4 X 12  
 Christís  Disciples  



                           Journal for

Whole Theology and Practice
           (formerly   DISCiple ministries)





Whole  Theology and Practice



" . . . to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ."

Ephesians 4:12,13 NIV



What is  Whole Theology & Practice ?

 Whole Theology and Practice (WTP) is a Christian educational ministry working for wholeness in theology and practice both in the church and the academy, functioning with the biblical perspective of wholeness in the complete Christology embodied by Jesus. As a support ministry for Christian church and academy, WTP is dedicated to assist serious Christians, church leaders, seminary faculty and students in these relational processes for the purpose of developing discipleship for the wholeness of the body of Christ, the Christian community, the family of God. With the cooperative work of the Holy Spirit to compose whole theology and practice, WTP offers qualitative education, training, opportunities and resources in wholeness while using "the three AREs" of Jesus' pedagogy: Accessible, Relational, Experiential. We also seek to establish Centers for Whole Theology and Practice (CWTP):
(1) Growth
CWTP in larger churches to provide support for surrounding churches
(2) Study
CWTP in seminaries to develop wholeness in curriculum in which both those teaching and studying will grow in God's whole on God's terms notably embodied by Jesus.

Not affiliated with any denomination, nor of a particular tradition, WTP is a biblically based nonprofit organization serving the Christian community (both individuals and churches, including the academy).


Our Focus

WTP does not promote a particular program, format, style or activity. Rather, our interpretive framework, our identity and our function are rooted in and constituted by relationship -- not merely any relationship but the relationship of God. Therefore, we contextualize the Christian life, the church and the gospel into the deeper relational context and process of the whole of God which were vulnerably revealed in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Namely what Jesus embodied was the trinitarian relational context of family by the trinitarian relational process of family love -- nothing less and no substitutes. Anything less and any substitutes in theology or practice are reductionism.

This focus ongoingly requires us to deal honestly with these three major issues:


1. How we define ourselves.

2. How we do relationships.

3. How we do church.


Christian identity, Christian living and the Christian church are functions of the whole person (signified by the heart) and the relationships together necessary to be whole -- both of which have been de-emphasized by modernity, notably by fragmenting the person and diminishing the qualitative function of relationships. Consequently, we need to understand these three issues within God's created relational context as well as by the relational process of Christ's work of redemption and reconciliation for the primacy of relationship together.


Based on this relational context and process Jesus established in the incarnation, and which the Spirit is present to bring to completion, the practice of authentic discipleship integrates the function both of intimate relationship with God (spirituality) and of interdependent transformed relationships bonded organically in the church, embodied by faith corporately in community and functioning together experientially as family -- in the likeness of the Trinity.


Why This Approach?

As Paul summarizes the calling for the church in Ephesians 4:12,13 (noted above), the purpose of every Christian's uniqueness as a person gifted by God and our specialness "in Christ," of which we are all a part, find their true meaning in these words. The word "prepare" (Gk. katartismos) is used only here in the NT and means "to restore to former condition, put into proper condition." This implies that our usual (prevailing or natural) condition is not sufficient to fulfill "the work [Gk. ergon, calling, occupation] of service [Gk. diakonia, ministry]." This calling from God (cf.4:1) involves God's original design and purpose, the ongoing practice of which results in the church being "built up" (Gk. oikodome, house, building). This act of building is for a dwelling for God and his people, which has roots in the OT tabernacle. What is being "built up" in the NT, however, is not a place or church building (common view of church); this process also goes well beyond the edification of a Christian gathering (another view of church). "The body of Christ being built up" is the experiential reality involving the distinct relational process of building family -- God's family, for which "house" is a metaphor.

As verse 13 defines and the Greek terms for "unity . . . knowledge . . . mature . . . fullness" describe, God's whole purpose involves the process of building and experiencing intimate relationships together as signified in original creation and now constituted by the new creation. First and foremost is an intimate relationship with the whole of God so that we come to truly know God (the true goal of spirituality); but clearly and by necessity this also includes intimate relationships with each other in building God's family in wholeness. That's how God made us with the original design and purpose in likeness of the whole of God, the Trinity. And that's the former condition to which we need to be restored, the proper condition into which we need to be transformed as embodied by Jesus in order to fulfill works of service or ministry which truly have relational significance to God.


How Does It Happen?

Intimate relationships, and the ongoing intimate connections necessary to build them, have been distorted, denied or displaced by the everyday workings of sin throughout human history, with the period of modernity being especially detrimental to relationships. Postmodernism presents a limited reaction to this condition in its search for meaning and experiential connections in life. The human condition prevails in the human shaping of relationships, which is practiced pervasively among God's people today. Yet, Christ came to redeem us from the effects of sin -- namely the sin of reductionism of the person and relationships -- to restore us to God's design and purpose and to reconcile us in the intimate relationships for which God created us, and the relationships together for which Christ redemptively reconciled us to be whole in likeness of the Trinity.


To be restored to the intimate relationships necessary to be whole requires an ongoing process of transformation for which the Spirit is irreplaceable. WTP provides support assistance in this relational process in order to help "prepare God's people" to better take up Christ's calling for the various ministries necessary to build his family, the church. Though "ministry" often has narrow connotations, not to mention reductionist practices, WTP makes no distinction between full-, part-time or lay ministry. As men or women, young or old, we are all called to serve as members of Christ's body. And this basic relational condition is necessary for any service or ministry to be of significance to God, namely to be of relational significance for God's whole on God's terms.


Relational significance is the basic priority of God. Jesus himself said whoever serves him must first follow him (John 12:26). Some Christians say that "serving" and "following" are synonymous, or that service reflects following him. Yet, this is not a valid assumption. Jesus made the distinction between the two for an important reason. The Greek term for "serving" (diakoneo) focuses on what to do and the work to be done while the term "follow" (akoloutheo) concentrates on the relationship with Christ. This primacy of relationship together cannot be shaped or negotiated by human terms. So, it is not sufficient to merely do things for Christ; it is also necessary to be intimately connected and involved with him. And the primary priority is always involvement with him in this relationship, not the matter of serving, no matter how urgent the work is that "needs" to get done -- as the first disciples learned the hard way (John 14:9). Thus, we can't keep relational distance from him behind our good deeds nor define ourselves by what we do. Christian service and identity are functions only of our relationship with Christ in the life of his body. Anything less or any substitutes are reductionism of God's whole and God's terms.


Therefore, authentic discipleship needs to be understood in this relational context and process and, as such, integrates the spirituality of intimate relationship with God with the community of relationships as his intimate family in likeness of the whole of God, the Trinity. Jesus embodied nothing less and no substitutes.

Support Services  & Resources


●  Biblical and Theological Studies

●  Worship Studies and Music Resources

●  Seminars, workshops, conferences

●  Consulting, Counseling, Mentoring & small groups

●  Web Journal: 4X12.org

●  Curriculum Development


Policy note: Services provided may necessitate some monetary gift to cover expenses. WTP is a cooperative ministry supported by God's people, and we will never withhold any of our resources to those unable to give back financially. Contributions of service are a welcome alternative.



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