local church in regards to relationships within must be observed. Relationships must be characterized by love, brotherhood, mutual acceptance and respect. This is for the purpose of diligently pursuing unity in the bond of peace.7
- Believers’ relationships with the world must be correct – this includes respect for government, employers and other authorities, and love and good deeds toward outsiders and anyone who is in need.8
- Individuals must lead responsible and sober lives. This includes working hard, providing for their own, and making the most of the time, since the days are evil. This also includes prayerfully and practically keeping on the alert for Satan working in their lives.9
So Why Go Through All of This?
It’s a ton of work to identify the focus of the Apostles and nail down what exactly they wanted us to emphasize.
But here’s the point – these points are the not just what they wanted us to know, they are what the Apostles wanted us to base our unity on.
You heard it from me: The Kerygma and the Didache need to be what we base our unity on as we build networks in the city. Everything else is non-essential, and we should be glad to put those other things aside for the sake of having a bigger, stronger, longer-lasting impact on our cities.
Notice there’s nothing in the Kerygma or Didache about the current use of the charismatic spiritual gifts or the timetable of the end times or Calvinism/Arminianism or Predestination/Free Will.
We have got to be able to set aside those centuries-old debates. They should not be our focus, nor should they be our dividers. You should absolutely keep your theological distinctions for your individual churches, but you cannot hold up the work of God because someone down the street speaks in tongues.
What’s important then? The gospel, our behavior as believers, our families, our churches, our relationships with our community, and our defense against the Evil One.
And that’s IT.
And another thing-
Here on The Borough, you will never hear me or any of our writers publicly choose a political or systematic-theological stance. We don’t want to divide or exclude any of our brothers and sisters… unless, it’s a matter of Kerygma or Didache. It’s here that we draw our line, and here that we build our unity.
So build relationships with other church leaders in your city. But don’t stop at cheering each other on. Work together. Through the Holy Spirit, you will be able to do much greater things together than alone. And your unity will speak wonders to your community – the wonders of God to be specific.
- Galatians 1:1-5; 3:1-18; 1 Corinthians 15; Romans 1:1-7, 4:24-25; Ephesians 1:1-3:21; Colossians 1:9-10; 1 Timothy 3:16; 1 Peter 1:1-5
- Ephesians 4:22-24; Romans 12:1-2
- Galatians 5:22-26; Colossians 3:12; 2 Peter 1:1-11
- Ephesians 5:22-6:9; Colossians 3:18-4:1; 1 Peter 3:1-7
- 1 Timothy 3:14-16; Titus 1:5-2:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:15, 3:6; Ephesians 3:1-13; Colossians 1:24-29
- Romans 12:3-16; 1 Corinthians 12:4-6
- Romans 12:9-15; 14:1-7; Philippians 1:27-2:4; Ephesians 4:1-6
- Romans 13:1-7; Titus 2:14, 3:1, 14
- Ephesians 5:1-22, 6:10-18; 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15; 1 Peter 5:6-11