By Adeyemo Temidayo
My response to Richard Jacobsen’s question on the Unchurching Facebook group about Henry’s book.
A few days ago, author of Unchurching, Richard Jacobsen, asked members of his Unchurching Facebook community for their comments on Henry Hon’s book: ONE, Unfolding God’s Eternal Purpose From House to House. I had a leading to share my thoughts, at the end of which, I felt it will be good to put it out as a blog. Even though I’ve done my review some months back, hey, no harm in a second review, right? So, please enjoy my comment:
I have read it almost to the last chapter and I agree it's almost like a textbook. It will take some determination to stay with it to the end. But it is definitely worth reading. I think Henry Hon, deeply burdened by need for unity as prayed by the Lord, must have taken a hard look at the condition of church today and wondered how, practically speaking, this oneness can be achieved.
First of all, he draws inspiration from John 17 where Jesus mentions 3 items in connection with believers being one. We all have read that chapter severally but just didn't notice them. These items are: Eternal Life (the Father's name, vs. 11); Truth (His word, vs. 14-17) and Glory (vs. 22). Henry believes that if we can embrace the reality of these gifts and practically walk in them, this oneness will be manifested. So, much of the book centers round explaining these three items.
That’s at the theological level. Practically, he then gives what I consider a radical recommendation: those of us outside the Institutional Church bracket should see the IC’s as ministries of the ministers – just like Paul had a ministry, so did Apollos, Barnabas and a host of others. He makes it clear that these ministries ARE NOT the Ekklesia and should exist rather to build up the Ekklesia. As long as they admit to this and are building up the Ekklesia, then they are serving their function and there would be no conflict between being part of a local expression of the Ekklesia and at the same time remaining in the IC. Where a problem arises, according to Henry, is when the minister in the IC is unwilling to encourage their members to go and be part of the Ekklesia. Then such a minister is divisive and should be marked out.
My quick reflection on that point is that Henry, perhaps, is the only man that I know in about 400 years (probably more) who attempts to create some middle ground between the non-institutional (organic) church setting and the ICs. Up till now, these two have been in arms against each other. While that is noble, one indeed thinks about its practicality. We can only know when we are willing to experiment.
Going further, Henry says if the IC’s are not the Ekklesia, where then is she? In the homes of the saints. This leads to the second practical recommendation, which is very big in Henry’s vision of arriving at oneness: the concept of greeting, taken from Rom. 16. Again, we’ve read that chapter so many times but have taken it to be just general or final greetings of Paul. But Henry says it’s far much more and much bigger than that. He says it is as the saints go greet (visit and share Christ with) one another in the environment of their homes that the Ekklesia is actually revealed and that oneness is manifested. While Henry is in support of setting up “organic churches”, he is of the view that if these groups do not intentionally engage in the concept of greeting one another, they themselves would in the long run become a rigid self-serving group none different from the IC. I think this position was informed by his experience in the “Local Church” which started with a great vision but is now more or less another denomination.
Summarily, I believe those of us who truly understand the magnitude and gravity of the oneness of believers in the Lord’s agenda will see Henry’s ideas as something worth trying. I encourage everyone to give the book a shot with an open mind.