Although originally published 20 years ago, The Church In Exile by James W. Thompson is even more on-target today.
Taking its title from a phrase in the book of 1 Peter in the Bible (aliens and strangers in the world), Dr. Thompson makes the Apostle Peter’s counsel readily applicable for today. Christians don’t belong to this world, we are simply exiles living here temporarily until we reach our true home in heaven. Peter addresses how we as exiles are to conduct ourselves in foreign—often hostile—territory.
Dr. Thompson brings in just enough cultural background from the first century to set the stage, but then quickly shows the reader the parallels to the twenty-first century. He also uses just enough of his extensive knowledge Greek to pull out the deeper definition of words, but not so much as to make this a dry read. On the contrary, I was almost instantly hooked, and learned so much from every chapter.
I found this quote near the beginning of the book which set the stage for me:
“The changes that have taken place within the last generation will not make exiles of those whose Christian commitment demands little of them. Nor will it make exiles of churches that speak only to echo what others are already saying. Indeed, religion may remain popular in our culture as long as it exists only to bless the popular values. However, those who are willing to say that God has decisively revealed Himself only in Jesus Christ, and that our response to Him is a matter of ultimate importance, will be exiles in a culture that believes that all commitments are equally valid.”
The Church In Exile could easily be used as a personal Bible study tool, as a companion to reading through 1 Peter. However, the discussion questions at the end of each chapter would also make this book an excellent study guide for a small group Bible study.
I am an ACU Press book reviewer.