I like to think. I like to think new things and seek to develop original ideas. I also enjoy reading and interacting with those who think in fresh ways. One of the people who I enjoy reading is David Fitch. He is a missiologist who is calling the church to be local and missional. He understands that the gospel needs to be contextualized to particular local contexts without undermining its narrative truth.
That being said, I think that David does something in a recent post which is not authentic. He is discussing how to deal with conflict in the community of believers. He evaluates two approaches which are highlighted in the work of Al Mohler and Brian McLaren. He argues that neither of their approaches (autocratic or democratic) fit with the biblical model and he calls for a “new” approach, the incarnational.
I want to briefly summarize this approach:
- People in disagreement are encouraged to discuss one on one.
- If there is continued disagreement three or four are brought together.
- If there is continued disagreement the acknowledged leaders are brought into the conversation.
- If there is continued disagreement the issue is brought before the whole church.
If this sounds strangely familiar it is because it is. This is what we find in Matthew 18. It is also the methodology outlined in the Book of Order for the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. I appreciate that David is calling the church back to this reality. I agree with his conclusions. What I struggle with is that he encapsulates the call in language that makes it sound like a “new” thing.
I think we need to be careful about a quest for the unconventional that does not credit the past rightly. I also think that we need to look around and notice that many of the processes put in place by those who have come before us are good and helpful.