Theological Influences: The Churches of Christ

I think I jumped too quickly to college and George MacDonald when thinking about theological influences. I should have started with my faith tradition, the Churches of Christ.

The most profound and lasting theological influence in my life has been being a lifelong member of the Churches of Christ. To be sure, if you know anything about my faith tradition, I seem to be an unlikely member of the CoC. But appearances can be deceiving. I've written about this a couple of times before on the blog, about my ongoing debt to and investment in my tradition. So I don't need to rehash all that here.

But for the sake of this series, let me highlight four of the most important theological influences the CoC has had upon me.

First, the CoC has given me a passion for the Bible. I'm strange among progressive Christians in that the Bible isn't a stumbling block for me. Confession: I've never read a single book written by a progressive Christian author showing me how to better read the Bible. I just don't have a problem with Scripture. I find the Bible's disturbing and unsettling strangeness absolutely captivating. The fact that the Bible crashes into my worldly, sophisticated, scientifically-informed, liberal humanism doesn't make me doubt the Bible, it makes me love it even more.

Second, the CoC taught me to center the local church as the locus and focus of God's action in the world. The church is central and the White House on the periphery of my imagination. By focusing me on the book of Acts, the CoC taught me that the local church is the salvation of the world.

Third, the acapella (non-instrumental) worship of the CoC has made the gospel hymn my love language with God.

Fourth, the CoC belief that we gather on Sundays to take the Lord's Supper has profoundly shaped my Eucharistic theology. If you don't take the Lord's Supper on Sunday I don't think you've actually gone to church. In a strange and unlikely convergence, the CoC stands with the Catholics on this: the Eucharist sits at the absolute center of Christian worship and community.

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