April 22 and 23 I was down at Lipscomb University at the sponsorship of Missio Alliance and Lipscomb’s fine Bible and theology department in the Hazelip School of Theology for an evening discussion of A Fellowship of Differents, and then a double morning session on Kingdom Conspiracy. The two sessions on the 23d featured a panel discussion with Lipscomb and Churches of Christ folks — Lee Camp, Rubel Shelly, Alicia Griffin and Dave Clayton. (No one, you may know, gets anything exegetical, biblical or ethical by Lee or Rubel!)
The essence of my evening talk was this:
1. Those who write about Paul tend to avoid the Christian life or reduce it to terms connected with individualism.
2. Those who write about the Christian life tend to avoid Paul’s vision of the Christian life and so also join hands with the individualistic approaches.
3. Paul’s vision for the Christian life is an ecclesial life — that is a life lived in fellowship with others under Jesus as king. Hence, the corporate nature or interrelational nature of what Paul says about the Christian life.
I expound this in A Fellowship of Differents, and we then closed with a brief sketch of what “love” means in the Bible and Paul when he is urging people to “love one another.” It was a great time with these folks from churches in the Nashville area.
The morning session had two themes: getting the kingdom back into the Bible (building a biblical approach to kingdom) and getting the kingdom back into the church (showing how closely the kingdom vision of the Bible is to the church vision). To be sure, not all are on board with my the “same but not identical” approach to kingdom and church, but I found at Lipscomb, as I always have, a willingness to listen to anything argued from the Bible. Many agree that we have let “kingdom” wander into the public sector while keeping church at home, and many agree that far too many are using kingdom vision against church vision.
It was great to be with so many friends at Lipscomb, including Earl Lavender and Leonard Allen and Rubel Shelly as well as Lee Camp and Phillip Camp and John York, and my friend Josh Graves who pastors at Otter Creek.
One again, a huge thanks to JR Rozko of Missio Alliance for leading the event with Earl and Leonard as they brought this all together to help raise a conversation about the relationship of church and kingdom.