I was just reading a book review in the Christian Century that had this quote “In an era in which more clergy know their Myers-Briggs score than can explain the doctrine of the enhypostaton, [this book’] is a breath of fresh air.” Confession time: I am a pastor. I know my Myers-Briggs score. I have no idea what the doctrine of enhypostaton is.
As I was finishing up Philip Clayton’s book, I found the dichotomoy between the opinion in the Christian Century and Philip Clayton’s premise to be striking. The author of the review in the magazine saw the major problem with the church was that clergy were not educated enough in the doctrines of the church. Clayton suggests that the people in the pews need to be doing their own theology; that it is not enough that pastors can know and use big theological terms; that if we all can’t talk about our faith and see how it applies to our lives then we are lost. I tend to agree with Clayton.
I appreciated this final part of the book and think that going through the Converstaions Worth Having with our session would be great. The one area that I question is the idea about getting involved with a community for a community. I feel the danger there is that we only interact with those we are comfortable with and it would be easy to end up with basketball ministries and book club ministries and just doing things we like and calling them ministry. I see that trap already in the church and want to be sure we realize that following Jesus requires more than doing what we’re passionate about with a prayer and calling it good.
By the end of the book, I still have the same question that I had when I began. Can older, established churches do the kind of transformational change laid out in this book? I hope so. I think the changes are needed and vital to being the church in the future. But I just can’t picture it. I see new churches forming and old churches being put on hospice or greatly diminished. Lucky for me, God is bigger than my vision. Come, Lord Jesus, come!