Seeking the Manifold Wisdom of God on Indianapolis' Near-eastside

The Church as First Family

by csmith - September 5, 2007 - 2:43 pm

For the last couple weeks, we have been discussing David Langford’s paper as a part of our on-going Sunday night conversation: Church as First Family: Loving Family More by Loving it Less.  This paper was the basis of a talk that we heard David give at a recent gathering hosted by our new friends at Speedway Church of Christ

 You need to read this piece, especially if you have not read Rodney Clapp’s book: Families at the Crossroads.  It seems that in many churches in the U.S., especially those in evangelical traditions, there is an obliviousness to the ways in which our elevation of the family has obscured our calling to be God’s family (i.e., the Church). And certainly, the prevaling role of a certain organzation in the so-called Christian sub-culture does not help this struggle.

4 Responses to “The Church as First Family”

  1. I’m a bit confused about the thrust of your last statement. Was that intended as a criticism of Focus on the Family, or on the “prevailing role” that the Christian culture has placed them in?

  2. Hi Kyle –

    Thanks for joining in our blog conversation!

    Good question… If I understand your question correctly, I intended the criticism to cut both ways. It’s a sort of “chicken and egg” situation. FOF needs to be criticized for promoting family idolatry, and the Christian sub-culture (why does it even exist?) needs to be criticized for giving so much creedence (the “prevaling role”) to FOF. It’s an ugly situation that we’re in, but certainly the Church has something more radically transformational to offer the wider culture than merely defending the “traditional family.” We talked about this some last night in our continuing Sunday night conversation. I hope to get some notes from that posted to the blog sometime this week.


  3. While I do think there are criticism to be made of FoF, I don’t see “family idolatry” as one of them.

    Granted, I’m riffing off of one sentence in your post, but it almost seems like you’re saying that if an entity specializes in a particular area of Christian life, they’re open to criticism for idolizing that area.

    For example: if I helped churches understand how technology extends community, am I guilty of idolizing technology?

    While letting this post and our subsequent comments percolate this past week, another question bubbled up: is this blog representative of Englewood (i.e. the entire communtiy), or simply of various voices within the community? I ask because I suspect there are quite a few members that would take issue with your criticism (dare I say, pot shot?) at FoF. Because you’re a poster and they are not, those opinions don’t get equal “air time”. Consequently your opinions might be construed as representative of the body as a whole.

    Individual opinion vs. corporate “policy” is the same problem that companies have to work out if they decide to allow employees to blog. If Engelwood really wants this blog to be representative of the discussion going on within the community, I would actively seek out the various elements within the community and encourage them to become posters (as well as commenters).

  4. The problem with FoF is not that they “specialize” but that their focus (haha) has usurped the Kingdom of God and the mission of God in the world. To borrow language from our Sunday night conversation (more on that in a minute), FoF actively promotes the idolatrous mentality that the biolgical family is the primary institution in the world and that the church exists primarily as a tool to serve families. Have you read David Langford’s article that was posted? Although he makes no explicit reference to FoF (as I recall), the idolatry that he names has been the bread-n-butter of FoF’s work.

    Although you’re absolutely right that we rarely are of one mind on things here at Englewood (a reality that breaks our heart and probably God’s too), it is equally wrong to assume that when I post something, I am merely posting my own opinions (though that might occur from time to time). I try my best to post articles and ideas that are reflective of the on-going conversations that we are having and — to quote our tagline and Eph 3:10 — , “the manifold wisdom of God” and the manifold ways in which we here at Englewood have been called to reflect that wisdom (gardening, neighborhood work, conversations, etc). We did talk about FoF very briefly as part of our Sunday night discussion a few weeks ago and the general consensus was that FoF does play a huge role in propagating the idolatry that Langford names. Be clear that this opinion is not just mine that is wavering by itself somewhere out in lala-land, but is one that a number of our people agree upon.

    Yeah, I see the struggle that you have named, but beyond our covenant, I don’t know that there is much that we agree upon that is “representative the body as a whole.” AND we had to struggle for 18 months just produce the covenant. Given this reality, I agree with you that I’d love to see more people participating in this blog as posters and commenters: see my post this morning and the addition of the latest comments widget which hopefully will facilitate conversation via the comments.