Was the church Jesus' idea? From huge edifices to humble storefronts, from high church Anglicans to exuberant Pentecostals, from the Middle East to Asia to Africa - can this all be the church, so varied and far flung?
From his roots in Africa, David Zac Niringiye takes us on the journey of a pilgrim people, helping us to appreciate what the church is at all times and in all places. This introduction provides a biblical theology that tells the story of the people and promise of God through Moses, of the kingdom of God in Christ, and work of his people by the Holy Spirit. Being people on a journey means we are strangers and foreigners, yet also a people with a purpose, with a mission. We are a people who live in hope, looking forward to the justice, peace and joy God has planned.
David Zac Niringiye (PhD, Edinburgh) is the retired assistant bishop of the diocese of Kampala, Church of Uganda. Currently a fellow in the Faculty of Social Sciences at Uganda Christian University, he has a distinguished career as a theologian, mission leader, pastor, HIV and AIDS activist, and organizational development consultant. Called "the foremost evangelical Christian thinker/theologian today," Niringiye teaches at churches and conferences in Africa, Europe and North American while continuing his work of peace and social-political justice in Uganda. Niringiye is married to Theodora, a marriage, family, trauma and HIV/AIDS counselor. Together they have three children.
Every journey I have taken with Bishop Zac has been both challenging and life-giving. This book is no exception. Like a knowledgeable safari guide, Bishop Zac points out the highs and lows as he takes us on an extraordinary biblical journey through what it means to be the community of God's people - from creation to new creation. Godly discontent over the mismatch he has seen between much contemporary church and the biblical vision of a community of faith, hope and love drives Bishop Zac to ask us to take stock of our part of the community of God. To be read carefully, prayerfully and humbly by all who profess Christ's name, wherever they are in the world, so that the community of God may reveal Christ to the world, not hide Christ from the world.
bishop of Basingstoke, UK
Congratulations to David Zac! This is a brilliant piece of work. The subject is timely, coming at a time when the church is expanding rapidly, yet declining and disintegrating with equal speed. David Zac has captured both the rise and fall of God's community in a technical yet easily readable manner. The Church is theologically sound, historically accurate, but more importantly, culturally relevant for the church's new center of gravity - Africa. What comes out clearly is that the church is, as David Zac puts it, a community in the Spirit, a dwelling of God in God! No gates of hell can prevail against it. If you are interested in the development of the church, this is a great read. If you care little about the church, here is a must read.
presiding bishop, Christ Is the Answer Ministries (CITAM), Nairobi, Kenya
David Zac Niringiye is for me a modern hero of the faith. He has been so helpful to our community of hundreds of students and all nations and ages at the heart of Oxford. When he gave up his role of bishop to work for the cause of justice in Uganda and beyond, some feared he might forget the church. But this brilliant book shows the opposite is true. He writes movingly about the people of God on the journey of God and invites us winsomely to join in the advancing kingdom of God. Get this book to get in touch with your destiny.
rector of St. Aldates Church, Oxford, UK
As an evangelist among people of other faiths, I have struggled with the huge chasm between our understanding and teaching of who we are as God's people in the world and our practice of church. Reading this book will help us to define the essence of our existence as a people of God in the world. Bishop David Zac makes a bold clarification of a rather hazy view of the church as God's pilgrim people that has been clouded with our propensity to settle for mediocrity.
-Canon Francis Omondi,
All Saints Cathedral Nairobi, Anglican Church of Kenya, chairman of CMS Africa, director of the Sheepfold Ministries
Here is a narrative-based theology of the church, the people of God, from the life experience and mind of an African theologian. It offers a prophetic challenge to common Christian confusions about and distortions of the church. Every Christian concerned about the state of the church should read it.
-Roger E. Olson,
Foy Valentine Professor of Christian Theology and Ethics, George W. Truett Seminary
It is so refreshing to read what Bishop David Zac Niringiye, long-term friend and brother, has to say about the church. On the one hand I am personally warned of how easy it is for us, lost in the exuberance of our inventions and redefinition of the church, to lose our bearing with regards to God's purpose for the church. On the other, I am reminded of why the church today should be a continuing story, journey and witness of the people of God to his kingdom. In a contemporary age in which the identity of the church has been re-created in our image - be it ethnic, social, economic or whatever else, with all their attendant paraphernalia, Bishop Zac's clear word is a call for sober reflection regardless of our church tradition. Rather than just a lamentation of how church easily slides from being 'all about God' to 'all about us' or even just 'me,' this is a prophetic call to rediscover and return to God's original purpose for the church in relation to his kingdom. I commend this book to all who long for the church to be the church as communities of God's people 'announcing and demonstrating the kingdom of God by the grace and power of the Holy Spirit.'
-Femi B. Adeleye,
director of church partnerships, Global Centre Christian Commitments, World Vision International
I can think of few people from whom I would rather hear about the church than from David Zac Niringiye from Uganda. He is biblically focused, intellectually careful, diagnostically truthful, courageously honest, emotionally bold, relationally sincere and publicly fearless. Hearing his voice and seeing his life as a brother and mentor has changed my life. This book will hopefully open that experience to many others as well. If the body of Christ is to be God's light and salt in the real world, we need Bishop Zac to confront and inspire us to new and vigorous life.
president, Fuller Theological Seminary