As I discussed in Upadaria And The Benedict Option, the chief flaw I have found in Rod Dreher's book THE BENEDICT OPTION is that he offers no concrete blueprint others can either directly follow or at least use as a starting point for their own ideas. Christians in the West, and anywhere we face a hostile culture, must consider the power and necessity of liberation and empowerment through the shared responsibility and mutuality of a freewill covenant association of fellow Christians with the same convictions (not just beliefs). This will protect Christians from godless coercion or influence and equip them to convert sinners to Christ and discipline the nations.
What we need is a blueprint for spiritual revolution which you, as a Christian, can simply ADOPT in whole by joining this particular effort, or which you can ADAPT to other diverse efforts. That is what Upadaria is about as a part of a coming new Kingdom Era of the Ecclesia, as a vision for a new Christian civilization, as a lifestyle and governance discipline, as an intentional new Christian nation of people centered on a rebirth of the multi-family extended household, and as a newly forming non-territorial commonwealth organised as a fraternal Christian Missionary and Refugee Society centered on regionally distributed and intentional mission communities. It provides both the theological and ideational framework for a new understanding of a possible future and it provides a blueprint which you can choose to either adopt or adapt to your own diverse efforts.
This is a spiritual revolution for your life, your family, and both the communities you currently belong to and the new communities you will intentionally form. It begins within, yet it encompasses the world. It is a revolution within. It has a blueprint, which, as noted, you can adopt wholly or adapt in part to your own diverse efforts.
Today, July of 2017, Upadaria as a vision and idea is virtually unknown. The number of people who would even profess to agree with these ideas is very small, and the number who would take on this as a nested sociocultural or national identity within the universal Christian identity is smaller stilll.
And yet, while there are many more Christians coming into alignment with the core thesis that undergirds this blueprint than there have ever been, none offer an actual blueprint. Many say, "this new thing is coming, but I cannot give it a name or a description."
The core thesis is that Christianity is entering a new era and that Western Civilization is declining and must be eclipsed by a new and Christian civilization. First, many are starting to opine, we are leaving the era of churchianity and entering a new era, the Kingdom Era, or, as I prefer to describe it, the Kingdom Era of the Ecclesia. Second, many are seeing that Christianity as a sociocultural and political or economic influence in the West especially is eclipsed and that, even as the institutions of this old civilization fall, a new and Christian civilization will emerge.
What few see, and which a undergirds this blueprint, is the new understanding of the purpose and meaning of nations of people as both agencies of God's blessing and as corporate witnesses for Jesus to the nations. A theology of nations is necessary to understand the emerging new Kingdom Era of the Ecclesia and of the emergence of a new Christian civilization. This theology of nations ties together these two concepts, it bridges them, it both explains how the Body of Christ is its own universal and eternal nation to which we owe prime allegiance and how diverse nations of people whose God is the Lord will discipline the nations of this world and convert many to Christ.
While many have approached the coming era from the broad to the narrow perspective, I propose a narrow to broad approach instead. My aim would not be to unify the local Christian community and compel them by force of my arguments to behave as a single spiritual city-state with many nations of people represented within at family and extended family levels. This notion supposedms that diverse nations of people will emerge only after the local Kingdom community or Ecclesia emerges.
But the Ecclesia does not have to emerge. It exists. I would propose that until familial communities emerge, unified within BOTH their own unique national consciousness and within our shared universal nationhood in Christ, that a restoration of the consciousness of the Kingdom and the Ecclesia is impossible. I know that will be a controversial statement, but if you have no realization of nationhood then how can you live it in the Kingdom or as a witness to the nations for Jesus?
It is within the level of the family and extended family WITHIN a unique temporal nation that the first steps toward Christian living begin. The first steps toward Ecclesia in the first century were families and households of people from the same national backgrounds, and they came together both within the local Ecclesia which included all Christians of all nations and as witnesses to their whole nation of people scattered throughout the Roman world.
(To be sure, communities emerged from groups of individuals who were of various ethnic backgrounds, but in practical terms each ancient oikos HAD TO have shared proximal convictions beyond Christian universals or it could not function.)
To form the kind of close-knit oikos (extended multi-family household) within a shared koionia (freewill covenant association) that led to true Christian sociocultural autonomy from the world, and yet unified all Christians regardless of nationality, required very cohesive or shared convictions about how to live and act in daily life. The Hebrews and the Greeks in Jerusalem (basically traditional versus Hellenized Jewd) formed their own oiokos, and then formed the whole Ecclesia. They ate together because they had the same food culture. They spoke the same language. Their daily conduct was the same. They did not have the same convictions but they had the same faith, and that faith was stronger than their differences of conviction. (It is for this reason that even when Christians of diverse nationalities were thrown together they could form an oikos, but eventually they had to arrive at shared convictions, and often did, if we trust the historical record. This was the exception, not the rule.)
I have said this before, but it bears repeating: Hebrews 10:25 is no mere admonition to go to church. It was written to the saints in Jerusalem and describes the problem we saw explained in Acts when the traditional and Hellenized Jews, with different convictions about many aspects of daily life and diet, refused to meet together within the broader Ecclesia. This is an admonition against being walled off from fellow Christians over differences in convictions not essential to the faith.
We don't need to eliminate differences. They cannot be eliminated. The efforts to create one, single, detailed Christian culture or national identity, e.g. saying "I am only a Christian and a citizen of the Kingdom", or some such thing, remind one of the tower of Babel. God has ordained that from one blood many nations of people are to emerge, not that many nations of people would lose their differences and become one nation. It is not "out of many, one", but "out of one, many." And that one already exists, it was founded in the 1st century. It does not need to be re-founded!
This is what is missing from every other attempt to inaugurate the new Kingdom Era of the Ecclesia, or whatever people wish to call it. So many are trying to eliminate differences. They don't like denominations or diverse national identities. They want everyone to stop building diverse works and only focus on the Kingdom. At least for now.
The idea is, "build the Kingdom and diverse nations of people will emerge locally." But nations are not local, they can be global. And the Kingdom exists. What doesn't exist, what we need to move on to get beyond churchianity, is the existence of Christian nations, the many and diverse nations whose father is Abraham. This is expressed as a local extended household group or oikos.
A multi-family extended household that serves Jesus needs roots above and roots below.
By roots above, I mean a sociocultural identity and national community of scale that unites all who have these same specific convictions everywhere around the world. That is what the ancient Oikos had. And this is my breakthrough: we cannot have oikos without the kind of cohesion and proximity of convictions that diverse national identity provides. I am only speaking of shared culture and convictions when I speak of national identity, not of the modern notion of race.
Roots below speaks to a deeper and broader foundation, which was the Ecclesia as a spiritual city-state of the Elect who are citizens together of the Kingdom of God. As a physical city-state, a Polis governed by its Ecclesia encompassed many household communities of similar nationalities, many of which had their own city-wide associations. So too the Ecclesia as a spiritual city-state. The roots below are foundational, and that foundation connects all the national communities at an even deeper, spiritual level.
Today's churches lack both of these roots. They try to avoid the mundane convictions of daily life, and they are often silos cut off from the broader regional Ecclesia. This is the reason why I see churches having a role within, but not not being the prime mover of, the new era. They lack both roots above, to a shared set of specific convictions that create a sociocultural context and shelter, and roots below that connect them in a meaningful way to the whole Body of Christ.
The intentional creation of extended household groups within the context of a shared set of national convictions and a shared way of life and that are deeply connected to the greater Christian community is the path forward. Having roots above and roots below creates balance.
The idea is not to gather every local Christian and organize the Ecclesia and then let people of similar convictions form household groups out of which nations will emerge. While I was once willing to agree with this approach, I don't think it will work. But, be that as it may, it is not the vision God assigned me to share. So, this is just my opinion. Of you disagree, that is fine, this is a matter of conviction.
Now imagine this: a Christian joins himself or herself to a Christian nation of people, this person practices the convictions and disciplines of that nation in their life, they eventually connect with or persuade others who choose the same way of life. This becomes the basis of a small group called a Round Table Group. This group practices family and community, and takes the roots above and roots below approach.
As for the roots above approach, they adhere to and connect with a larger national community whose members might be connected online and distributed globally. This gives them larger scale knowledge, skill, and resources.
As for the roots below approach, they attend whatever local church they attend, they seek to connect and fellowship with Christians wherever they live and work, being devoted to the things the "Ecclesians" (a word I use for Christians who consciously practice ecclesia) of the first century practiced, things like breaking of bread and prayer, for instance.
Their community grows through cellular division to form a regional national community (Shire at the local level, Regency at a higher level). Those communities all practice the roots above and roots below approach, and they live missionally, preaching the Gospel and helping the needy, especially fellow Christians. They serve the whole Body, helping churches and ministries. Their members become known for being intentionally connected to fellow Christians.
This influences others, from different national communities, and it influences other Christians to be connective with each other. Ecclesia exists, but real consciousness that we all belong to this spiritual city-state governed by Christ through the elect emerges as something tangible. The small household group with its roots above and roots below becomes a genesis point for both larger regional associations of people from the same Christian nationality and for a growing consciousness of the reality of the ecclesia as a spiritual city-state.
I do not think we can summon or create the ecclesia, it exists. The ecclesia is a reality we have to appropriate within our Kingdom citizenship and our shared nationhood in Christ. We live that by connecting with all Christians on the basis of the practices of the ecclesia and for the furtherance of the Kingdom among men. Every community of Christians of every kind should have roots above that connect it by convictions to a larger community and roots below that connect ITS MEMBERS to every Christian in their vicinity. It should expect such roots below, and it should incorpate this as a standard of admittance.
I am not going to argue here about the theology of nations. That is both within my upcoming book and it will be included here. Suffice it to say, nations of people are an agency of Divine will for blessings and purpose within human civilization. The whole march of history is about disciplining the nations, on an individual and corporate basis, to both comply with the Gospel and serve their own unique God-given purpose during the years of their existence.
The blueprint of this spiritual revolution is to build a new nation of people around these multi-family extended household groups which establish roots above and roots below, resulting in both creating a globally distributed nation of people and restoring a consciousness of the Ecclesia as a spiritual city-state governed by Christ through the elect who are all citizens of the Kingdom of God.
Upadaria is a nation of people with roots above to God's unique destiny for this nation and with roots below connecting us all to the whole Body of Christ. It is not the Kingdom. It is a temporal nation of people. But its value will be measured in how well its equips its members to extend the Kingdom of God through their witness and influence as members of a larger community, the spiritual city-state governed by Christ through the elect who are all citizens of the Kingdom of God.
Whether your community is a nation of people or a church and a denomination, this also applies. But our revolution is based on doing and living this instead of lecturing others.
This does not mean others should not take a different approach and teach the roots below foremost or exclusively. Although I suggest even they will need an extended household group with its own roots above in the coming crisis.