The early restoration leaders had a dream. It was a dream to bring about unity among all the divisions in Christianity (which have only grown exponentially more numerous) through the restoration of first century Christianity.
Some believe we arrived. No. Many believe we arrived. We restored New Testament Christianity, they say, because we look like them on Sunday. Five acts of worship. Scriptural leadership and governance, correct view and practice of the Lord’s Supper and Baptism.
We restored it. It’s done. Now we rest on our laurels and defend it against all comers because what we have is set in concrete and any change would make us wrong. The vision is to have no vision. The vision is, at most, maintenance of the status quo.
But look back at the first paragraph. Can we say we have restored New testament Christianity merely through mirroring practice if the actual goal was never achieved? Unity.
I don’t see how we can say it is restored if we aren’t united in the same way they were in those early years.
Unity involves far more than doctrine. Unity in the early church also involved bringing people from all nations in the church. Racially diverse congregations. Jews and Gentiles all in the same house (which was a big deal – see Acts 10:27-28), indwelt by the same Holy Spirit, worshiping the same God (see Eph 4:3-6).
We turned to defense mode because we seemed to have accomplished the “How” of our vision but never the “Why”. We should still be on the offensive – making inroads toward unity – across socioeconomic lines, racial lines, etc. Until that is accomplished, the restoration goal isn’t met because we still don’t look like them and don’t embrace their ethos. We have the first century veneer without the skeletal structure of the first century body of Christ.