Faith & Encouragement

More Than Band-Aids

January 16, 2009

You guys are just full of it today, aren’t you? 36 comments? Wow.

Ok, so, we agree the modern method of assembly and orchestration is flawed, correct?

We all agree on that? Maybe?

Maybe not.

I’m going with the premise that we all agree.

If we believe this method is flawed and we desire an expression of fellowship which more closely resembles that which we find in Scripture rather than that which more closely resembles The Way Grandpa and Daddy Done It what are we to do? What’s the solution?

And no emotional responses. That pisses off Farmer Tom and I want to hear what he has to say… Er, what the Word has to say as apparently what Farmer Tom says isn’t worth Jack… Still, as a fellow believer, he adds to the discussion. In my humble opinion…

For those of you advocating FOR the Committee Church, what do you recommend to rectify this situation and for those of you/us leaning toward a more “organic” approach, how do you propose to implement your vision?  Do you have a vision?  Do you need a vision?  What’s the plan?  If even macaroni and cheese needs a recipe and it has neither food value or eternal value then certainly we must have a goal, a plan, a vision in mind for the concentrated and intentional gathering of those who call on the name of Yeshua, right?

I can’t remember who said it, but someone said (Erik?) not to throw the baby out with the bath water. Good point.  Not Erik… Eaglewood… Mea Culpa.

Here are the things I see that we agree on:

First:  The sovereignty of Scripture. With this small/not so small caveat…

Sola Scriptura is, at its inception, a Catholic theology which, while it does hold some truth is still attached to a cultic understanding and therefore I find it extremely difficult to support it as The Sola Scriptura, (cue angel voices, glitter dust and halos)….

I have been corrected by Erik (see comments) and thankfully so!  I mis-understood what I was reading as I researched the concept and your forbearance as I re-form my thought…  Ok, so Sola Scriptura is the belief that “is the assertion that the Bible as God’s written word is self-authenticating, clear (perspicuous) to the rational reader, its own interpreter (“Scripture interprets Scripture”), and sufficient of itself to be the final authority of Christian Doctrine”, end quote.  Gratis via Wikipedia, the most suspect research tool on the Internet after Google… *rolls eyes*

That distinction between Reformation Protestantism being the foundation for Sola Scriptura and not Catholicism is important to me and does effect how I view this theological viewpoint.  I do still ask the same question… Which follows…

What does one do with extra-canonical references to say, the book of Enoch (quoted by Jesus, Peter and Jude)? It’s not in the canon (who decided what was Scripture, way back when?) and yet it was quoted… How do you rectify oral tradition such as Halakhah and תורה שבעל פה, Torah she-be-`al peh or what is more commonly referred to as the oral tradition given to Moses by G-d in congruity with the written Torah, תורה שבכתב, Torah she-bi-khtav?

Secondly, the gifts and offices were given and are still given “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ…” Eph 4:12

Ephesians 4:7 is preeminent in position and I believe also in importance as it reminds us the first gift given to every believer is Grace… “ But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” It appears that we forget, all too often, that Grace is given as well as the other gifts mentioned in 4:11 to build up the Body… Digressing.

I don’t believe there is anyone here who would agree with the formula of one man having consummate authority over a group of believers, having the only voice to speak and the only one who hears from G-d. While that practice may be true to varying degrees within the individual fellowships found in the Western Church, I think, perhaps, we are all more in favor of a faith based in personal responsibility, personal accountability and personal initiative to obey the Word.

Perhaps?

So, there’s a problem… The Word has answers. We have brains AND the Holy Spirit to guide us.

How would you propose to fix this? Is it fixable? Are we trying to race the Grand Prix in a boxcar when we’ve been given access to Felipe Massas Ferrari F60?

Or are you just fine with the status quo?

In which case, you may be finding yourself bored with this entire discussion and would rather just plan the next potluck.

  • “I can’t remember who said it, but someone said (Erik?) not to throw the baby out with the bath water. Good point.”

    That would be me

  • Fixed it! 🙂

  • To be honest I have not given it much thought before now. I do agree that we need to look at the model set forth by the early church fathers, but what I have read so far in the word does not give much detail into how local congregations should be organized.

    So far it seems we have Three models.
    The MUF model that is the current method most churches employ today.

    The committee of leadership approach that Jason seems to favor.

    The organic approach that seems to be without any type of functional leadership other than the leader of the moment.

    How do we determine what approach is the most biblical, or for that matter what G_d wants. this is a complicated matter and may take more than a simple comment here to completely address. I will give it some more thought, study, and prayer.

    I have my ideas but they are heavily influenced by my mentor Jimmie. He has been struggling with and writing about this subject(purpose of church, worship models) for some time now. I want to be sure those ideas are sound.

    In the immortal words of the robot “I’ll be back”

  • aw

    A potluck is good – Hubby says to come on over – plan on bringing enough for your family and four more. . . . .(ya. its his favorite joke) Anywho – Funny you should mention grand prix, as I am browsing for ways to melt the lead to put in the little box cars . . . But you had a question.

    I personally am not called to “fix” the church – but I am called to live a life for Christ myself. I have been involved in eldership roles in a church where we were only there as yes men to the pastor. Once your yes was not given, you were asked to step down. This time drilled in my heart that I will never follow after a man. If I do congregate with people who have an outgoing leader – that I would never join the group because of that leader. If you have a group of people who refuse to hero worship the one that does the main part of the teaching – it will help TMUF to not have power. Helping people relate to each other and those in roles of leadership as equals.

    I have tried to find a local congregation – one made of members closest to where I live – one that I can be assured that if I chose to invite a pre-believer – they would be welcomed. I know that the Word is talked through – gifts are shared- Anytime you gather with more than one family – personal interests have to gather as well. There is no way to be truly free of self in a group setting. Setting up church meetings where all members from the 2 week newbies to the founders have equal voice is important and necessary.

    Coming together to learn about my Savior – to learn about him and what He did, and what He wants me to do – from His Word – thats what I want in a church – thats what I want in my friend gatherings. I crave fellowship where my friends crave the Word and embrace open prayer.

    Once you have people seeking the Word – and not a Leader – you will have a great group.

    I believe I belong to such a group right now. Our leader has many other leaders. He has half of the church on a leadership committee. I think the only qualifying thing after a follower of Jesus is the ability to put in the time.

    I am not ready to step up and be a leader. I may never be. I have leadership roles to work on in my own home with my children right now. I rely on and appreciate all of what our team does. Do I agree with everything – not quite so far. But – do the things I disagree with change the fact of who we agree is the Messiah? No. So I carry on.

  • This is why AW and I are friends… I’m just sayin’.

    Eagle, looking forward to what you might have to say.

    I’m not looking for a quick fix, it’s just the way I operate. Problem? Seek for a solution. If I’ve sought every way I know and the problem isn’t fixed? Then I’ll leave it alone. But not until then.

  • Okay Eagle got to correct something, so do I! Sola Scriptura means “By Scripture Alone” It is the basis for Protestant doctrine, not Catholic. Catholics believe in Sacred Tradition

    I completely disagree with the catholic doctrine and I can say at the very least that Eagle and FT believe in Sola Scriptura as well (their feelings for Catholic doctrine I leave to them)

    And let me add one other thing about myself. I don’t follow. I just don’t. I look at my beliefs, am ready to take correction from others, but I have never felt, at any time, that someone has “authority” over me. This is pretty much in all realms (gets me into trouble at times) I think this is because I see that we are all flawed. All men are just men and nothing more. I view pastors as teachers and really nothing more. So perhaps I don’t struggle with this issue as others do because I am in no way submitting when I sit for an hour or three listening to what someone has to say. Do others have “authority to speak”? Sure. It doesn’t mean that I have to obey them. And if they speak not the Word of G-d then by no means will I do so. Looking back the problems that some of you have described may be why I wasn’t acknowledged more for my service in a mega-church despite the fact that EVERYONE knew who I was (church staff and volunteers that is) and what I did. Sometimes I chaffed at that, but in the end we are all human and as such we all need an ego stroke and perhaps are more willing to keep those around us who give us that. I simply am not that type of person.

    Some of those people I had/have tremendous respect for and would do most anything for them, even today, but it isn’t submission but an act of freewill based upon the fruits I have seen from their use of their gifts. But at the same time I have also gone over their heads (authority wise)should the situation warrant it simply because it is the right thing to do.

    I’m a rebel, what can I say? (o=

  • If we have a potluck I’ll bring the beer. Remember, I don’t go to a building so the no drinking thing doesn’t apply to me. I secretly had a beer many times when I was in the building too. I think it was against the rule if you were considered an Up Front Leader. Don’t tell anyone.
    Oh, I’ll bring micro brew.

  • Erik, thank you. Please note that I did change the information to reflect the more correct understanding. Feel free to correct me at anytime. And Rick… Beer is always welcome, as is tequila, good red wine and vodka.

    Erik again… I love it that you can recognize the difference between someone teaching with conviction and the authority of maturity and the wisdom of study while not being confused as to whether or not you are “under their thumb”, so to speak.

    I am trying to make the distinction myself. And I am apparently learning the hard way how to make it all work.

    Btw, if you are within driving distance on Pesach/Passover, please consider yourself invited to share the Seder with my family. We’d love to have you. Just let me know in advance so I will know how much lamb to buy, how many matzohballs to make and how much wine to pour.

  • So, how did we end up with our Bible?
    Some good info here

    And here (Note: This is an islamic apologetic website but lists some great information on the various canons.

    It should also be noted that Constantine could not have influenced more than a single one of these meetings, and that they all agreed upon most of the books anyways.

    From other sources I have read, many of the other books out there covered the same material or were so basic as to not be considered. One of those too basic to be considered books I looked up and it really was. A simple reading of the other books should more than get the point across.

    I have never been a scholar of just how we came to have the Bible we have. I don’t worry too much about it because it seems that you can get enough of the Gospel from just about any one of those books to come to know G-d. Obviously some of the shorter ones… not so much. But the truth of G-d is in those words for in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with G-d and the Word was G-d. The same was in the beginning with G-d. All things were made by Him and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness. How lucky we are to be able to have such a large collection of His Word, when others in this world clamor for but a single page and believers will come together to hear from it over and over again, sometimes for years as it is all they have.

    My thoughts are all over (perhaps due ti it being nearly 1 AM?) So I will leave with this. Scripture is uniquely error correcting. We are told in numerous places that all truth should be established by two or three witnesses. (2 Cor 13 :1, Heb 10:28 Deu 17:6 & 19:15 etc) As such I do not believe that doctrine should be based upon a single verse unless it also is written elsewhere and preferably by a different author. This also gives us the opportunity to read it from a slightly different perspective (as any two witnesses would have) which enables us to get a clearer view of the issue at hand. Such a view would eliminate such garbage as the Jabez Prayer phenomenon.

  • Erik,

    Certain terminology entered later versions of the Bible. I’m not saying, nor have I ever said, that Constantine is responsible for everything. However, he had great influence on much of our traditions in church today. Those facts are undeniable, along with his promotion of the Bishop form of church governance.

    There were other Roman Emperors before Constantine that had similar influence on the church. His influence basically brought Christianity to the forefront of political and civic influence.

    Most versions of the Bible we use today were not written or translated during the early days of Christianity. Most have been written in the past few hundred years; thus, the Pagan influence is strong.

  • Jason

    I’m going to end my participation in this conversation with the following (although I should’ve listened to myself a few days ago and quit then):

    Luke 6:43-45

    “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.

    It’s obvious that we all see things differently and we’ll never agree. That’s fine. I wont’ lose sleep over it.

    As much as I despise Tom’s behavior and attitude toward others who disagree with him (and I’m basing this on previous interactions), it is not my place to judge whether there is fruit in Tom’s life, and vice versa.

    I point on the above verse to say that church is secondary to producing fruit. If you’re attending a typical church setting, and not producing fruit or loving others, you are not fulfilling the Law of Christ. If you’re outside the institutional church and not producing fruit, your are not fulfilling the Law of Christ.

    Each of us is first and foremost responsible to God. We should worry about our own relationship with God before we worry about what others are doing:

    Matthew 7:3

    “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?

    If I’m loving my wife, taking care of my kids, working to provide for them; if I spend time in God’s word, love others, care for those in my community; if I continually pray and seek God’s face; if I fail when I repent; if I accept Christ’s love for me and confess my sins, understanding that the way to heaven is only through Him; and if I do all of these things and the fruit in my life is evident to those around me – my family, my friends, community members – then who is anyone else to judge me?

    The same goes for all of you when it comes to how I view you. Does it really matter? No, it doesn’t. Does it matter what you and I do with what God gives us? Yes. Does it matter that if God tell us to do something and nobody else understands it or judges you for it. Nope, it doesn’t.

    So I leave this conversation with this final verse:

    John 15:4
    Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

    God has called each of us according to his will and purpose. Our paths and journeys are not the same. As long as we are bearing fruit, that is a true indication of our relationship with Christ and our willingness to submit to his word. Just because you attend church and follow a ritual doesn’t mean fruit is abundant in your life.

    So whatever you’re doing, go and bear fruit.

  • AW

    Well Said Jason. Thanks.

  • Jason,

    Now that you have decided to quote Scripture I am in agreement with what you just posted. Thanks!

  • AW, Love what you said at the top. I’m not called the fix the church, I’m called to serve God and His people. He’s in charge and must lead me.

    Here’s a thought: So many of us talk about this very issue. I have many friends in similar positions and they keep searching for this answer. I sometimes wonder, and am not judging this conversation, if the enemy doesn’t try to get us all wrapped up in details so we fail to do what God really wants us to do.

    I remember when I was in a club church little debates like this ended up splitting churches. One of them started over the color of the carpet for the new sanctuary.

  • Jason

    Heidi,

    I read this in my devotional by Oswald Chambers..just thought I’d share:

    “The call of God is the expression of God’s nature, not of our nature. There are strands of the call of God providentially at work for us which we recognize and no one else does. It is the threading of God’s voice to us in some particular matter, and it is no use consulting anyone else about it. We have to keep that profound relationship between our souls and God.”

    What I have learned over the years is that often times our biggest critics, and those who push against us and judge us the harshest, are fellow Christians. Sometimes we must ignore the fleshly voices around us and listen to the one true voice – the call of God.

  • Jason

    Erik,

    Thanks.

    I know all of the Scriptures in the New Testament that talk about leadership. I didn’t need to quote many of them because I was attempting to bring context and historical perspective to each one as it was brought up at various times through the discussion.

    You can’t just read the Bible at face all the time without some basic understanding of the original languages, surrounding culture(s), historical nuances, and the specific peoples books or letters were written to or about.

    One of the basic problems is using one scriptures from one particular book, like Ephesians, and then correlating it with versus about leadership in 1 Timothy. While the Bible is an overall view of how we should live and function as believers, each letter is an individual writing to a specific people, at a specific time, addressing specific problems. Unless there is a specific correlation that exists, you cannot use the versus in Ephesians along with 1 Timothy to prove that the pastor-led leadership model is biblical.

    The problem is that anytime someone or a group of people attempt to bring a different viewpoint to the table that questions thousands of years of church tradition, people get their backs up.
    Questioning the way church leadership functions is a dangerous road to travel if you’re the one asking the questions. Most Christians just accept the status quo and never question why the institutional church does what it does, or even if it’s biblical. They just accept it.

  • Jason

    Again, in the end, none of this really matters because it’s obvious we don’t see eye-to-eye. That’s why I wrote the post about bearing fruit.