The Institutional Church

Alan Hirsch on the institutional church from Scott McKnight’s Jesus Creed Blog:

“Not to mention the fact that true to the prophetic tradition in the Scriptures, Jesus himself seemed to have real problems with it [intuitional religion]. Jacques Ellul calls the movement that Jesus started ‘anti-religion’ because it debunks all that we normally institute to mediate the knowledge of God. See my post on this

“As for the terminology of ‘command and control’ actually this is taken from the language of management theory itself. Particularly military models of leadership and structure. But in applying it to the church I find that it actually is the way we tend to operate. I hate to say it, but history shows that we can be serious control freaks!”

And he goes on to say:

“The problem that Jesus’ message presents to the institution is precisely the fact that God cannot be mediated in this way. The Way of Jesus opens up the God-relationship to anyone who will enter, and in the case of Jesus it was all the ‘wrong’ people who were now entering in while the ‘right’ people were being left out! And it was this that so offended the religious dudes of the time because they rightly intuited the fall of their entire system in the words, life, and actions of Jesus. He was a threat, make no mistake. And he still is to all systems who attempt to construct a religion.
I seriously entourage you to read Jacques Ellul’s The Subversion of Christianity on this.”

In a latter comment Hirsch clarifies that he is not anti-structure or anti-leadership, but he does redefine both in order to move away from the military/CEO model that readily becomes our default.

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3 thoughts on “The Institutional Church

  1. ed Post author

    How true Alan. Even as a part of a home church I still have a hard time conceiving of another kind of church without the top down leadership.

    I think is a good example of how one pastor is modeling a more interactive way of forming theology and leading from within the pack.

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