Be My Witnesses

Be My Witnesses: The Church's Mission, Message, and Messengers

Darrell L. Guder, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1985, 236 pages, $10.95, paper.

Reviewed by Dr. DeWitt S. Williams, associate director, Health and Temperance Department, General Conference.

The author of Be My Witnesses has served as college administrator, pastor, and professor in the United States and Europe. From this broad experience he brings us an image of the church as a blemished and disappointing movement, but one that God is not finished with yet. It can still reveal who Christ is and what He does. Scripture is the written witness, and human beings His visible witnesses.

The saints who make up the church within the grand sweep of salvation history are agents by whom the message of God's reconciling actions will be made known to the world. At Pentecost His church was empowered, and is still empowered, to carry out its assigned mission. This is in spite of the vast institutions of today, characterized by their familiar drawbacks: complexity, bureaucracy, power brokering, politics, resistance to change, commitment to status quo, etc.

Guder points out that the church should be more like the tabernacle than the temple of the old covenant. The temple is unmovable, a center for religious activity. It tends to be an end in itself, a massive, expensive, complex institution whose commitment is to its own continuation. Tabernacles, however, are unique as an expression of faith. The tent of the old covenant was not permanent, but moved with the people wherever they followed God's leading into new territory. The tabernacle constantly focused people upon God's actions, His presence in their midst, His will and direction.

Emphasizing the church's need to be in the world but not of the world, Guder looks at that strategic comma (Eph. 4:11, 12). The comma indicates that the organizational chart of the church should be an inverted pyramid, with the broader section at the top representing members, while the specialized ministers should be servants of the servants of God. The hope, too, is that members will come to understand themselves, not as consumers of religious services, but as partners in ministry.

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Reviewed by Dr. DeWitt S. Williams, associate director, Health and Temperance Department, General Conference.

February 1988

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