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    Plough Quarterly No.14: Re-Formation

    Autumn 2017

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    Featured Articles

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    From the Editor

    The Church We Need Now If the Reformation was a battle for the soul of Christianity, then a small group of radicals spurned by both sides may prove to be the real winners…

    Essays

    The Spirit of Early Christianity The catastrophe of the final battle must be provoked, for Satan with all his demonic powers can be driven out in no other way. Jesus’ death on the cross is the decisive act. The Two Ways To whom do we give our loyalty? The early Christians teach us that the choice changes everything. Time for a New Reformation Five hundred years on, is the Protestant Reformation giving way to another tectonic shift in what it means to be church? The Unplanned Church The early church survived by keeping its eyes on the promise and living by hope – and we can do the same today. Re-Forming the Church A constantly re-forming Church is a Church always seeking the face of the Lord. Friendship with Jesus Christ is not only the beginning of the Church, but also the beginning of all authentic reform in the Church.

    Reading

    From the Didache There are two ways, one of life and one of death, and there is a great difference between these two ways. The Church That Grew without Trying Christianity grew despite the opposition of laws and social convention, and its growth was not organized – it simply happened. The Last of the First Christians The ancient Christian communities within Iraq and Syria, decimated by the Islamic State, are on the brink of extinction. Andreas Knapp, author of The Last Christians, has been working among the uprooted survivors and recording their stories.

    Poetry

    Poem: Parable Here in the suburbs we are annoyed/ when the neighbors decide to raise/ chickens, build a coop and rise each/ day to crows and the promise of eggs.

    Editors’ Picks

    Editors’ Picks Issue 14 Plough editors share some must reads: Issue 14 features the life of poet Czeslaw Milosz, the realities of a British farming community, growing up in America, and the mysterious growth of the early church.

    Family and Friends

    El Arado Nicaragua Since 2015, the Nicaragua team has given out more than sixteen thousand books, each of which is hand-delivered to a selected school or church. Donuts for Books Using proceeds from donuts and ice cream they make and sell, members of Living Water Mennonite Church buy discounted Plough books to give away free. Beethoven in Sing Sing Discover Musicambia, an intensive education program that rehabilitates inmates and transforms lives through music, both performance and composition.

    Another View

    Blue Angel In his paintings, Dean Mitchell tries to “elevate the underprivileged so I can convey a sense of their dignity and give them a voice in American society.”

    Comic

    The Renegade Monk Martin Luther would be proud. What better format than the graphic novel to tell the dramatic and complex story of the young monk who defied the most powerful institutions of his day?

    Forum

    Readers Respond: Issue 14 Letters from the latest issue of Plough: on Joe Strummer, the Benedict Option, contemplation and curiosity, and the legacy of Johann Christoph Arnold.

    Portfolio

    The Church Is Not Made of Cathedrals Now exiled from Syria, Father Jacques has continued his ministry in Iraqi Kurdistan. A former detainee and a refugee among refugees, his testimony creates a closeness, his strength and peace preaches comfort.

    Forerunners

    Forerunners: Polycarp Worldwide, three hundred and twenty-two Christians die for their faith every month, according to the group Open Doors. Their courage mirrors the faith-filled witness of early Christian martyrs such as Polycarp.

    Featured Authors

    front cover of Plough Quarterly Autumn 2017

    About This Issue

    This year’s five-hundredth anniversary of the Reformation comes just as Christianity is undergoing what may prove to be its biggest recalibration since the fourth century. Christendom, the system in which Christianity shaped Western laws and society as the majority religion, has been shaky since the Enlightenment. Now it’s in its death throes, felled by secularization, consumerism, and the sexual revolution. For better or worse, Christians must learn to be a minority. There’s no better time than now to recall Karl Barth’s dictum: the church must always be reformed. What is the re-formed church we need now?

    In this issue, George Weigel and Eberhard Arnold call the church to turn back to its sources and to seek renewal in the example of the first Christians, for whom Christianity was not just a Sunday religion or a private affair. It meant belonging to the fellowship of disciples, whose way of life was countercultural to that of the surrounding pagan society, as Rowan Williams points out. Today, Christians of all traditions are realizing that we are again called, in the words of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, to form a creative minority. Pastors Jin Kim and Claudio Oliver explore how to practice communal Christianity in different contexts, and Andreas Knapp and Cécile Massie document the vibrancy of the persecuted church in Syria and Turkey. Editor Peter Mommsen explores the legacy and triumph of the Radical Reformation.