May 27, 2015

The Use of Acts in Developing Church Practice

Loveday Alexander, in a chapter entitled, “Community and Canon: Reflections on the Ecclesiology of Acts,”makes the following insightful comment regarding the use of Acts in debates concerning church practices. 
In such debates, all protagonists tend to cite biblical models in favour of their own position: so it seems pertinent for us, as biblical scholars, to re-examine the model of the church which all Christian sects and denominations claim as their fons et origo, the church of the apostles as portrayed in the book of Acts. The book of Acts has been used to provide a scriptural basis for a variety of ecclesiologies, from catholic to charismatic: and all (or most) of these to some extent can be justified from within the text. The search for Luke's ecclesiology is thus partly an exercise in deconstruction, in detaching the text from the layers of interpretation which inevitably read Luke's story in the light of their own times and experiences. It is also an exercise in disciplined attentiveness to Luke's own rhetorical agenda, in which ecclesiology as such plays a relatively minor part. But in the end, we have to come back to the broader, hermeneutical question: how can this text help us today to construct an ecclesiology for our own time and place?
Loveday Alexander, “Community and Canon: Reflections on the Ecclesiology of Acts,” in Einheit der Kirche im Neuen Testament: Dritte europäische orthodox-westliche Exegetenkonferenz in Sankt Petersburg 24.–31. August 2005, ed. Anatoly A. Alexeev, Christos Karakolis and Ulrich Luz in collaboration with Karl - Wilhelm Niebuhr, Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 218, ed. Jörg Frey (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2008), 46.

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