Ecclesia res publica


After 18 months and 1,300 hours of reading and writing in the early hours of the mornings I've been trying to summarise my learnings, by editing my PhD Methodology.

In short trying to get into one document, what I am doing, and why I am doing it, along with an outline for each chapter of the thesis I now want to spend the next 4.5 years finishing.

When people ask me in general, I talk about how I'm exploring how consumerism and secularism are like a religious system and what are the implications of that for how we do church.

It's been interesting (for me at least), to watch that take shape around a method, and specific thesis.

In particular, I'm looking at two key challenges, firstly how secularism seeks to privatize Christian faith into nothing more than a religious association or club for individuals. Then alongside that I am exploring how commodification fragments bodies and communities into individuals, unable to do life together in community.

In terms of church, I think this means that we are unable to be a genuine 'public' anymore. Ecclesiology then becomes about accommodations to that privatization and 'private God spaces', and less about the redemption of Creation in Jesus and our experience of that together as the church, in every space of life.

The loss of confidence of being a genuine public, is the loss of what it means to become and be a christian.

The scandal of early church was that it took the God of the personal, 'Abba Father', and worshipped him in public, it refused to keep him at home, in private, whereas the Romans practiced their private devotions away from the state Gods.

The rest of the scandal, was the bringing of the God of the public into the home, the households. In a society where women had no place, where only a few were citizens, whole households, that were more like business communities, met together declaring non citizens to be citizens, and gave each other worth and status.

No wonder the church was a radical and revolutionary cult, able to undermine the power of the Roman Empire.

I suspect that finding ways of doing church, to fit a consumer rhythm, of private God spaces, conformed to my agenda and convenience, around what I like or don't is no kind of revolution at all.

If the market and consumer dream is the new empire, if I am the new Caesar of my life, what does it mean to bring Abba Father into my work, and my community? And what does it mean to bring the Lord of Creation into my private life, and order my inner life around the reality of the resurrection of Jesus?

That's the real revolution I'm trying to explore.