Larry Miller's chapter on the church as a messianic society deeply resonated with me, and I particularly appreciated the closing words "only churches which are alternative societies, transformed in relation to existing society because they are already conformed to Messiah's vision of the future, can demonstrate the nature of life in the coming kingdom."
Much of the church seems to have exchanged a messianic vision of the future for end-times charts and graphs. For these communities, there's a tension between a theological pessimism and a patriotic optimism, which signifies a co-opting, IMO. The question of an alternative society within a culture where the church is largely co-opted into the vision of another society is a point of deep internal tension for me. I'm continually frustrated that the perception of Jesus' people tends to be shaped by the co-opted church, and continually find myself having to do deep deconstruction to separate myself from Falwell, Robertson, and the less-prominent 'church down the street' or Christians from someone's past.
Ideally, I love what Miller's saying, and the idea that a church really can demonstrate an alternative reality. However, when many churches promote the dominant perception of reality, this gets awfully sticky, and I worry about how much effect these small communities really have. I can see change happening on the micro level, but when it comes to the macro, my 'what if's tend to be muted. Any help here?