Authentic Apostolicity

Posted: February 24, 2010 in Living the Faith, On Being Apostolic
Tags: , , ,

I’m glad I was able to type the above title, because I’m not sure I could actually say it.  😉

There’s a lot of chatter nowadays (great word, that) about being “apostolic”, and the chatter isn’t isolated to a particular segment of Christianity…there’s a pretty broad interest out there in things “apostolic.”  Along with that breadth of interest there’s also a breadth of meaning when it comes the idea of Apostolicity.   Just what does being “apostolic” mean?

In the movement I’m part of being “apostolic” usually refers firstly to a doctrinal position, secondly to an experiential way, and thirdly to an organizational method.   You could say that we want to believe what the Apostles believed, experience what the Apostles experienced, and function as the Apostles functioned.

More or less.  Apostolic doctrine is a buy for most of us, and Apostolic experience is fantastic…but the Apostolic function, particularly in its reference to church organization and structure, well, that’s a bit more on the less side of more or less.  We’ll travel down that particular path only until it starts to really challenge our current structure.  Then we’ll just kind of “simmer down” and talk Apostolic while being quite traditional.

That’s frustrating to me, but understandable.  Being truly apostolic would require flattening the lines of authority and accountability.  Being truly apostolic would require a form of church leadership that would involve team ministry in a way completely foreign to us.  Being truly apostolic would call for social ministries such as caring for the widows and orphans to be activated and encouraged.   And frankly, all of that is quite frightening to a group of people who have cut their spiritual teeth on the idea that one man has all authority, and that one man is in reality unaccountable to anyone but God, and that God is a Republican.   (wink wink nudge nudge)

Don’t go on about presbyters and superintendents being the line of accountability in a UPC pastor’s life…you have to crash and burn before they tackle you.  By then, the damage is done.

But I’m also a bit concerned about the vibe that I’m picking up from the larger charismatic/neo-Pentecostal circle that seems to present Apostolicity as the current method de jour for church operations.  If past performance is indicative of future results (seen a broker lately?) this will last a few years, then something newer, cooler, with slicker packaging will come along.  And that new thing will become the charismatic/neo-Pentecostal method du jour.

But authentic apostolicity isn’t just another method of structuring the church.  And it’s not just another way of encouraging spiritual gifts to function within the Body of Christ.  Authentic apostolicty isn’t just another pseudo-spiritual fad.

What is it, then?

It’s a lifestyle…a way of living the faith in day to day life.  Being truly apostolic is a lifestyle because it calls for the radical transformation of the heart and life.  You cannot heed God’s call to be involved in the total restoration of the Apostolic Church and continue to live as you’ve always done.  The restoration of simplicity, the rejection of materialism, the willingness to be counter-culture, to love and care for others in real ways, to love God while hating evil and injustice, being connected organically to Body of Christ…adopting these apostolic ideals will bring about fundamental changes in day to day living.

It’s a mindset…a way of thinking that makes humility and other-worldliness its foundation.  Authentic apostolics esteem each other above themselves, and they live with the awareness that while they are in the world they are not of it.  Someone wishing to be apostolic will wean themselves from their fascination with the mighty of this world, and learn to place healthy distance between our pulpits and the halls of earthly power.  A proper appreciation of apostolic doctrine should produce an apostolic mind; one that values oneness and unity with the Body of Christ, one that remits sins against us as ours have been remitted…freely, and without reservation…and one that seeks the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

I want to be apostolic.

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