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A Gathered People: Revisioning the Assembly…

A Gathered People: Revisioning the Assembly as Transforming Encounter

by John Mark Hicks

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An exploration of the nature and role of the assembly in Christianity and its antecedents in Israel.

The authors set forth their thesis at the beginning: the assembly should be seen as a type of sacrament, a transformative encounter among the people of God with their God as they meet at the Table and in the Word together. The authors trace the experience and the importance of the assembly in Israel, explore what the New Testament says about the assembly, provide a historical survey of the experience of the assembly in Christendom, and establish a particular focus on the assembly, its practices, and the discussions regarding it within the Restoration/Stone-Campbell movement.

The authors seek to find a middle way in the disputations about worship; I found their analysis personally less than satisfying, maintaining the prima facie association between the word "worship" and all its variant meanings in English without a truly close reading of the permutations and distinctions inherent in the Greek words all now translated by "worship." Thus their use of "worship" is often according to the English sense of the term, less so as seen in the NT (in which the primary word, proskuneo, has almost no relation to the Christian assembly, and other terms, latreuo, leiturgeo, eusebeo, etc., have as much connection with the assembly as the rest of the Christian life). Nevertheless, the authors do well to moderate between the assembly-as-obligation emphasis often made on one side of the spectrum, and the assembly-as-whatever-we-want emphasis made on the other side.

A worthwhile resource on the importance and value of the assembly. ( )
  deusvitae | May 23, 2016 |
The authors are members of the churches of Christ.

The Epilogue of this well-written book includes a sentence which documents the book's focus. "Assembly as a transforming, sacramental encounter that calls us to participate in the mission of God is the foundation for discussing all other questions about the assembly." (p. 175) The Epilogue also lists numerous topics that are bothersome to some persons of the churches of Christ, such as the use of instrumental music in the assembly, special music, written prayers, number of cups in use for the Lord's Supper, and many, many more -- all of which the authors assert are secondary to the focus of the book, and hence not discussed to a great extent.

Hicks works his way through the nature and purpose of "assembly" in the Bible and provides a critique of the "Five Acts Model" and "The Edification Model" common to the churches of Christ. Each is described as coming up short of the "sacramental encounter" the author believes the assembly is intended to be.

The "what," "how," and "why" of assemblies of the disciples and early church is discussed. The role of the "Word" and "Table" in worship assemblies as documented in Luke and Acts is explained.

A chapter is devoted to "Assembly in Christian History" and another to "Assembly among Churches of Christ." Both are well-documented and fairly presented.

Chapters six "Gathered to God: Divine Presence in the Assembly" and seven "Contemporary Gatherings: Assembly Worthy of the Gospel" are devoted to describing the "sacramental encounter."

The book is the third of a trilogy by the author, the others being Come to the Table: Revisioning the Lord's Supper and Down to the River to Pray: Revisioning Baptism as God's Transforming Work. As with the other two books, there are numerous resources cited, questions for discussion, and bibliographies. There is no index. ( )
  SCRH | Apr 11, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0891125507, Paperback)

As a companion volume to COME TO THE TABLE and DOWN IN THE RIVER TO PRAY, this book completes a trilogy on the three ordinances; of the Stone-Campbell Movement. A GATHERED PEOPLE is an in-depth biblical, historical, and theological study of the Christian assembly or Lord's Day. It examines Hebrew assemblies in the Old Testament, Christian assemblies in the NT, the changing nature of assemblies in Christian history, and the assembly in the Stone-Campbell heritage. It concludes with a theological argument about the nature and purpose of the assembly, and reflections on Christian assemblies today. Alexander Campbell taught that there were three ordinances in the Christian faith ... The Lord's Supper, Baptism and the Lord's Day. This series revisions those ordinances and helps us better understand our relationship to our Father God. The other two books of this series are: Come to the Table: Revisioning the Lord's Supper by John Mark Hicks and Down in the River to Pray: Revisioning Baptism as God s Transforming Power by John Mark Hicks and Greg Taylor.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:59:57 -0400)

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