Decentralization

Decentralization

One of the most predominant themes in the book of Acts in the New Testament is the decentralization of religion. What upset the religious leaders so much about Peter's speech on Pentecost was how the good news was for all people everywhere. It was the first major decentralizing speech since Jesus. Of course, it is totally in the spirit of Jesus who began this decentralizing movement. Peter's speech was accompanied by tongues, which is meant to symbolize the universal nature of the message. The same thing was upsetting about Stephen's speech. Like Peter, throughout his speech he draws attention to the fact that the home of this good news now in fact was rejecting it as it always had. Stephen says the ramifications were now that the good news was a global message. It was no longer and insular and centralized one. This speech cost Stephen his life… which only accelerated the decentralization. Paul also, in a dramatic decision to go to the Gentiles, symbolized by shaking the dust off his feet that the message had been rejected by its home and that it was now extending beyond the gates to the whole world. It had become a universal and global message. The whole world was God's and everything in it. Paul never looked back, finally residing in Rome, the total opposite of Jerusalem. The earliest church sent representatives to investigate evidence of the Spirit's work in other regions. This alarming revelation… that the Spirit was at work in completely foreign settings… was disturbing to the authorities. This eventually lead to the first church council where it was decided by certain standards who was officially in and who was officially out. Was this the beginning of the church's attempt to regain control, to secure itself as the message's home, and to preserve centralization? Had the church so early begun to fall into the same grave error that had necessitated its birth in the first place? My above drawing is called "Misty Moon".

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