Letter from the Editor

Eric Landry
Friday, May 1st 2015
May/Jun 2015

Who were your most formative influences in life? What experiences have made you into the person you are today? Our families’in both their healthy and dysfunctional forms’continue to shape and reshape all of us well into our old age. Sometimes we feel as if we’ll never be free from their unhealthy influence on us; sometimes we long for the warmth and embrace of those we were born to love. When the Bible uses the term “family” to refer to our relationships in the church, it brings to bear all the good and bad connotations of that word to the fellowship of the saints.

It’s not hard to imagine that families in the first century had many of the same underlying problems that families have today. Sibling rivalry, absentee fathers, smothering mothers’the stereotypes ring true because they’re part of human nature. Still, “family” is the term the Bible uses to describe God’s people. So, by using such an earthly word, God is telling us that even this new relationship born out of belief will be touched by many of the same joys and struggles that our biological families share.

Yet when Christians are brought into the family of God, their belonging isn’t a matter of DNA: “Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother,” says Jesus (Matt. 12:50). Ideally, then, the “whoever-ness” of this new family makes it broader and more representative of all the tongues, tribes, and nations of earth than your own natural family. The sad reality, however, is that our church families look too much like our natural families’mere extensions of the stratified community into which each of our families is carefully placed.

Is there a way to overcome the natural and all too common barriers to belonging to the people of God? Can the waters of baptism trump our genetic and social predispositions to people who look like we do, vote like we do, educate their kids like we do, laugh at the same jokes, and shop at the same stores? In this issue, we marshal the best theological, exegetical, and sociological resources to help us rediscover our new identity in Christ.

First up is Presbyterian pastor and theologian David VanDrunen, who helps us understand what the Bible says about the church and our new family relationships in the church. Christopher Smith, coauthor of Slow Church, follows this biblical-theological review with some practical advice for nurturing the faith-formed relationships in the local church. Reformed philosopher James K. A. Smith compares the competing liturgies of church and culture, asking how our natural families are formed (or deformed) by these rhythms of faith and life. Lutheran theologian Piotr Malysz returns to our pages with a discussion of the togetherness of Christian worship and the ways that God’s ongoing work in the church creates a new community of faith.

Our hope with this issue is that it will increase our understanding and appreciation of the church and benefit not only you and your natural family as you all worship God, but also your new family in Christ’prepared together for that great day when we dine with him at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

Photo of Eric Landry
Eric Landry
Eric Landry is the chief content officer of Sola Media and former executive editor of Modern Reformation. He also serves as the senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas.
Friday, May 1st 2015

“Modern Reformation has championed confessional Reformation theology in an anti-confessional and anti-theological age.”

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