So I confess I’m not quite sure how this “Jerusalem to Antioch” thing is supposed to ‘work.’ I get the intent of this construction of history: that there were ‘establishment’ people in Jerusalem, and that Antioch was ‘missional,’ and that they had to figure out a way to talk with one another with mutual respect for the sake of the gospel. (At least I think that’s in the neighborhood of what Wes was driving at.)
But here are a couple issues I have with this construal.
First, it’s pretty limited to a very early, intra-Biblical context. Wes’s report reads the first century of the life of the church as a template for the 21st. Aside from the fact that there was a vast variety of expressions of the nascent Christian community (not just an Antiochene form — and there was probably more than ‘one thing’ happening in Antioch), whenever I encounter this I start sniffing around for re-pristination. Maybe I’m just of a suspicious nature.
Second item: OK, so maybe early Jerusalem/Antioch. But it wasn’t long before Antioch spawned not only different ways of ‘being church,’ but decidedly different theologies began to take root as the church hit the hustings. Are we willing to go back beyond Chalcedon? Talk about a time of conflict — we get too much into that era of time and we’ll be slaughtering each other and the politicking will make our puny little GS maneuverings look like child’s play.
Third issue — I’m really just trying to solicit your thoughts more than put down anything systematic of my own — I don’t know that we would even much say that we’re children of Antioch. Maybe — but the missions to northern Europe didn’t come until much later, and it wasn’t exactly the people who were any longer “Antiochene” who were missionizing our early ancestors. By that time it the missionaries were Roman, weren’t they, who saw themselves quite distinctively different from Antiochene Christians?
Well, I’m just playing around with the thematic thrust of Wes’s speech. I’m reading Christianity: The First 3000 Years for a refresher, and it got me thinking. What do y’all think?