Identifying Apostolic Christianity: A Synthesis Of Viewpoints -- By: Charles J. Conniry, Jr.
JETS 37:2 (June 1994) p. 247
Identifying Apostolic Christianity:
A Synthesis Of Viewpoints
* Charles Conniry is senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Box 302, Ramona, CA 92065.
The apostolic nature of the Christian faith has been appealed to as the basis by which a multiplicity of ecclesiastical, ecumenical, theological and missiological agendas is justified. Although these various agendas are legion and the process of isolating and analyzing them individually would be insurmountable, their respective emphases can be summarily categorized. Some scholars emphasize apostolicity as a means of establishing the institutional authority of the Church.1 For the purposes of this study, such an emphasis will be termed “ecclesial apostolicity.” Other scholars look to the apostolic character of the Church in order to identify a norm by which the legitimacy of subsequent accretions is determined.2 With this emphasis particular appeal is made to the Bible, especially to the NT. Thus a fitting term for this line of inquiry is “Biblical apostolicity.” Still others understand the apostolic nature of the Church to be bound up in the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit. Thus regarded, apostleship is a charisma of the Spirit that is as much a part of today’s Church as it was in the first century.3 This emphasis will be called “pneumatic apostolicity.” A related and
JETS 37:2 (June 1994) p. 248
yet distinct emphasis sees the Church’s apostolic character actualized in the faithful carrying out of its mission.4 Hence the designation “kerygmatic apostolicity” seems fitting.
What will be demonstrated in this study is that, while a firm grasp of the subject can be achieved as the respective emphases are examined, unless each particular emphasis is allowed to inform the other emphases from which it is distinguished the path to understanding the apostolic character of postmodern Christianity remains obstructed. Each view is commendable in its own right but is incomplete. Nor are they mutually exclusive. The burden of this study, then, is to take a fair sampling of what scholarship in each camp has said concerning apostolicity and, after critically interacting with this material, demonstrate the points at which each emphasis logically converges with the groups that have approached the subject differently. From this line of inquiry will come the delineation of several characteristics by which the Church’s apostolic nature can be identified amid the pluralism of today’s Christian scene.
I. Ecclesial Apostolicit...
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