Beyond One-Sided Either/Or Christianity
We live in a church context where so many embrace unbiblical either/or understandings of Christianity: Either evangelism or social action, either inward journey or outward journey. And on and on.
It is the widespread onesidedness that makes Rich Nathan’s new book so exciting. Rich (the pastor of a large Vineyard church in Columbus, Ohio) and his co-author Insoo Kim have written a marvelously biblically balanced book: Both-And: Living the Christ-Centered Life in an Either-Or World (IVP, 2013).
Both-And says we must be both evangelical and charismatic. Our congregations must embrace both unity in Christian essentials and diversity in everything else. We need evangelistic proclamation and a demonstration of Christian love in action. We must combine mercy and justice. Our ethic must be grounded in a clear understanding that sin is personal and social. Orthodox doctrine and relevant practice are both crucial. And all this is grounded in a clear understanding that the kingdom Jesus inaugurated has already begun but will not be completed until Christ’s return.
Fortunately, this is not just theory. Rich’s huge Vineyard church is actually doing all these things! And his book tells great stories about how biblical both/and balance works better than one-sided either-or approaches.
Rich Nathan’s book offers both solid encouragement and helpful ideas for those longing to grow local congregations that embrace biblical balance. It is a must read for pastors, seminary students, and anyone tired of one-sided Christianity.
Ron Sider is president emeritus of Evangelicals for Social Action and professor and director of the Sider Center on Ministry and Public Policy at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary.