This is a book we are examining in Church Renewal Class…
Written by T. Scott Daniels, the senior pastor of First Church of the Nazarene in Pasadena, California, it takes the seven mini-epistles from Christ to the churches in Asia and applies them as a method of peering into the causes of congregational dysfunction.
For this letter, his focus is on this passage – the what they did right and what they did wrong:
“I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars.You have patiently suffered for me without quitting.
“But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! (Rev 2:2-4 NLT)
The Ephesians had orthodoxy (although, admittedly, while Revelation was written sometime around 96 according to most, there was really a flexible orthodoxy, more so than today) but they had lost the love of one another. Daniels quotes, Barclay,
It may be that a hard, censorious, critical, fault-finding, stern self-righteousness had banished the spirit of love… Strict orthodoxy can cost too much, if it has to be bought at the price of love. (p39)
Daniels further notes…
Few if any of us who are believers accepted Christ into our lives because we were doctrinally argued into the Church. It was the love of God demonstrated in the life of the Spirit-filled body of Christ that wooed us into relationship with the Father….(p40)
…. However, there is something in letter from the Revelator that desires the Church in Ephesus to place orthopraxy (rightly living out the faith) or orthopathy (having the right heart or spirit) above orthodoxy (mentally assenting to correct doctrine as cognitive propositions). (p42)
I believe that he is partially correct here – that doctrine is not what draws us to Christ so much as was explains us that call and the life led thereafter. I have a problem with his apparent lack of focus; instead of maintaining orthodoxy, he is in favor of practice and love as a measure of unity. I mean, what’s that all about?