Thursday, July 2, 2009

"The Jesus Paradigm" - the Church and Politics

This is really two posts in one - dealing with both the church and politics.

Dave Black has written a challenging and somewhat revolutionary book. The reason I say this is that the author challenges the reader to take a long look at how his life compares to what the bible has to say about what it is to follow after Jesus Christ.

I have already said that I believe the bedrock issue Dave Black addresses is biblical hermeneutics (interpretation). A simple, even cursory, reading of The Jesus Paradigm challenges the reader to not just obey the commands of scripture, but to live according to the model we see in scripture. This model comes from both Jesus Christ and the early church. In other words, Black seemingly sees all of the New Testament as not only descriptive, but also prescriptive.

Once the reader of this book realizes (and it doesn't take long) that Black believes followers of Jesus Christ should live personally and corporately based on what we see in scripture, he - the reader - can take a good guess at what Black will have to say specifically about both the church and politics.

To put it simply, Black writes that the church of today should live like the church from the Book of Acts. As we see in the N.T., Black emphasizes that every member of the church should minister within the body. All have responsibility to one another. All are to be active. The author also stresses that every member ought to be a missionary. Regarding leadership, the church must avoid the typical clergy-laity divide. Jesus Christ alone must be recognized as the senior pastor.

As for politics, Black stresses that the bible does not call upon the church to serve a particular political party or particular ideology. The church is not to be a servant of the state or be involved in fighting culture wars. The church, on the other hand, is to impact society for Christ by being salt and light in the world. As Christians, our utmost allegiance must be to the Kingdom of God rather than to any political movement.

The Jesus Paradigm is revolutionary, but it is also simple. It is challenging, but it is also a relatively easy read. The reason for these things is that Dr. Black is simply trying to be as biblical as he can be.

If we want to claim to be biblical, we cannot pick-and-choose what sections of scripture to follow. Black does his best to exhort us to live by all of the bible.

I encourage every Christian to read this book. Even if you do not agree with all the author says, it will cause you to think. That is always a good thing.

To order, click here or here.


Arthur Sido said...

I have to say that the politics part of it grated on me. I get what he is saying, but the way it was said was a bit over the top in places in my mind.

Aussie John said...


The position of Dave Black, as you describe it, is that which I have sought to demonstrate and encourage for most of my years in pastoral ministry.

It's not a position which is popular amongst the leaders who want to dominate denominational politics,and is openly frowned upon.

I can only suppose that the reason is that if a congregation lives as described in the Book of Acts, there is no room for self agrandisement and ego massaging.

Paul Burlenson very wisely said this on his blog,
"It is, in fact, the breaking down of the vessel, instead of the building up of the vessel, that is needed for true ministry to be performed which the troubles and difficulties that came to Paul reveals in 11 Corinthians 4:10-12. So a broken and flawed vessel is the place where the Treasure [Jesus] is actually magnified. This, contrary to present day popular opinion, is the true minister, not the one gifted, trained, talented, and capable of presenting truth in a spell binding fashion. It is, rather, the one broken, shattered, and exhibiting the true recovery of Grace that is seen as the true minister scripturally. All believers are to be that minister.

Each christian is that vessel. Each vessel is to reveal that Treasure. Each person is a minister when this is real and is happening. All believers are in "the ministry" though they may provide a living for themselves in many ways. Some may even be supported by a local assembly. But their authority is to only truly come in this way. Not because of an "office" they hold."

I suggest that is also Dave Black's experience. I'm looking forward to the book arriving in Australia.

Eric said...


Dr. Black certainly does not pull any punches. My guess is that he is speaking very firmly in order to get his point across. I do have to agree with him that many (at least American) Christians seem to look to the state to solve society's ills. Far too many conservative Christians do seem to go along with the Republican Party line no matter what.

Dr. Black appears to have chosen to speak firmly at "let the chips fall where they may."

Eric said...

Aussie John,

I agree with you that what Dr. Black describes would not be popular in many (at least Western) churches today. Most pastors would not like it and, unfortunately, many lay people wouldn't either. The NT model requires most of today's pastors to step out of the spotlight. It also requires all members of the body to be active instead of passive.

My hope is two-fold. First, I hope many more churches are planted in the West using the NT model. Second, I hope an increasing number of traditional churches will begin to move in this direction.

Enjoy the book - when will it make it Down Under?

Aussie John said...


You asked, "...- when will it make it Down Under?"

Have emailed the publisher. He doesn't know.