Re: [XTalk] Peter and Social Formation
- Good Morning Bob,
On May 10, 2009, at 7:59 PM, Bob Schacht wrote:
> Thanks for the interesting questions. I'd like to address some of
> them now,
> before moving on.
As you decided to deal with these questions now, I'll ask some more
questions, make a few comments and work on from this post.
>> Question(s) 1: Who do you place in "this fellowship of
>> disciples?" Is
>> this simply a reference to the 12/11 men? If so, help me
>> understand how
>> they are different from such as Mary Magdalene, Mary and Martha,
>> Nicodemus, etc. . . . .
> I see this fellowship as being defined by two things: Commitment, and
> knowledge/experience of Jesus before the crucifixion.
Where does commitment to God/ God's rule fit into this?
> Commitment meant
> leaving one's former occupation to devote one's life to the
> There are plenty of indications of this in the Gospels: The first
> group of
> disciples "left their nets in Galilee." There are loads of other
> I'm sure you know them.
So, you assume a peripatetic Jesus and the Gospel portraits of Jesus
followed by a band of 12 men following him full time? Does this mean
that Peter, for example, pretty much abandoned his wife and mother-in-
law and probably children and that James and John simply left dear
old Zebedee to make the fishing business work without them?
> And, following Acts 1:14, I would also include "certain women,"
> 14 All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer,
> together with
> certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his
An interesting exercise is to simply list out the named associates
(both "sent ones" and "home and wayside folks") of Jesus and as far
as possible, place them on the map. As a visual exercise it is
suggestive of the size and extent of the social network in Jesus'
day. An interesting question is, how much did Jesus actually
travel? Here I simply note that 6 pairs and then Luke's 35/6 pairs
obviously would cover a lot more ground that just Jesus and 12 guys.
> The brothers thing is interesting-- we know that later, Jesus' brother
> James became an important leader, but when did he become one of the
In my model for thinking about this that begins with a need and a
cause within Judaism, as opposed to a personality (Jesus) centered
social network, then there's no reason to think that the whole family
were not: a.) pious Jews and b.) positive about the cause of
reconciliation in those troubled circumstances. Paul's letters only
help us get to the time after Jesus' death. But notably to the
Galatians he cites Peter, James the Just (just to keep our James'
straight) and John as "the three Pillars." Likewise in the list of
those who had opthe's before him, only Peter and James are listed by
name. And then, the Gospel of Thomas makes it exceedingly plain who
the authority after Jesus' time was (G.Th. 12) and pays him an
extraordinary compliment. I'll return to the whole issue of growing
an organized bureaucracy out of a loose-y goose-y social networking
movement, but here I'll note two things: 1.) Once we get to the much
later Acts, James is still clearly understood as the go-to leader.
Peter reports to him. He has the defining word in the Jerusalem
conference. Whenever he **really got on board** he was the first
real leader of the post Jesus time. Per Josephus' little note, this
is also clear. And, 2.) if one thinks about this as a Jewish
religious movement wherein the questions of central religious
devotion are thought about in relationship to the God of Israel, and
not the later etching out of Christology, then the boundary issues or
"who's in" and "who's not" are different. My own model for thinking
through this is really "a percolating model." By this I mean, "Peace
of God"/ reconciliation belief in Judaism had long roots. That this
was forwarded into a social movement that got organized in a
particular way so as to lead to a social network, need not be thought
of as a kind of supernova event. As a model for thinking purposes,
James and Jesus may have been two peas in a pod about this, but Jesus
started it and only later did James really get involved. We don't
have timing data, but then that's actually not important to figuring
the big picture out. Paul's letters, G. Thomas, Josephus and Acts
all cite James the Just as the key leader after Jesus' death.
> You know from your own pastoral experience that maybe 5% of the
> of your church is actively engaged, and it is a number much smaller
> that who keep the church going on a day to day basis.
I'm a small church pastor and in small church's that number has got
to be higher or one has no church. I think this is true of larger
churches, but then the dynamics change when one goes from a small
community/ family church to a larger group. In the preacher lingo
there are "pastoral churches" and "program driven churches."
>> Question(s) two: Why do you favor Luke's ending over that of
>> Matthew and Mark?
> Good question. I suppose you are referring to the Galilean ending
> in Matt.
> 28:16-20, . I don't know why you contrast with Mark, other than the
> allusion in 16:7, rather than referring to the Galilean postscript
> in John 21.
I am referring to the original ending in Mark. Mark suggests and
Matthew clearly says that the organizing post resurrection moment was
in Galilee and not Jerusalem. Matthew closes with Jesus' ascent from
the Mount of Beatitudes. Lay Matthew and Luke side by side and they
simply tell different stories. Your move is to somehow conflate
these. I just wonder what gives you warrant to do this? Why prefer
Luke over Matthew? For this point in the discussion I'm not at all
interested in the extended and weird ending of Mark:)!
>> And in terms of all those homes that the missional pairs went, were
>> received, dined/talked and healed, how do you understand the
>> of all this missional success to "the fellowship" you're talking
>> about? Were such as Jairus and his daughter, the Syro-Phoenician
>> and her child, Peter's mother-in-law a part of this fellowship of
>> believers or not?
> As above, I distinguish between the core fellowship of those with a
> level of commitment, and the rank and file of supporters/believers
> who do
> not share the same level of commitment or experience.
Here, I will simply note that in my model the connected homes are the
key places. The "goers" go to make for the network. It is the stay-
ers who are at the center of my model. So "commitment" here is
defined not simply by "belief" (ideational assent), but by the
willingness to welcome, feed, house, listen and talk, and so belong
to a social cause and be part of an active network.
>>> Thus, the communalism of Acts 2:42-47 and 4:32-37 was to some extent
>> born of practical necessity,
>>> rather than ideological fervor.
>> Question 3: I'll be interested in hearing what you mean by this???
> I should not have phrased in terms of either/or. What I meant to
> say is
> that the disciple's basic M.O. was the same as it was when they were
> traveling with Jesus, which included being received by households
> their way. Those with the highest level of commitment needed to
> know where
> the next meal would come from, and where they could sleep the next
> These were practical necessities. The leading thought was not, in
> my view,
> "Hey, communes are groovy! let's form a commune!" but "hey, Jesus
> told us
> to stay here in Jerusalem until some big thingy he was talking
> about. So,
> where are we going to stay tonight? Where can we find something to
> But these were not new questions; they were the same questions that
> come up time and again when they were traveling with Jesus.
I do think there is a pragmatism in all of this. Jewish religion is
very pragmatic! If one feeds and shelters a pair of guests, then
joins the network and next week 9 neighbors come over, then it is
going to take a lot more food. Among the peasant farmers and town
tradespersons, this meant a changed expense pattern unto itself. But
then as the movement was very interested in taking care of "widows
and orphans" (per Ep. of James) and the homeless and destitute (per
Jesus' words), then free sharing was a must. I am not talking
"groovy communes;)!" I am talking about a social ministry that
intentionally starts to deal with the huge burdens of living in a
foreign occupied country. Yet this pragmatism also contained a
"money where your mouth is" uplifting of old Jewish ideals about
justice. (think Micah 6:8, for example) A social network that made
"do justice, love kindness, walk humbly..." is an expensive
proposition in a Roman dominated, peasant culture. For us such
charity is about what we do with disposable income. This was quite
the challenge in these very challenging and dangerous circumstances.
This is where my model focuses on the issue of "commitment."
>> Bob, I'm actually hoping you'll not stop now to answer these
>> now, but will plow ahead with the original question list.
> Well, as you see, I could not resist temptation, and wanted to take
> time to
> respond to your excellent questions.
Thanks. I am glad these are helpful, as well.
>> In like fashion I'll follow suit. My point is not some big
>> debate over
>> approaches. You choose one way to work through these questions and I
>> another. Again, it is convergences that interest me. My comment
>> so far
>> is that you seem to be pointing towards "a preaching" dynamic that
>> the early work of the apostles. Is this correct?
> Well, I'm persuaded by the Great Commission thing, which sounds to
> me like
> a "preaching dynamic":
> Mark 16:15 And he said to them, "Go into all the world and proclaim
> good news to the whole creation.
> Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in
> and on earth has been given to me.
> 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them
> in the
> name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
> 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded
> you. And
> remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
> Luke 24: 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures,
> 46 and he said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to
> suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day,
> 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be
> proclaimed in his
> name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
> 48 You are witnesses of these things.
> So this doesn't sound to me like the marching orders for a bunch of
> (although I like Quakers a lot, and one of my brothers is one of
Here, I'll simply contrast again what that "good news" is. For you
and your model it is centrally a set of ideas about Jesus' death and
his continued presence. For me it is a shared experience (which is
inclusive of words, activities and deeds) of "God's rule." Per
Matthew's later lovely creation of "a Great Commission," making
disciples, in my view, is about making "followers" of this
"way" (again, "way of wisdom" (Ep. James), "fruits of the
Spirit" (Paul), "way of Life" (the Didache)). "Followers of the
Way" (as it was later called in Acts) was inclusive of both "sent
ones" and "receiving ones." I'll simply note that this model very
much means that kids were just as much a part of this movement as
were any adults. I say this not to be cute, but simply to note that
a home connecting movement necessarily is inclusive of children and
all for the usual business of "making babies." I don't think Jesus
was being cute or sentimental when he talked about the kids.
For now I'll leave aside baptism and the catechetical declaration,
and I'll go on to "teaching." I'll get to this particular role when
we come to the organizational duties. I also will write another note
about "the messaging content," but here I'll note Matthew's
"teaching obedience." Often this is thought of moralistically. In
my model I want to highlight the idea of the skills of making
reconciliation homes and a network work. Certain practices and
certain patterns of relating are what make such a network a
reality. Again we see Paul, James and the Didache forward mottos/
credos of these essential characteristics. They are not "law lists,"
they are "way lists." As a sailor, for example, is obedient to the
way to manage lines, sails and rudder in the face of the empowering
wind, so this call for obedience to "the ways of the Way," makes this
"Peace of God/ Kingdom rule" present and workable. (As an aside, if
one ponders this sort of obedience as being central, then one can get
a much better clue as to why Paul rails so hard against Torah
legalists. Legalism puts the proverbial cart before the horse. It
is indeed "the Spirit that gives life." This is perfectly in line
with Jesus' inquiries to legalists about their insistence on "washing
the outside of the cup.")
>> As we go on I want to focus on the home fellowship/ dining/ "Peace
>> of God"
>> sharing as the central dynamic. But continue on. When you want
>> to move
>> to the next question, I in like fashion will lay out what comes
>> from my
>> preferred approach.
You're welcome. This is an enjoyable discussion.
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