I used to dream of a church that was not heirarcical, but relational. I found it, and realized that a relational church can get pretty dicey when there are serious relational challenges. I looked back across the fence at my friend who kindly offered that it’d be pretty nice to have some arbiter in such situations, wouldn’t it? Not to declare ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, but to chart some way forward. Like, maybe a denominational structure of some kind?
I’ve dreamed lately of a non-Platonic, non-Augustinian, non-Constantinian expression of Christianity. So naturally, I longed for some good old Celtic Christianity, from the remote Isle that Constantine didn’t bother to conquer. You can imagine my excitement when I met a real Irishman at Soularize, and heard that he was going to lead a session on Celtic Spirituality. Which was really wonderful, but more than a little weird: it began with my new friend singing a beautiful song while walking around the circle and clutching each of our feet, one by one. From there, it got even stranger: it was non-rational, illogical, unstructured, non-chronological, and almost impossible for my Platonic, Augustinian, Constantinian brain to follow.
A lot of people pine for first-century Christianity– the straight, pure stuff, right from the disciples. As I’ve been hanging out with my friend Ryan lately, I’ve had an epiphany: he’s probably the closest I’ve come to first-century Christianity. He’s averse to the classic Creeds (they weren’t written yet), he’s leery of the Empire, he’s got some reservations about Scripture (which corpus didn’t exist then), and he stares at the current debate between Orthodoxy (‘right belief) and Orthopraxy (‘right practice’) with unblinking indifference (“what’s with all of this business about ‘right’? We just need to do some stuff!”). He’s pastoral, if a little volatile, and a touchpoint of his life is in a very mystical experience years ago. He’s the first-century church, right on my doorstep.