Acts – A Model For Today?

One critical discussion point in New Testament theology surrounds the purpose of the book of Acts. Many think it is just in the Bible to tell us how the church was formed. But 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that every part of the Bible is intended to teach us doctrine and practice. Also, Acts shows many signs of being an idealized account of early church history, and thus, I have always believed that Acts was intended as a model for us today.

Theologians call these two views of Acts “formative” vs “normative.” Marcus Honesysett takes this point up and says:

“But more importantly why should formative and normative be exclusive categories? If God worked in particular ways to establish churches and the worldwide missionary endeavor, would it be so very strange if he continues to do so? Is it not better to say that what was formative for missions and church-planting should generally be normative for missions and church-planting? If we don’t see it in our situations today, it is our situation and experience that needs to be aligned to the New Testament pattern, not the other way round. The main difficulty I have with the formative-not-normative argument is that it leaves me with the freedom to decide which bits I should apply as relevant today and which bits I can avoid. I don’t think Luke wants us to decide what to apply; I think Luke wants us to apply all of it.”

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