I think it might be more than one line:

“Acts is not a manual with blueprints and a set of instructions on how to be a church. Acts is not a utopian fantasy on what a perfect church would look like. Acts is a detailed story of the ways in which the first church became a church. The story is not a script to be copied.”–Eugene Peterson, The Pastor, 118

This seems reasonable to me. What say you?

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This entry was posted on Thursday, April 28th, 2011 at 11:17 am and is filed under Theology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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6 Comments(+Add)

1   John Hughes    
April 28th, 2011 at 1:00 pm

I agree wholeheartedly. One must always discern what is described vs. what is proscribed.

2   Christian P    http://www.churchvoices.com
April 28th, 2011 at 1:06 pm

In a technical sense, I agree. But there is a great deal of proscription taking place in Acts. The narrative genre, especially in scripture, does not negate or preclude proscription.

3   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
April 28th, 2011 at 1:29 pm

I’d say that in a narrative form, like Acts, you’ve got both actions and underlying precepts/concepts. The actions I do not see as as regulative proscriptions, but the underlying concepts/precepts should be normative.

Example: I don’t think that Paul’s habit of using the local Synagogue in each new community as the launching point of the local church is regulatively proscribed, but I would say that the underlying message received from the Jerusalem church as to what was expected re: Gentiles and the law is a normative proscription.

4   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
April 28th, 2011 at 2:45 pm

How do you copy what only God can do? I think Acts has more references to the Holy Spirit than any other book in the Bible. Clearly, the book demonstrates God working through men.

Yet, there is a lot that can be incorporated and learned by us. Namely, dependence on God, how he turns evil for good (Philippian imprisonment), the power of suffering for the gospel and the fact that it’s the only book in the Bible without an end… it just tapers off, which means Acts should still be continuing until Christ returns.

5   Jerry    http://www.dongoldfish.wordpress.com
April 28th, 2011 at 3:23 pm

How do you copy what only God can do? I think Acts has more references to the Holy Spirit than any other book in the Bible. Clearly, the book demonstrates God working through men.

Interestingly enough, Peterson goes on to write this:

“…the shift from understanding church as what we do to continue the work of Jesus in his absence to understanding church as the creation and continuing work of the Holy Spirit.” (125)

Here he is talking about how Luke 1-2, birth narratives of Jesus, parallel Acts 1-2, birth narratives of the church. It’s actually rather fascinating.

His larger point though is well taken: we are part of an unfolding narrative (we are, so to speak, chapter 29ff of Acts, although he doesn’t use that specific language), we belong to the story and it is thus difficult, perhaps futile, to try to reproduce in our situation what was going on in their situation.

Some aspects, perhaps yes, but I think it is a lot fewer than some think. It seems to me that things didn’t start going terribly wrong until Acts 5 and specifically after that, Acts 6 where the church became weighed down in social matters. (Note in chapter 6, there is no mention of prayer, fasting, or otherwise.)

6   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
April 28th, 2011 at 3:40 pm

I wish there was an Acts that followed the works of the other apostles as well. That would be fascinating.

I agree with the Acts 29 concept outlined in #4. On the flipside of that you get people waiting until the “latter rain” insisting that nothing can be done until the Lord gives another outpouring, meanwhile shooting down anything or anyone that moves.