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About the Author

David E. Fitch (PhD, Northwestern University) is the B. R. Lindner Chair of Evangelical Theology at Northern Seminary. He is also the founding pastor of Life on the Vine Christian Community (Long Grove, Illinois) and copastor of Peace of Christ Church (Westmont, Illinois). David is the author of mostrar mais The Great Giveaway and the coauthor of Prodigal Christianity. mostrar menos

Obras por David E. Fitch


Conhecimento Comum

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David E. Fitch
Pastor, Professor



Best book on unity in disagreement and how to live life with our fellow brothers and sisters in the body of Christ I've ever seen.
JourneyPC | 1 outra crítica | Sep 26, 2022 |
Summary: Discusses the roots of a church of us versus them and proposes a vision of the church as a space beyond making enemies.

Even though there are serious signs that American churches are experiencing significant losses of numbers and cultural influence, Christians are hanging onto habits of a posture of "us versus them" developed during a time of greater cultural ascendancy. So contends pastor David E. Fitch, who believes it is a matter of urgent concern that the church move to a space beyond us versus them to one that refuses to make enemies.

Fitch explores the factors that contribute to enemy making. He observes how distinctives of belief and behavior can develop a life of their own becoming the litmus test of who is one of "us" and who is one of "them." Eventually the distinctives can become banners, often devoid of the content that originally shaped them, but that defines the divide between friends and enemies. Often, these divides both feed on fear and make us feel better about ourselves.

Fitch explores three distinctive banners of evangelical faith. One is the banner of the "inerrant Bible" and the idea of being a "biblical" Christian, language invoked for whatever position one wishes to uphold with a smattering of scripture. This language is used in a way that exercises power over, and excludes people. Fitch proposes instead that when we move to a space beyond making enemies, the Bible is the story of the Grand Drama of God. We do not use the Bible to win arguments and fight for a "position" but to hear and extend an invitation for all to enter into that Great Drama. We do not assume we possess "inerrant truth" but continue to listen humbly to each other as we search the text of scripture to understand our part in the drama.

The second distinctive banner is that of "the decision." Perhaps nothing better defines who is "in" and who is "out" than the "decision" for Christ. Sadly, so many of those who wave this banner fail to go on to a life of vibrant discipleship following Jesus, and often have no difficulty justifying the compatibility of immoral behavior with being "saved" because they have made "the decision." Instead Fitch argues for a vision of conversion beyond us versus them, as participation over a lifetime in a faithful life of repentance and surrender to Christ, characterized both by forgiveness and personal holiness, and a commitment to extending Christ's healing and salvation into every aspect of the world's need. While such a conversion doesn't make enemies in its invitation to all to follow Christ, it exposes those who make themselves the enemies of Christ by refusing his gracious rule.

The third banner is the church that seeks to make America Christian again and seeks to do so aligned with the politics of the right (Jerry Falwell) or the left (Jim Wallis). Instead, he contends for the church as its own political structure, "a demonstration plot of the Kingdom." Fitch writes:

All this means that the difference between Christians and the world is not a spatial one, it's an eschatological one. It's not an us-vs-them difference. It's a matter of timing. There are not two spaces: the space of the ones who are "in" and the ones who are "out." Rather, the church is already where the world is heading; the world just doesn't know it yet. We are living in the kingdom ahead of time. We are the first fruits of a harvest that shall be fully gathered in the future. We are against no one. Despite appearances, the world is not our enemy. We are just ahead of them. The church is the space beyond enemies, the church beyond us vs. them.

He closes by talking about the way Jesus addressed controversy by confounding the enemy-making tendency of people, supremely demonstrated with the woman caught in adultery. Jesus responds in silence, writing in the sand, and then bids those without sin to go ahead and stone her. He refuses to condemn her and restores her while extending the true sense of the law into her life as he pronounces her both forgiven and urges her to no longer choose sin in her life. He then asks if we will be the presence of Jesus in the world in how we engage the Bible, how we practice conversion and mission, and how we live as the church in the world.

I'm not sure if Fitch explains to my satisfaction why we feel so compelled to make enemies, which is not merely a Christian but rather a human behavior. What he does do well is explain the dynamics of how this has worked itself out among evangelical Christians. He also offers a compelling vision of a space beyond us versus them, not a space of compromise, but something different altogether, caught up in God's Grand Drama. I suspect there are some still enamored of fighting battles against "them" and seeing the world in terms of friends and enemies (and we can never be quite sure of our friends). But I also suspect that there others who are tired of "othering" both inside and outside the church. They want to choose love rather than fear; the open arms of embrace rather than the closed fists of a fight. For these, Fitch offers a vision of the church as a place where that can begin to happen.


Disclosure of Material Connection: Thanks, Brazos Press, for the chance to read an advanced reading copy of this forthcoming book. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
… (mais)
BobonBooks | 1 outra crítica | Jul 31, 2019 |
A ecclesiastical reflection on the author's experience in ministry exhorting more holistic service and faithfulness to Christ in a space between missional and incarnational: faithful presence in the Kingdom.

The author sets forth seven disciplines for faithful presence (the Lord's table, reconciliation, proclaiming the Gospel, being with the "least of these", being with children, the fivefold gifting, and Kingdom prayer), and describes them in terms of presence within the "closed circle" of the dedicated members of a local congregation, the "half dotted circle" of the local church members, regular visitors, and people who express interest in faith, and also the "open circle," the greater community at large.

The author does well at demonstrating the importance of all three aspects of ministry and presence so that the work may thrive: to focus only on the closed circle is to turn to maintenance mode, but focusing only on the open circle is to lead to exhaustion and abandonment of the Gospel to become a social service organization. The "half dotted circle" becomes a very important place in that regard.

Many good things about each subject, and some points of disagreement, as always. The section on the "least of these" is very powerful, and does well to overturn the paternalistic and systemic model of benevolence on its head, emphasizing instead community and sharing and joint participation in ways that empower all involved. Kingdom prayer, especially as contrasted with constant striving, is all important. The fivefold gifting is an interesting way of taking the first century situation and bringing it to the twenty-first without necessarily becoming charismatic, although in so doing there is some disconnect from the original use of some of the terms. Being with children is rather convicting; evangelism models are very fit for 21st century life, since they focus on presence and relationship, the embodiment of the message as opposed to rhetorical flourish. Don't sleep on the appendices either, especially 3 (warning about the extremes of missiology and incarnation) and 4 (looking at the "least of these" as all the poor, but seeing Christ's presence in their midst as the work the Christians did by bringing the Kingdom to bear on their condition).

Highly recommended.

**original galley received as part of early review program
… (mais)
deusvitae | 2 outras críticas | Jan 18, 2019 |
Summary: Expands upon the idea of “faithful presence,” exploring how this may be practiced by the church in fulfillment of her mission through seven foundational disciplines practiced in three different settings or “circles.”

In 2010, sociologist James Davison Hunter penned a probing critique of evangelicalism’s “change the world” rhetoric in To Change the World (reviewed at rel="nofollow" target="_top">, and proposed as an alternative, the idea of the subversive practice of “faithful presence.” David E. Fitch, co-pastor of Peace of Christ Church in Westmont, Illinois, takes up this idea contending that Hunter ran out of space in his book in fleshing out “what the actual practice of faithful presence might look like.” He contends that without a new kind of formational practice in the church (in truth harking back to our beginnings), attempts at faithful presence on the part of individual Christians will simply be absorbed by the broader culture. He writes:

“Faithful presence, I contend, must be a communal reality before it can infect the world. It must take shape as a whole way of life in a people. From this social space we infect the world for change. Here we give witness to the kingdom breaking in and invite the world to join in. For this to happen, however, we need a set of disciplines that shape Christians into such communities in the world” (p, 15).

In this book, Fitch commends seven disciplines that the churches he has pastored have practiced. He proposes that each of these disciplines presuppose the presence of God already in our lives and that our faithful presence, fostered through these disciplines, is the visible expression of God’s faithful presence going before us. He argues that these are disciplines that make faithful presence possible in our churches, neighborhoods and the wider society. He also contends that a key idea undergirding the practice of these disciplines is submission, to Christ and to one another, and that this is what makes these so counter-cultural.

The seven disciplines (he also calls them marks or sacraments) are: the Lord’s Table, reconciliation, proclaiming the gospel, being with “the least of these,” being with children, the fivefold ministry, and kingdom prayer. Fitch devotes a chapter in the book to each of these. He also proposes three circles in which each of these disciplines must be lived out: the close circle of the Christian community, the dotted circle of home and neighborhood, where Christians function as hosts, and the half-circle of wider society, where we are guests, but may also be the faithful presence of Christ. Faithful presence that advances the mission of the church operates in all three circles, not simply in the close circle, leading to a maintenance mentality, or in the half circle, leading to exhaustion.

I appreciate the effort of Fitch to expand this idea of “faithful” presence, because I also found Hunter’s proposal thin on specifics, and lacking in articulating the practices that sustain such presence and allow it to take a robust and transformative public form. I thought Fitch had some distinctive things to say about gospel proclamation, as opposed to teaching, in the context of the church, about the ministry of presence with children, and about the fivefold ministry (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers), contending for plural ministry leadership as opposed to hierarchical leadership in the church. I would like to have seen Fitch say more about the ministry of prophets, which was not elaborated.

Fitch also argues that through church history, the seven disciplines, meant to be personal, relational, and practiced in all the “circles” of life, have been institutionalized, formalized, and programmed. His proposal and practice breaks these strictures. Nowhere is this more evident than in his discussion of the Lord’s table, which is not only practiced weekly in his church but constantly in the lives of its people:

“The Lord’s table happens every time we share a meal together with people and tend to the presence of Christ among us. Granted the formal Lord’s table only happens at the close table. But that table extends from there. When Jesus said, “Whenever you do this, do it in remembrance of me: (1 Cor 11:24-26, my paraphrase), he, in essence meant, in the words of theologian John Howard Yoder, “whenever you have your common meal,” whenever you eat in everyday life with people. And yet this table is shaped differently in the three spaces I call the close, dotted, and half circles of life. The table is never merely in here or out there. It is the continual lived space with and among the world. It is the table on the move. It starts with the close circle, the ground zero of his presence around the table” (p. 64).

This work is also important in how it connects our communal disciplines to mission, and particularly the working out of the practice of these disciplines in the “dotted” circle, and the “half” circle. It is a valuable resource, not only for the training of ministers, but for leaders of churches to read and discuss together as they think about the nature of the church, and the formative practices that shape the lives of its members. Throughout, Fitch couples biblical principles and practical examples, many from his own practice. In an era increasingly disenchanted with posturing and programs, this vision of faithful presence may be the cup of cold water desperately longed for in our cultural wasteland.… (mais)
BobonBooks | 2 outras críticas | Nov 26, 2017 |

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