July 06, 2007

I've Finished Reading "Community 101"

I read this book as a required text for the course I'm currently taking in seminary. The course is "The Theology And History Of Fellowship" and focuses on Christology (Jesus), Ecclesiology (The Church), The Trinity, and how all of that fits into both developing and fostering Biblical Christian Community today.

Gilbert Bilezikian is one of the founding members of Willow Creek Community Church. It is known that he was one of the first people Bill Hybels approached about starting the church and it was in Gilbert's back yard that Willow Creek began to take shape.

So as I approached this book, I thought for sure it would be a good exegesis and practical methodology for how to build, develop, and sustain Biblical community within the church. It wasn't. It's not to say that the book was all bad, but at the same time, it has a lot to be desired.

Not only is Community 101 not sound exegesis, it is a book laced with an underlying "egalitarian" theme. For those who just went "egalitarian - what the heck does that mean?", Egalitarian is a view of manhood and womanhood that essentially says there is no gender distinctions in roles and that man and woman are essentially equal in their characteristics, abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Egalitarian approaches to church stress that men and women equally can hold any position of ministry in the church and that the Bible makes no distinction or prohibitions based on gender. Gilbert is certainly in that camp. And not only is he in that camp, he is most decidedly "anti-complementarian".

For those of you who went "complimentarian?". Complementarian views of manhood and womanhood say that God most certainly did have a purpose in creating man and woman and he gave each gender strengths and weaknesses that very much "complement" each other. While both genders are absolutely equal in God's eyes and in ther image of Christ, they do have God ordained distinctions arising from their gender and therefore, God has woven throughout the Bible how gender can play a wonderful role in bringing Biblical community, families, and a world together. Equal in nature, different in roles. That's the "complementarian" view of manhood and womanhood.

So not only is Bilezekian anti-complementarian, he is also openly hostile and disdainful of people who hold this view. Which sets him against the likes of John Piper, Wayne Grudem, Albert Mohler, John MacArthur, Mark Dever, et call. So Bilezekian definitely finds himself in lonely territory from a sound Biblical exegesis standpoints.

To be fair, he does make some good analogies related to the cross and how that enables biblical community. He makes somes good statements, but more than anything, the underlying theme is most certainly promoting egalitarian views of Biblical community. I found myself reading the book just waiting for the chapter on why women as pastors is Biblical and sure enough, it came around page 100. Bilezekian's book "Beyond Sex Roles" is also a furtherance of his views concerning the matter.

All in all, I found this book of no help in addressing the problems of seeing true community form in our churches. It's a personal rant by the author and his bias and opinions shine forth way too much. For a 101 book, it wasn't very good. You can definitely sense the "emerging" overtones in this book. High on rhetoric and fluffy words to evoke emotion, low on truth and suggestions on how to actually get that done. Also, he makes some really big statements about his views on certain texts of the Bible and gives no fair treatment to other views on the matter.

For anyone who wants a true, thoughtful, and Biblically sound treatment of "egalitarian" vs. "complementarian", you need to go here and read "Recovering Biblical Manhood And Womanhood" by John Piper and Wayne Grudem. Much more solid from a theological perspective.

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