Barna, Bonhoeffer and True Revolution

George Barna, that evangelical weathercock, has a new book entitled Revolution: Finding Vibrant Faith Beyond the Walls of the Sanctuary. The title is typical for anyone who is a boomer and who cut their ideological teeth in the sixties. This one calls for a spiritual revolution that presents pristine first-century Christianity to a spiritually dessicated world, but does without the medium of the church, hence the subtitle. I appreciate aspects of Kevin Miller’s critical review of the Barna volume in Christianity Today—“No Church? No Problem”. Miller rightly observes that Barna’s “book merely reveals every thin spot in evangelical ecclesiology. We flamingly disregard 2,000 years of guidance under the Holy Spirit. We elevate private judgment above the collective wisdom of apostles, martyrs, reformers, and saints.” Here is Evangelicalism throwing the past and its caution to the winds and eloping with the fervently anti-institutional spirit of the age—a nymph with oh so many paramours. Nothing really revolutionary here. Just utter silliness and the giddiness of childish infatuation.

But as Miller rightly goes on to say, “Do you want to become a Revolutionary? First, trade your copy of [Barna’s] Revolution for Life Together, the manifesto written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer during the dark days of Nazi Germany. Then, if you want to do heroic and revolutionary exploits, go back to your local church.”

Wise advice. I do not agree with all of Bonhoeffer’s views, but his Life Together is a classic about Christian community. And it is in the Church that the Father will be glorified (Ephesians 3:21).