Posted by: chuckbumgardner | November 19, 2007

Fee on Homogeneity

I’ve been listening to Gordon Fee lecture on 2 Thessalonians, which has been a fascinating exercise — he knows how to work seriously with texts, and does in the lectures, but brings in insights on all sorts of things while interacting with the students in the class.  In the lecture on 2 Thess 3:6-18, he speaks to short-term missions, megachurches / house churches, work ethic, lack of community in the typical church, meals as part of the Lord’s Supper, and so forth.  I thought this quote was particularly provocative:

“I don’t think you can have a homogeneous church and be biblical.”

(Fee, Gordon. “2 Thessalonians 3:6-18.” Audiotapes of lectures at Regent College. Vancouver, B.C.: Regent Audio, [1995]. Cassettes 2523L, parts 1 and 2.)

He is referring, of course, to the biblical notion of Jews and Gentiles learning to coexist in the same local body.  He seemed pretty serious about the statement (although I’d love to know his view of the composition of the Jerusalem church), and while it might be a bit hyperbolic, he raises a noteworthy point. 

When I was part of an inner-city, multicultural work (not quite the same things as Jews and Gentiles, but along the lines of what Fee would applaud, I think), there were significant challenges to working together as a church.  We all brought in things from our particular culture (be it that of Liberia, white American suburbia,  American black inner-city, and so forth).  So, we had to ask serious questions about music, about preaching, about dress, and so forth.  It forced us to the text, and we were better off for it.

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