I’ve been reading about scientific revolutions. You know, Copernicus, Newton, Einstein and the rest.
Each of the above triggered a revolution that created a new normal (a term I’ve come to loathe), but you get the point. Normal has truly arrived when it appears in a textbook or they teach it as foundational truth in college classrooms.
After the revolutionary idea becomes normal, most of science exists to prove that it is true while building off of the knowledge gleaned to date. This highly stable situation can last for centuries, with laboratories underscoring what they already know. It seems that “normal” resists change with scientists, ignoring and sometimes aggressively pushing back or repressing what doesn’t seem quite right since it doesn’t fit established norms.
Along comes a crisis. The crisis may appear as a war, a pandemic or simply too many occurrences of the anomaly (revolutionary event or idea) to ignore. At this point, the new thing gains a following, mostly among younger researchers. Fresh discoveries eventually overwhelm the old normal with a revolution in science.
Revolution in the New Testament
Well, it seems that we can find the same pattern in the New Testament and today’s struggling post-Christian, post-evangelical church.
Jesus passes along the baton of authority to make disciples of nations (literally: people groups) in ever-widening circles of influence, but his top team doesn’t seem to get it. The big-C church remains local to Jerusalem & Judea until a crisis emerges.
Soon after the persecution gets hot, we find Phillip in Samaria, just like Jesus commanded. After a short flight on Holy Spirit airlines, he finds himself on a road speaking with a person of peace from what seems like the end of the earth. Crisis begets change.
But it gets better as “laypeople” (another term I hate), not apostles, take the gospel across the Mediterranean world. Then somebody got radical in Antioch preaching to non-Jews, and the Great Commission gets into full swing. Perhaps the most significant missionary church in history got planted by the “wrong people.” Then, as the missionary thing gets going, they convert mainly gentiles in foreign places. But they take things a step further by teaching that certain religious customs are unnecessary. Finally, the big boys back in Jerusalem offer their stamp of approval, and a new thing emerges as normative (see, I didn’t write the “new n….l”).
Another Revolution of Sorts
Fast forward to church multiplication, microchurch, digichurch, etc., long ago, in the era before COVID-19. The powers that be could ignore, even diss these anomalies. However, the crisis moved these tools to the front burner in many people’s minds. Their successes get noticed, and something of a revolution is happening in several places. But hold off writing those textbooks as the early adopters are still working out the bugs. This story will continue for the next few years. I hope you’re in it.
Your thoughts? Arguments? Concerns? Please use the comments box below to share with the rest of us.