The Fallen World System is the problem for which kingdomculture embodied in the Capital C Church is the solution.
Putting the phrase “Capital C” in front of the word Church is necessary in order to be clear that there’s more to the Church than just distinctive expressions of the Church like the “local church,” the “mission church,” the “house church,” the “mega church,” or the “established church” as this term is used in such statements as, “millions of believers have moved beyond the established church…and chosen to be the church instead.” Additionally, in regards to denominations, there is the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church, the Anglican Church, the Lutheran Church, the Presbyterian Church, the Baptist Church, and so on. Basileia is the Basileian Church.
Distinctive expressions of the Church are fine as far as they go. It’s just that alone they don’t go far enough.
It is not a problem but simply an inescapable fact that any distinctive expression of the Church is going to be distinctive. In fact, distinctives are natural, desirable and divinely ordained. The sin of Babel was Ham’s attempt to subordinate the distinctive languages and peoples of the earth to the archetype of the Fallen World System – Babylon. Captives in Babylon are exiles from their own country, reduced to focusing on maintaining their unique cultural distinctives least they become totally assimilated. Exiles are prodigals in the pigpen, slaves in someone else’s world hanging on by their fingernails for a better day. Exiles live in someone else’s house subject to someone else’s rules. Exiles are not free to run their own house, that is, their own city, their own nation, their own world system, because they are captive to someone else’s world system. Living in exile is a problem for which merely maintaining one’s distinctives is no solution, however legitimate those distinctives may be in their own right. The solution to the problem of exile is when a diverse group of exiles, with all their distinctives intact, celebrate and embody the common meta-culture they share. On that day, exile ends.
Kingdomculture is the common meta-culture of the People of God, the new wine of the Kingdom of God. And the Capital C Church is the new wineskin of the Kingdom of God, able to embody this new wine.
It takes a world system to beat a world system. Kingdomculture embodied in the Capital C Church is the alternative world system (a.k.a., the Kingdom of God) that beats the Fallen World System. The Kingdom of God apart from kingdomculture embodied in the Capital C Church is a gnostic myth. Local, mission, house, mega, established, Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Baptist and Basileian expressions of the Church, each in varying degrees will either express their distinctives within the Fallen World System or within the Kingdom of God. To say, “millions of believers have moved beyond the established church…and chosen to be the church instead,” begs the question. The question that begs for an answer is: Have these millions of believers “chosen to be the church” in the Fallen World System or in the Kingdom of God? Celebrating distinctives in the Fallen World System is exile. Celebrating distinctives in the Kingdom of God first requires embodying kingdomculture as the Capital C Church. This is the end of exile.
Before discussing a distinctive and practical way that Basileia aims to embody kingdomculture as the Capital C Church, let’s answer a question that is really begging for an answer at this point, namely, What is the Capital C Church?
What is the Capital C Church?
“My Lord and my God!,” said Thomas, after touching the Body of Christ.
To touch the Capital C Church is to touch the Body of Christ and like Thomas, have a “My Lord and my God!” revolutionary epiphany where the veil parts and we experience the Church for what she really is, which is not churches, “sacraments,” “theology,” “morality,” “Christianity,” a nonprofit organization, a non-government organization, an institution in someone else’s society, a building, an evangelistic or a military crusade, a voluntary association of individuals, an association of churches, a local church in contrast to a parachurch organization, a mega church, a house church, believers who “have moved beyond the established church…and chosen to be the church instead,” a chaplain to the institutions of the world, or an invisible and private religious organization. None of these things generate an authentic, positive world-shattering realization worthy of a “My Lord and my God!” outburst. So what does?
To touch the Capital C Church is to touch totus Christus, Jesus the Head and His Body as one. “The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence” (Eph. 1:22-23, The Message). In touching Christ’s body, Thomas experienced the living, breathing, resurrected reality of “God with us.” God with us is what makes life real, natural and authentic. Because Christ “fills everything with his presence” through the Church (like when new wine fills a new wineskin), when Thomas touched Christ’s body, he experienced in a perfect moment the mystical convergence of all the ancient promises and all of humanity’s future hopes. For in touching the Body of Christ, Thomas touched everything in the universe at once, just as it is supposed to be. Everything, everyone, and every moment is supposed to be connected and united in Christ’s body. Thomas’ moment of epiphany and enlightenment, this instant when he broke through to the other side, this flash when he suddenly was transported from the old world into the new, passing over from shadow into light – this all happened when he touched the Body of Christ.
Each of our five main Basileian disciplines and their respective practices function as doorways for touching the Body of Christ – for embodying kingdomculture in the Capital C Church. Some people may initially experience a Thomas-type epiphany regarding the Capital C Church by connecting with the Communion of Saints across time and space through the Daily Office, for example. For others, Eucharistic worship or contemplative prayer becomes a doorway through which they discover the Capital C Church. For still others the doorway could be the discovery that the One-Source View of authority enables diverse individuals and expressions of the Church to come into consensus about the will of God. More examples could be multiplied. Some of the “My Lord and my God” dimensions of the Capital C Church that Basileians have had epiphanies about are grouped together below according to our five core disciplines of Journey, Assemble, Listen, Govern and Serve.
Our five main Basileian disciplines and their respective practices can and should be expressed in distinctive ways by each individual and jurisdiction of Basileia. But this is not all that can and must be done. Our disciplines are also an opportunity to cultivate that common sense of what it means to embody kingdomculture as the Capital C Church. There are two sides of the coin to being the Church: 1) cultivating our respective distinctives and 2) cultivating that which we all have in common as the Church. Doing the former without also doing the latter is to be in exile under tyrants. To do the latter without also doing the former is to be tyrants.
Below various points that reflect our understanding of what it means to be the Capital C Church are grouped together under our main Basileian disciplines.
Journeying as the Capital C Church
In all the distinctive ways that we as Basileians engage in Eucharistic worship, pray the Daily Office, and practice contemplative prayer, we endeavor to do so only in ways that embody the truth of the following:
1. The alternative world system. The Capital C Church does not replace the ruined institutions of the Fallen World System with Christian institutions but replaces the Fallen World System itself altogether with the alternative world system of the Kingdom of God. The true destiny of any individual, institution, culture or nation is realized on the day when they repudiate the Fallen World System and embrace the Kingdom of God. The Church is the alternative city, colony, unique society and empire of God, not merely a religious institution or movement in someone else’s city, colony, society or empire. She has her own institutions, language, flag, calendar, ceremonies, leaders, borders and Emperor, and so is not a member in any sense of the Fallen World System. She goes into that system in order to replace it, not to be of it.
2. Discipling citizens of the Kingdom. The Capital C Church does not seek to convert sinners into saints within the Fallen World System, but to disciple sinners – which includes both believers and unbelievers – into citizens of the alternative world system, the Kingdom of God.
3. Discipling institutions of the Kingdom. The Capital C Church is not a “chaplain” to the institutions of the Fallen World System, but calls all such institutions to repudiate their membership in that system and transfer their allegiance to the Kingdom of God. Starting “Christian Schools,” for example, is a huge waste if those schools function as part of the Fallen World System. The gospel of the Kingdom of God calls schools everywhere to cut all ties to the fallen world and realign themselves under Emperor Jesus’ new world order. Failure to do so is failure. There is the civilization of Adam and the civilization of the Second Adam. The Church calls all individuals and all collectives to cut their losses with Adam and enlist in the Second Adam’s new world order.
4. The goal of history. The Capital C Church is the goal of history, the final empire and eschatological form of humanity, not an institution of the fallen world. When 2,000 years ago the Roman Empire crucified the Lord Jesus Christ, that single action demonstrated that there is something chronically sick, morally bankrupt and fundamentally broken in the empires of the Fallen World System. The Church’s mission is not to heal these empires, but to point them to the waters of baptism where they can die to the fallen system that binds them in order then to be raised again from death to life as a new creation in the Kingdom of God.
5. Salvation. The Capital C Church is salvation in the sense that she is the Body of Christ in which all things in heaven and earth are reconciled. The Church is not a salvation bank that individuals can make withdrawals from to be “saved” anymore than salvation can be found outside of the Church. There is no reconciliation that exists as some kind of substance inside of or outside of Christ and His Church because Christ and His Church are the embodiment of the reconciliation that creation needs and longs for. Christ and His Church are the substance of reconciliation. The Church as Christ’s Body is the mustard seed form of salvation for all creation – a seed that is even now growing into a mustard tree larger with each sunrise.
6. Anchored in the original through worship. The Capital C Church integrates both the future and what is ancient or “original” into the present through worship, which is the true center of any community. Before the eighteenth century the word “original” meant something that was present at creation, at the origin, which has persisted to the present day. However, the modern use of the word “original” expresses what is new, novel, spontaneous and fresh that has no relation to the origin of anything at creation and thus has no history of development from the origin up to today. The project of liberalism promotes what is novel in order to create civilizations without the kind of ritual that is grounded in the origin of created things. Thus all liberalized ritual is rootless and empty and therefore will never satisfy the human heart. In the modern city, for example, even the basic creational ritual pattern of light and darkness is obscured by an artificially lit constant day. Liberalized rootless worship breeds ignorance of the divine order of things, inevitably resulting in the breakdown of social order.
7. Uniting cultures into the Empire of God. The Capital C Church unites local cultures into the kingdomcultural global Empire of God, and is therefore against all forms of empire – whether of the United States, Russia, Great Brittan, China, the United Nations, etc. – when they operate as counterfeit empires of the Kingdom of God, creating in their wake all manner of social injustices.
8. The head-on collision with false empires. The Capital C Church is in a head-on collision with all areas of thought and life not subject to Christ and His Church, understanding that all divine punishment is ultimately restorative and meant to bring about salvation. The Church is not just in competition with other religions, but with every false empire produced by these religions, including the false church of humanistic secularism known as the United Nations, that seeks to bring about global peace and prosperity through political, economic and social institutions not subject to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
9. The most radical form of political activism. The Capital C Church is not against political activism because to be the Church is already the most radical form of political activism. Kingdomcultural activism rejects the modern and postmodern liberal philosophy that all religion must be privatized because it stirs up public discord and even bloodshed in war when impassioned believers inject their passions into politics. Such a liberal view (held not just by self-proclaimed liberals, but by many, even most, so-called “conservatives”) is based on the myth that politics is not religion. All politics is religion. All politics is either dedicated to the bloody sacrifice of other human beings, including babies in abortion mils, or to the bloodless sacrifice of the Eucharist of Christ in bread and wine as the means of establishing covenants that form kingdomcultural families, churches, nations and empires. All cities are established by sacrifice, but not all sacrifices are bloody. Christ’s shed blood puts an end to all blood sacrifice. The world can either accept this or continue down the path of bloodshed until it comes to the end of itself in the pigpen. To refuse the Church’s invitation to the Eucharist is inherently inhumane because it leaves individuals, society and the creation subject to bloodshed.
10. Visibly advancing public religious life “from above.” The Capital C Church rejects the notion that earthly public life is the only kind of public life there is, but instead holds that heavenly public life (that is, life lived out on earth whose source is “from above”) is true public life – life that is natural to the original nature of mankind as created in God’s image. The Fall warped man’s nature to feel that a public life that is “of this world” is preferable to one “from above.” The cure for this sick feeling is the Incarnation where mankind’s fallen human nature is publically restored in the person of Jesus Christ, making Him the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe. Adam’s fallen human nature is not the destiny of public life; Christ’s is. The Church does not promote the view that culture is religion externalized in the sense that religion is something internal and private until it spills out of itself into that which is allegedly not inherently religious in the political, social and economic spheres of life. Such a confused view of reality and religion is Gnosticism in a modern dress and does not square up with reality. Everything is inherently religious and everything religious is inherently public. Religion, from the start, is public and visible and never just individual and private. Baptism, for example, is always a social and public event, never merely an individual and private one. There are no purely individual and private actions performed anywhere, at anytime, by anyone, ever. To think otherwise is the myth of liberalism. Most political conservatives today are just a few steps behind their self-proclaimed liberal cousins in their devotion to this false liberal religious myth. All religion is public and social as is every action that any individual does in the deepest, darkest caves of their imaginations or bedrooms. Everything we do or think creates worlds. The saying that “no man is an island” means that no man is an island. To argue otherwise is irrational and a form of insanity that is wittingly or unwittingly blind to the fact that all thoughts and acts by individuals are public religious-cultural thoughts and acts. All religion is culture in visible mustard seed form and all culture is religion in visible mustard tree form. Religion is not something other than culture, but a particular mode of culture. Culture is not something other than religion, but a particular mode of religion. Baptism, for example, is a visible seed out of which discipled nations come, thus Jesus commands us to baptize nations. Likewise, every Eucharist is a mustard seed judgment of this world out of which the restoration of all things comes. To think that Baptism or the Eucharist can ever be performed in a private corner is a liberal fantasy, a certifiable form of insanity. When kids pull a blanket over their heads or shut their eyes and declare to all in earshot, “You can’t see me,” it’s cute. When adults cover-up their humanity with the fig leaves of liberalism and then hide themselves from the presence of God, it’s called the Fall.
Assembling as the Capital C Church
In all the distinctive ways that we as Basileians love and help others to belong in order to believe, cultivate colonies of heaven on earth, and create thin places between heaven and earth, we endeavor to do so only in ways that embody the truth of the following:
11. Forming outposts of the heavenly city. The Capital C Church affirms the reality that every expression of the Church is already an outpost of the heavenly city, and denies the idea that the heavenly city is only where believers shall dwell in the future.
12. Has her own institutions. The Capital C Church has institutions, but not institutions of the Fallen World System because the Church is an alternative world unto herself – a new world destined to become the actual world of all cultures, transforming them from darkness to light, not by erasing their uniqueness, but by enhancing it, freeing it and empowering it to be all that they are originally created to be.
13. Repenting of worldliness. The Capital C Church repents of the unfaithfulness and evils done in the name of the Church instead of caving into them as “normal.” Unfaithfulness and evil is not the inevitable result of the true faith but is foreign to it. Not all lordship is worldly lordship. It is heresy to say so. No all business is worldly business. It is heresy to say so. Not all politics is worldly politics. It is heresy to say so. Not all power exercised is the exercise of worldly power. It is heresy to say so. We are required to repent of any unfaithfulness and evil that we do in the world, not abdicate being priests and kings on the earth.
14. The home for all churches. The Capital C Church has churches, but is not just churches; she is more fundamentally the society in which churches have their home.
15. The use of nonprofits or NGOs. The Capital C Church is not what is known in the US as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization or what is called internationally a NGO (Non-Government Organization), although she may use nonprofit organizations or NGOs.
16. Has covenanted members, not voluntary associates. The Capital C Church has individual members covenanted together into a collective body that is supreme in scope and majesty, but she is not a voluntary association of individuals.
17. Uses associations, but is not an association. The Capital C Church may form and use associations, but she is not a voluntary association that either individuals or churches may join.
18. A communion that repudiates denominationalism. The Capital C Church is a communion who may have denominations like Old Covenant Israel had tribes, but repudiates denominationalism in which one expression (or “tribe” of the Church) attempts to assert mediatorial authority over other expressions of the Church.
19. Prodigals returning home in Christ. The Capital C Church is composed of prodigal sinners in Christ returning from the pigpen, not those in Adam who have become religious like the “older brother” who refused to celebrate at his own father’s feast given in honor of the return of his prodigal brother.
20. Monks who defeat the devil in the desert. The Capital C Church has monks who preserve and advance the City of God by going into the desert to track down and defeat the devil, not monks who flee from the city to the desert to avoid confronting and defeating evil.
21. A house of public life. The Capital C Church is a house where everything any individual does is recognized for what it actually is – public life, not a two story building where a first story of private life allegedly supports a second story of public life. The very concept of so-called “private life” is a modern liberal myth that is tragically embraced by many Christians, leading to a Gnostic mindset that justifies the hypocrisy of acting in the body (Monday through Saturday) in ways that are contrary to the Spirit (of Sunday).
22. Her city square is in heaven. The Capital C Church locates her earthly city square in heaven, making her city square neither worldly nor otherworldly.
23. Totus Christus. The Capital C Church is more than a human institution; she is a divine-human institution, totus Christus – Jesus the Head and His Body as one.
24. A new covenantal way of being human. The Capital C Church is not some kind of religious association, but a totally new covenantal way of being human, both individually and collectively. The Church embodies a restored and transformed covenantal way of ordering all life.
25. Establishing new colonies of heaven. The Capital C Church recognizes that today new colonies of heaven must be established because Christians cannot coast within Christian political and cultural systems since such systems, to whatever degree they may exist, need to be transformed by each generation for their generation.
Listening as the Capital C Church
In all the distinctive ways that we as Basileians follow the lectionary in rhythm with the Church Year, interpret the Word according to the Apostolic Rule of Faith, and observe our Constitution, we endeavor to do so only in ways that embody the truth of the following:
26. Advancing the imperial metanarrative of Christ. The Capital C Church rejects the liberal democratic notion that individuals need to be liberated from all tradition so that they can invent and live out whatever narratives they can possibly conceive. Instead, the Church empowers individuals to create narratives that are rooted in, reflective of and extend the imperial metanarrative of Christ. The Church rejects the idea that the liberal democratic ideal is not itself a metanarrative that covertly seeks to subordinate all other narratives to itself. The liberal idea rejects any story (other than its own story) that claims to be a metanarrative for the whole of society because it seeks to operate as a false church with its own metanarrative for society.
27. Advancing divine-human ideas in the safety of the council of many. The Capital C Church does not just propose ideas, but embodies a new world, a new city, a new atmosphere in which divine-human ideas may breathe and flourish in the safety of the council of many.
28. A community of people with common ideas. The Capital C Church is fundamentally people in community who hold certain ideas in common, not a club of people who merely hold to common ideas.
29. Her own software and operating system. The Capital C Church runs her own software on her own operating system, not on the Fallen World System’s operating system.
30. Embodied beliefs. The Capital C Church is a community who embodies beliefs, and therefore does not have a “belief system” that can be isolated from the Church, which is allegedly taught in the Bible, and whose tenants can be compared and contrasted with other belief systems like Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism or Secularism.
31. Story, rituals and ceremony. The Capital C Church seeks to replace the Fallen World System itself with her own story, rituals and ceremonies, not merely influence, shape or change the stories, rituals, ceremonies of the Fallen World System’s various cultures.
32. An embodied unique philosophy. The Capital C Church is a community that embodies an utterly unique form of philosophy, but is not fundamentally a club of philosophers.
33. Promoting a new context altogether. The Capital C Church does not seek to contextualize the gospel for the cultures of the Fallen World System because her categories for interpreting creation and history are the meta-language and meta-story she offers to the nations and peoples of the world for rightly re-classifying the world. The Church doesn’t reform the content of the languages and cultures of the world, but seeks something much more radical – the reframing of the entire context of all languages, peoples, tribes, nations and cultures of the world. The adoption of this new context will quite naturally precipitate the reshaping of the content of all language and story in a kingdomcultural manner.
34. A convergence approach to authority. The Capital C Church does not rank either the Scripture or the Sacraments or the Spirit over one another in any combination, but, recognizes each in convergence as having an equal but different kind of authority in revealing the Word.
35. Advancing cultural storytelling in worship. The Capital C Church advances her own culture through storytelling in liturgical worship as shaped by the seasons of the Church Year. All political authority pays homage to some ultimate authority through acts of worship. All political authority is sourced and sustained in acts of worship. Every civil society builds holy places, celebrates holydays and venerates a pantheon of holy people. The Church brings all of these conventions of civil society into submission to Christ in the Liturgy. Lack of submission to the Church’s metanarrative only speeds the death of the cultures of the Fallen World System after which they will then be raised again to life in the Kingdom of God.
Governing as the Capital C Church
In all the distinctive ways that we as Basileians welcome all whom Christ authorizes to come to the Table, make consensus decisions that bind and loose, and create wealth and tithe to fund the government of the Kingdom of God, we endeavor to do so only in ways that embody the truth of the following:
36. Not by power of might, but by the Spirit. The Capital C Church promotes her own empire, the Kingdom of God, by the Spirit, not in the same way that the kingdoms of the fallen world promote their empires, which is by power and might.
37. Embracing consensus, not coercion. The Capital C Church rejects coercion and embraces consensus in decision making because in bold humility truth can be inerrantly known by the fallible and finite.
38. Infant baptism as an expression of Kingdom citizenship. The Capital C Church issues kingdom passports in the form of baptismal certificates to infants because citizenship in the Kingdom of God is not ultimately a matter of human choice but ultimately of divine destiny that human choice either comes into alignment with or not. Thus the Church is not a voluntary society composed only of those who choose as adults to enter into membership.
39. Causing chivalric “confusion.” The Capital C Church is authorized by Christ to throw the cities of the world into “confusion” by calling all people to adopt customs that their particular societies, if not submitted to the Lordship of Christ, tend to deem “not lawful” for their citizens to “accept or to observe” (Acts 16:20-21). That said, she is not authorized to use coercive, overlording power to overthrow empires, but is to do so by the chivalric power of the cross.
40. Loving culture by enforcing ethical boundaries. The Capital C Church enforces divinely revealed ethical boundaries because she is culture-loving and culture-affirming. Without boundaries there would be no culture whatsoever, only chaos. Failure to enforce kingdomcultural boundaries is anti-culture.
41. Salvation is the Church. The Capital C Church does not promote the common view of salvation held by many Evangelicals today that salvation can happen outside of the Church – a view rooted in a 500-year Protestant reaction to the time when some claimed that the Church was the source of salvation available for purchase via indulgences. In truth, salvation is not something that individuals get either from the Church or outside of the Church. Salvation is the Church. Salvation is the restoration of all things in Christ and His Church to their divinely created purpose. All things include all individuals, all social relationships that form communities and all creational relationships that govern the very fabric of the cosmos itself. Salvation is not just individual, but also social and creational, making it cosmic, as is Christ and His Church.
42. Kingdomcultural Christendom embraced. The Capital C Church embraces kingdomcultural Christendom and rejects all forms of subcultural and countercultural Christianity. Kingdomcultural Christendom is authentic Christianity. All others are counterfeits.
Serving as the Capital C Church
In all the distinctive ways that we as Basileians offer hospitality to all already within the Church and those yet beyond the Church, advance the Kingdom through our vocational callings, and travel to the edges of established expressions of Christendom, we endeavor to do so only in ways that embody the truth of the following:
43. Advancing a professedly Christian civil order. The Capital C Church recognizes that her mission is to transform all things in the earthly city that have been ruined by evil into elements that shine like the sun in the heavenly city. Christendom is a professedly Christian civil order. The ancient Celtic Christian communities, for example, were professedly Christian civil orders. Professedly Christian civil orders are a fact. They have existed, they exist now and they will continue to exist in the ages to come. Therefore, Basileians seek to live out a kingdom way of life in the here and now, in the midst of others who do not share our vision of the world, not to evangelize their souls for heaven, but to restore and transform their bodies and cultural systems here on earth in resurrection power so that earth becomes just like heaven (Matt. 6:10). Discipled and resurrected bodies, not “evangelized” disembodied souls, are destined to populate the Empire of God.
44. Heavenizing Earth. The Capital C Church does not engage in earth-denying evangelism to get sinners to heaven, but in kingdomcultural evangelism that brings heaven to sinners on earth.
45. All are called. The Capital C Church sees all callings as equally from God and subject to the authority of Christ.
46. Chivalry qualifies rulers. The Capital C Church knows that the only way to govern in the city center is via the road that first leads outside the city to a hill of crucifixion that in turns leads to a tomb of resurrection that in turn leads to a mountain of ascension to the right hand of God. Chivalry is the preeminent qualification for all rulership exercised in the city square of the Holy City.
47. Transformation. The Capital C Church rejects the idea that transformation is an impact, affect, implication or influence of the gospel. Transformation is the gospel. Kingdomculture does not “influence” the cultures of the world, but transforms them to become the gloriously unique expressions each is originally designed to be as rooted in the common unity that all things share in Christ and His Church. Such transformation is not a blending of the parts into an undifferentiated whole, but an enhancement and celebration of diversity in unity in Christ. The gospel is a diverse city of individuals covenanted in a shared unity in Christ or it is not the gospel. There is no right living outside of the Church because all right living is covenantal. The covenant is made effectual at the Table. The Table is the life of the world. There is no other Table of life. There never has been or ever will be. All prodigals live off of the crumbs that fall from this Table until which time they return home to sit at the Table.
48. Community and mission of the Trinity. The Capital C Church is caught up by the Spirit into the community and mission of the Trinity, not the community and mission of any power that is of this world.
49. Settled community life. The Capital C Church does not promote as an end goal or purpose temporary, “flash mob” community experiences or moments of ecstasy, intimacy and programmatic activity, although the CHURCH may call individuals to genuine, settled community life through the use of such experiences. The liberal revolt against the kind of kingdomcultural ritual that creates rootedness shall pass away because it is a myth that anyone or any culture can perpetually reject true, reality-affirming ritual and survive. All revolts against reality burn themselves out in time, as we see happening today with modernism and postmodernism, both of which are two sides of the same liberal coin. Sacred symbols, sacred days, sacred people and sacred places are the stuff of permanent, settled life in contrast to cursed nomadic life. Even American secularists, for example, desiring rootedness rather than nomadism, honor the symbol of the American flag, celebrate national holydays, revere the founding fathers and make pilgrimages to national shines erected in places like Washington D.C. and Ground Zero.
50. Affirming right ritual. The Capital C Church rejects the notion that the transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant is a transition from ritual to non-ritual. The prophetic denouncement of empty, formulaic rituals is not the condemnation of ritual per se. Baptism and the Eucharist are the rituals of the new society, public ritual expressions of a new civil order. Ritual affirms that the inner and the outer are both part of one whole. There is no barrier between the inner and the outer dimensions of life, but an unrestricted flow back and forth between them. The “spiritual” part of life is not something that is bodiless. Life is embodied. We are our bodies. Thus kingdomcultural ritual doesn’t seek to escape the body, but has a different aim – to transform the old into the new both inwardly and outwardly. Ritual rightly understood and practiced doesn’t lock us up in the past, but releases our future, enabling us to journey over the horizon without fear. The transition in Scripture is not from ritual to no ritual, but from rituals of exclusion to rituals of inclusion that transform the old into the new, reintegrating what has become disintegrated. Sacraments are not “miracles” that break the laws of God and therefore represent something completely other than life in the world; sacraments are for the life of the world precisely because they are extraordinarily natural in contrast to ordinarily natural. Bodily reintegration of what death has disintegrated is extraordinary and natural. It is death that is unnatural. The highest order of the extraordinarily natural is the city. The celebration of the Eucharist liturgically displays the architecture of the City of God as a microcosm of a new world. The Table is the new social order that overturns all other social orders built according to the traditions of men – traditions that include and exalt some while excluding and diminishing others.
51. Rejection of the doctrine of permanent exile. The Capital C Church does not worship a god of permanent exile, but of the exodus from Egypt, of the return from Babylon and of the resurrection from the dead.
An Application to Basileia
Two distinctive expressions of Basileia are 1) a Fellowship or an Abbey and 2) a Vocational Society. How do we relate these two distinctive expressions together so that they give expression to the Capital C Church rather than diminish it?
The challenge and opportunity here is in unifying the distinct contributions between the inward focused “local church” (of a Fellowship or of an Abbey) and the outward focused “mission church” (of a Vocational Society). But this very terminology of “local church” and “mission church” is largely Protestant in origin and is itself part of the problem because it perpetuates a false dichotomy between these inward and outward expressions of the Church – a dichotomy that no amount of organizational genius is organically able to reintegrate.
The challenge of organically relating the “local church” and “mission church” in such a manner that together they function as the Capital C Church is not unique to Basileia. It’s a challenge that any expression of the Church faces, but that Protestants face in a special way. While it’s simplistic to say that this is a uniquely Protestant problem, it is Protestants who typically are the best source material for illustrating it. Protestants have created a myriad of parachurch ministries and organizations that often depend on people and money from the “local church.” When money is in short supply from the “local church,” parachurch organizations often appeal directly to private donors who in turn are often businessmen already advancing the Kingdom through their marketplace activity in ways that the “local church” isn’t doing. Therefore, they are able to see the value of certain parachurch ministries and so become their benefactors.
An interesting develop within Protestantism is the mega church, with its tens of thousands of members and multi-million dollar budgets where numerous “parachurch” type missional initiatives are directly created from within or, if already existing, sometimes brought into the fold from without, sponsored and funded under the umbrella and control of a head pastor who is often recognized as an “apostolically” gifted leader. Some mega-mega churches in turn become centers of gravity around which global associations of churches revolve. But to Roman Catholics, this in many ways is nothing new. The largest mega church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, for example, is not a Protestant mega church, but the Roman Catholic Diocese of Colorado Springs that serves 161,770 Catholics in 42 parishes and missions under the direction of an “apostolic” leader called a Bishop. Note here the words “parishes” and “missions.” This is what in Protestant-speak is called “local churches” and parachurch “mission organizations.” In a diocese, both parishes and missions are expressions of the greater whole that comprises the Church. Protestants are latecomers to the mega church concept, which no doubt, not only Roman Catholics, but also the hundreds of millions of Orthodox Christians and tens of millions of Anglican Christians would not disagree with.
What makes the challenge of relating the “local church” and the “mission church” inescapable is the ministerial tension of the Church being in relationship to itself and the Church being in relationship to the fallen world, both at the same time. Basileia’s Vocational Societies are our way of being the Church in relationship to the fallen world. In contrast, an Abbey, for example, is geared more to being the Church in relationship to the Church. How do we relate to both worlds at once in a unified way? A Vocational Society is “on the edges” serving as a bridge between the Abbey-Fellowship dimension at the center of a Basileia Community and what is beyond the boundaries of the Community governmentally speaking, namely, the Fallen World System. At the edge of a Basileia Community can be found Initiatives, sponsored by a Community's Abbeys, Fellowships and Chapters. Beyond this boundary edge is the Fallen World System that we that we invite people to crossover from in order to enter the new world of the Kingdom of God within the boundaries of our Communities. We expect many, even most of of those who are active with our various Initiatives to be unbelievers. And obviously, Adult Communicant Members of Abbeys, Fellowships and Chapters will have a more developed way of relating to the Church. The challenge is how to keep these two expressions of the Church––one more in the center and the other more on edges––functioning together organically as the Capital C Church.
The ditch we could easily fall into here is that of regarding the Abbey-Fellowship nexus as the “local church” and our Initiatives in general or our Vocational Societies in particular as the “mission church,” where these two expressions of the Church operate in parallel organizationally but are never really in unity organically. This inevitably will lead to each becoming increasingly independent and competitive instead of being interdependent and complementary. Respecting their distinctions, in Basileia, in what way structurally, not just theoretically or ideally, are these two modes of the Church one? The answer is really quite simple, organizationally speaking: We integrate these two complementary expressions of the Church as one in the governing roles played by the various Councils of a Basileia Community.
Of course, all of this is nothing more than moving deck chairs around on the Titanic if we’re not constantly working at embodying the above 51 characteristics that illustrate what it means to be the Capital C Church. Keeping that in mind, let’s continue to make application of the theory to practice, illustrated by the structural way we don't even begin to go down the "mission church" "local church" path, resulting in chronic problems that can never be fixed.
For Basileia, it is in our Basileia Communities that the vision of the Church as an Ecclesial City is made practical and actual. The nature of the covenant is the underlying assumption in all this. Covenantal unity is not just organizational, but first and fundamentally organic. In Christ, when the two become one, the two don’t stop being two, but a third, collective person is brought into being. Collective persons are not merely organizational entities, but organically and fully human in a collective sense. Collective persons and individual persons in covenantal union are interdependent and complementary.
While it is true that a Chapter has simultaneous “organizational” membership in a Fellowship or an Abbey and in its respective Vocational Society, it first and most fundamentally has an organic, covenantal membership in a Basileia Community. A Community’s various Councils are composed of the Presiding Members of the Councils of Fellowships, Abbeys and Chapters. While the “mission church” functions of a Chapter are different from the “local church” functions of Fellowships and Abbeys, Chapters are equally members of a Basileia Community. In the Community’s governing councils everyone takes off his or her “local hat” to put on a “Community hat” where they stand side by side to govern the broader jurisdiction of a Basileia Community.
Chapters are not just organizational members simultaneously of both a Fellowship or an Abbey and a Vocational Society; they are first and fundamentally covenanted, organic members of a Basileia Community. Thus, in Basileia, we don’t refer to Fellowships or Abbeys as “local churches.” The only Local Church in Basileia is a Basileia Community. No true expression of the Local Church can be less than the City of God, otherwise it’s captivity in Babylon all over again.
Because Basileia is an episcopally governed expression of the Church, to be true to what that means, we cannot even begin to think of Fellowships or Abbeys as the “local church.” To do so immediately then forces our more missional expressions (i.e., Chapters and their respective Vocational Societies) into being regarded as something different than the “Local Church.” Thus in Basileia, we speak of a Basileia Community as the Local Church in the same way that most classical expressions of the Church call a diocese the Local Church. Our preference for using the term Community instead of diocese is reflective of our more Celtic approach to the administration of episcopal authority.
Thus, for Basileia the idea of the Local Church corresponds, not to Fellowships, but to what we envision as an Ecclesial City, namely, a Basileia Community. What is first true about a Chapter is not the fact it has a unique kind of simultaneous membership that overlaps with both “local church” and “missional church” expressions of the Church, but that it is first a member of the Ecclesial City governed by the Community’s various Councils. True to our nature as a communion we emphasize first what these jurisdictions have in common rather than how they are distinct. The opportunity afforded to us by Chapters is that it enables us to deal with the monster of denominationalism within Basileia before it ever gets up a head of steam to denominate us, or the Church at-large.
Beyond how this applies to Chapters, this vision of the Church as an Ecclesial City is essential for maintaining a practical, working approach to the Church that prevents its reduction to a holy club or clubs of “local churches” and “mission church” expressions within someone else’s society. Without the vision of the Ecclesial City made practical in our Communities, all we will have from the start is the “local church” (in the non-ecclesial city sense) operating independently and in competition with the “missional church”(in the non-ecclesial city sense). This leaves the Church captive in a fractured state in Babylon. The Ecclesial City, the New Jerusalem, is the Missional Local Church (i.e., the Capital C Church) with one nature expressed in a diversity of members. Practically, this is why the fundamental building block of Basileia is a Basileia Community where the various Councils of the Community govern an Ecclesial City––the City see as the Missional Local Church with a diversity of members all of whom are equally true expressions of the Church. While an Abbey may relate Adult Communicant Members of the Church to the Church in more intensive ways (such as in Baptism and celebrating the Eucharist) than what people experience in Missional Initiatives, Abbeys are nevertheless no less missional than a Chapter that operates on the edges of the Community out under “the Oak Tree.” The whole Church is essentially "missional" and "local" at the same time.
So we accept the unique challenges of how to conceive of and structure the membership relationships of Chapters. We choose to proactively meet these challenges with the apostolic vision of forming Ecclesial Cities as colonies of heaven on earth in an application of episcopal authority to a kingdomcultural ecclesiology for the 21st century. Poetically speaking, this is “The Abbey and the Oak Tree,” and prosaically speaking, this is the “Capital C Church.”