God's People is to be his Subversive Counter-Revolutionary Movement
God's people is to be his Subversive Counter-Revolutionary Movement. This was its mandate in whatever form it assumed in the Old Testament. This is its mandate as the church.
The church is to be subversive. It is to undermine from the bottom up the attitudes, actions, patterns, and systems put in place due to the revolution of humanity against God in the garden.
The church is to be counter-revolutionary demonstrating and declaring in its own life the designs God always intended for human life and setting itself against the passions and projects of rebellious humanity. We live for the way the world will be not for the way it is or was.
The Bible is for the most part the Field Manual of Operations for God's Subversive Counter-Revolutionary Movement. It reveals the vision of God for creation, humanity's rejecting of that vision, and God's continuing passion and strategy for a pursuit of his erstwhile human creatures and their communities, the victory of God over the powers of sin, death, and (d)evil in Jesus Christ, and the equipping of his people to live and love as they were intended in witnessing to God's victory and participating in his guiding his creation and creatures to their full and final flourishing (narrative, gospels, prophecy, apocalyptic). This gives the movement its plausibility structure.
There is also a history of some of the earliest development and growth of this movement (Acts) as well as nuts and bolts for the training in and practice of God's Subversive Counter-Revolutionary Movement (wisdom, teaching, epistles). Chief among these teachings is Jesus' exposition of life in the movement in the Sermon on the Mount in Mt.5-7. Here we also find challenges to the coherence of the movement (e.g. Ecclesiastes, Job) and responses to meet and process these challenges (e.g. Psalms, Daniel).
The authority of this book is God's use of it to “author” just such a community of folks committed to his subversive counter-revolutionary movement. To use it for other purposes, while legitimate, should never subvert the Bible's proper authority and turn it into what it was never intended to be.
In this movement ends govern means, integrity grows out of identity, nonviolence is a sine qua non (the “violence of love” - Oscar Romero), and hope trumps fear. At its center stands the figure of Jesus of Nazareth who is not only God's chief agent in achieving victory, but somehow and in some way he is God himself in human flesh. And, what separates the Bible from a Field Manual of Operations (the qualifier “for the most part” above), is that at the heart of this movement is relationship with this God, this Jesus, through the witness of this book.
God himself directs this movement through his two hands of the Word and the Spirit (Irenaeus). The end-point of this movement is the fulfilling of this relationship between the triune God, his creatures, and creation. This state is often called the glory of God, best described by Irenaeus again as, “humanity fully alive, and life beholding God”!
To abstract God's work of salvation from this context, the church from this role, the Bible from its proper function, is to skew the Christian faith right out the gate and mute the church's witness to the world in severe and substantial ways. This is where we find ourselves today in the North American church.