Modalities and Sodalities

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Winters states that the two terms (modalities and sodalities) are representatives of the two primary structures of early Christianity. He states that the two rose from pre-existing Jewish structures. Winter provides a clear definition of the terms:

Modalities: It is a structured fellowship where there is no distinction of age or sex. Denominations and local congregations are examples of modalities. This structure arose from a Jewish styled pattern, known as a synagogue, that was a prototype of the New Testament Church “where old and young, male and female are gathered together as normal biological families in aggregate”. Winter 245

Sodalities: It is a structured fellowship where membership involves an adult second decision beyond modality membership, and is limited by marital status, sex, or age . Mission agencies and men’s clubs are examples of sodalities. This structure arose from a Jewish styled pattern of evangelistic outreach (best represented by Paul’s missionary band) which was “organized out of committed , experienced workers who affiliated themselves as a second decision beyond membership in the first structure” 245

Winter takes time to point out that these structures were not “let down from heaven” as some sort of divine revelation. They were pre-existing structures, and in some cases words and phrases, that were molded and redefined for the missionary purpose to evangelize the world with the gospel message. Winter emphasizes that “the profound missologoical implication of all this is that the New Testament is trying to show us how to borrow effective patterns ..” 245 246 In this argument, Winter supports the sodality structure within the oversight, but not control, of the modality structure. The point is clear, if the early church, upon which modern missological strategies are based, utilized existing paradigms for Chrisitan evgelization then modern missions should not draw back from doing the same. Both scripture (typified by...
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