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Crippled by Bureaucracy?

A Review of
Doomed Edifice:
The Eclipse of the Prophetic Ministry And
The Spiritual Captivity of the Church
by P.W. Baker.

Reviewed by Chris Smith.


Doomed Edifice:
The Eclipse of the Prophetic Ministry And
The Spiritual Captivity of the Church
P.W. Baker.

Paperback: Wipf and Stock, 2010.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]

DOOMED EDIFICE - PW BakerThe new book, Doomed Edifice: The Eclipse of the Prophetic Ministry and the Spiritual Captivity of the Church by P.W. Baker piqued my interest with its promise of reflection on early Church history from a viewpoint influenced by the late social critic  Ivan Illich (click here for a delightful introduction to Illich’s life and work).  Baker is primarily interested here with the institutionalization of the Church: “the fruit of the human attempt to remedy what is considered imperfect or vulnerable… Christians [thus] chose predictable order, rule and authority instead of the spontaneous, convivial and organic” (123).  The power structures of the Church therefore came to overshadow shadow what Baker refers to as the “prophetic ministry”, a role he traces back to the nation of Israel in the Old Testament era.  Prophecy, Baker notes was the role of providing divine guidance to the people of  God.  He emphasizes that prophecy was balanced by the crucial work of discernment, a responsibility he argues that rested squarely on the local church congregation as a  whole, and not on “any single individual or to any select group of spiritual leaders” (21).

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