I have just finished a book by Frank Viola called "Rethinking the Wineskin".
He makes a strong case that most of what we see in Church today is not at all what Jesus established in the New Testament. He does a great job of proving that most of what we see today was added later as a result of pagan influences in the centuries that followed the time of the original apostles. In other words, the Church has evolved to what we see today without Biblical support.
Here are just a few examples of the Church's evolution.
(1) The establishing of a clergy/laity distinction was foreign to the New Testament Church as it was created. Christ was the only High Priest and the rest of us all were a kingdom of priests with nothing in between.
(2) In the Church that Paul described, when they came together, every one had a song, hymm, spiritual song, teaching, revelation etc. It was not a pulpit to pew, performer to audience set-up. All were expected to minister.
(3) The Church that the aposltes were led to create met from house to house. They Church did not evolve to building and meeting in temples made with hands until the 4th century.
(4) There was no such position of a single Pastor leading a Church in what Christ established. Jesus was the only Master or Rabbi and all the rest of us were just brethren.
My question is: Should the Church have remained as it was created by God or did He intend it to evolve to its current form? Should our commitment to the New Testament as our model of the truth cause us to try to restore the Church to her former structure and practices so we can have her former results?
Family Radio has a daily Bible study show with brother Harold Camping that addresses this issue in great detail.
I suggest checking this link out: www.Family Radio.org
Perhaps it may answer your question better than i can. There's tons of useful information on that site pertaining to this.
I read 'The Mythmaker - Paul and the Invention of Christianity' several years ago which argued that Paul created Christianity by taking Jesus' teachings and modifying them. (I seem to remember other writings along this same argument). Right or wrong, it was a good read.
The book pointed out that most of the books of the New Testament were written by Paul or one of his followers (Luke comes to mind) and that Paul never even met Jesus.
One could argue that Christianity has evolved since Jesus' death.
For the sake of my question, let's assume that the Bible as we currently have it is the Word of God. Is it's picture of the Church the right one or was this just the genesis and what we see today is the Church after it evolved?
Paul as an apostle of Christ, taught a certain distinction between lauty and leadership - deacons and elders / overseers that would shepherd the laity.
The deacons and elders are also technically laity - just people setting an example for teh others. Deacons and elders have no merit before God in and of themselves.
Very true. Good points.
Paul taught a plurality of elder / everseers where are were essentially equal. But theya re essentially lay leaders, not "a cut above" the flock, but they come from among teh flock.
IMO, wrong question.
Right question is "IS what Paul described according to teh will of God?"
Based on apostleship, Pauls word carries the weight of Christ's words.
And Christ Himself established that apostleship with Peter, James, John etc.
But your general point about a much more organic, relational church is spot on, with less hierarchy, formality, and perhaps especially capital investment and plant and equipment.
We spend so much of God's money on building and upkeep, imagine what true spiritual work could be accomplished instead.
In the Old Covenant, there was a priestly class and they had the teaching authority to represent God to the people and the people before God.
But Hebrews teaches us that with the New Covenant, there was a change in priesthood and a change in law.
In the New Covenant, it is not the Levitical order of priesthood where sacrifices had to be made continually before God and the priesthood had to be continually passed down because the priests were mortal and continually died.
Instead we have a High Priest, Jesus Christ, who is a priest after the order of Melchizadek who has no beginning or no end. He never dies so never has to be replaced and He offered one sacrifice forever sanctifying those who believe.
Therefore, like Abraham coming directly to Melchizadek (pre-incarnate Christ) to give tithes and to receive the bread and the wine and the blessing, we go directly to Christ as our only priest between us and God.
The change of law with this change of priesthood says that we should no longer have a ministry class teaching us the ways of God, but each will know Him from the least to the greatest and His law will be written on all of our hearts so no one will have to tell us to know God.
It seems that the early church understood this. There was no hierarchy of ministers over laity, but it was more like a family. There were a plurality of overseers, but instead of hierarchal titles, they were just called elders. (Older brothers in the same family with the same Father, so to speak).
Paul never refered to himself as the Apostle Paul like it was a title to give him authority over others, but just Paul the aposlte. This signified his work or his function in the family. He was a spiritual father to some, but he never seemed to lord it over others like men do today when they put the title 'Pastor' in front of their name.
I was an autocratic Pastor for many years, but no more. I am one of the elders (older brothers) in our fellowship and I help others to follow the Lord as He is the Shepherd of our little flock. Jesus is the only mediator between God and man and I will never again take a place of representing God to the people or of representing the people to God. I will just do my part to help others to follow the only leader that we all have together.
There are 5 ministry gifts given by Christ as revealed in Eph 4:11, but these are given so that we can all grow up and do the work of the ministry. These are not the ministers. The people (all of them) are the ministers. These gifts are given to train and mature so we can all minister. There is no where in the Word (as I see it) where these men are given authority over others. They serve others with their gifts, but Jesus remains the Lord over the people and the Head over the Church.
Jesus said that the gentiles exercise authority over one another, but it should not be that way with us. Boy, we sure have followed the Lord in that one.
Paul recgnized his apostleship, but saw it more as a duty than an elevated position. He said that a "dispensation" was committed to him over the Gospel - God had made him a steward charged with teh responsibility of "dispensing" God's truth.
At the opening of most every epistle, Paul calls himself teh "bond slave" of Jesus Christ. Hierarchically, if we are all fellow heirs of the grace of God, the "pastor" is, in a large sense, one who places himself BENEATH the fellow heirs to serve and help them.
Just keep the balance presented in Heb 13:17 (as well as other passages) - "obey them that have the rule over you, for they watch for your souls."
We as elders are NOT some kind of vicar of God, but we are charged to benevolently "ruke over" a flock that has agreed to our "rule."
Such "rule" should look more like service, and prayer with tears and fasting for the souls of our brothers in Christ.
One of the brothers in our fellowship said something Sunday that I felt was quite profound.
He said that there is a big difference between leading and ruling. Jesus alone has the right to rule over the church, but as elders we are called to lead God's people.
I know that the scripture uses the term 'rule' when it speaks of the elders who rule well being worthy of double honor. But, I have been meditating this point all morning while deer hunting and I know there is an important truth here.
Traditionally, rulers are set over and above the people and from this position, they dictate to the people what they should do.
Leaders, on the other hand, are seen as on the same level and heading in the same direction as the rest of the people, but they are just a few steps ahead of the rest as they lead.
I agree wholeheartedly that the change we need is not about buildings or specifics, but about an attitude in the heart of those who lead. The clergy/laity distinction is the key.
Leaders are refered to in scripture as 'elders' signifying a familial relationship of having just come before and thus are ahead of the others. It is more like an older brother under the same Father rather than a position of authority like in worldly governmental structures.
Jesus said that the gentiles exercise authority over one another, but that it should not be that way with us. An elder's maturity will automatically be 'felt' by those who are younger in the family and any wise man will follow someone who has run ahead and been successful so they do not repeat the older one's mistakes. Israel produced 12 patriarchs (fathers) while Esau produced 12 princes (rulers).
The buildings that we see today are not the root of the problem. They are the fruit of the root of men usurping Christ's place in the structure of the church and in the Lordship of people's lives. A raised platform centered around a pulpit where predominantly one or a few men minister while all other seats are facing this spot and looking at the back of everyone else's heads reveals an inordinant focus on a few members instead of the truth about the Body all bringing something from the Lord equally.
Was this book about the Catholic Church or just "the Church" in general?
Did the book have anything to say about music in the Church? I find today the Christian-rock songs in Church to be the most offensive and obnoxious part of the service --and it's ususally 70% of the service...
The non-denominational church I now attend started out as a few people meeting in each other's houses and has grown to several thousand memebers and a huge building.
Leadership is certainly a rare thing and is an important and specific role a pastor can take-up to help keep fellow Christians focused. I have found that even in a small Bible study group of 3 or 4 people, there is always someone who takes a leadership or "pastor-like" role to focus the group's discussion and lesson.
I do, however, acknowledge the notion of a formal pastor that has to get a formal education to become a government-recognised "reverend" is something that is not Biblical. This sounds like an interesting book though.
The presumption that has to be decided in this argument is whether the Holy Spirit guided the church as it evolved or not. Clearly, some see this evolution as the hand of God guiding the church thru history, as promised in scripture. Some see it as the constructs of man, devoid of heavenly guidance.
To claim a complete lack of hierarchy in the early church is to be ignorant of scripture and of history.
"(1) The establishing of a clergy/laity distinction was foreign to the New Testament Church as it was created. Christ was the only High Priest and the rest of us all were a kingdom of priests with nothing in between."
BS. Read Acts cover to cover than then get back to me. There most certainly WAS a huge distinction between the apostles (who had the power to grant the Holy Spirit and to teach) and everyone else.
Yes, Christians are a "priestly people" and hence all do offer up prayers and sacrifices (which is the function of priests) to make the created world holy unto God, but not all do this in the same way or degree. Paul's analogy of the body is eloquent enough to show that there is DIVERISITY in the Body of Christ, diversity of mission, of gifts, of authority.
To think otherwise is to ignore scripture and suppose Christ didn't found a historical community.
"(2) In the Church that Paul described, when they came together, every one had a song, hymm, spiritual song, teaching, revelation etc. It was not a pulpit to pew, performer to audience set-up. All were expected to minister."
Uh, no. Everyone knew the hymns of course - but the people didn't all know the Gospel to the same degree.... I'm not claiming the apostles had a special Gnosis but I am saying that clearly from ACTS and the epistles, the apostles and their leaders (Timothy, Titus, Apollos....) DID have teaching authority to make decisions which the people didn't share. It wasn't democratic.
As for pulpit and pew...that's not constitutional but accidental....sure when there are only 20-30 Christians it was common for them to meet in a home. But when you got 200-300, and then 2000 to 3000 Christians, it became necessary to meet in the only buildings designed to handle those kinds of numbers (i.e. the bascillicas) and for the presider to step up on a box or something so his voice could reach the back (pulpit).
Synagogues were no doubt used as well....
(3) The Church that the aposltes were led to create met from house to house. They Church did not evolve to building and meeting in temples made with hands until the 4th century.
uh... and your point is? If you only have a couple families in makes sense to meet in homes... but by the 4th century something like 30% of everyone in the Empire were Christians, and unity of faith and life itself points to everyone in a given city or town meeting together....so again, you gonna fit 3000 people in your living room skippy?
(4) There was no such position of a single Pastor leading a Church in what Christ established. Jesus was the only Master or Rabbi and all the rest of us were just brethren.
BS. Jesus NEVER claimed that his followers would all be given equal authority to decide everything on their own.
Instead he chose the 12, and of them 3 especially.... and of them, Peter was given pride of place and special commands (feed my lambs, feed my sheep).... and while the apostles did do things collegially (and still do), Peter made the big decisions (such as to grant baptism to the gentiles - a HUGE CHANGE made on his own authority based on his vision and the phenomena of the Spirit.
We ARE Jesus' brethren, but that doesn't mean we're all the same (again Paul's analogy of the body is clear that the foot isn't the eye.) Heck, even in Revelations you see the 24 elders with crowns while others have white robes and palm branches.... not everyone has equal power or authority.
"My question is: Should the Church have remained as it was created by God or did He intend it to evolve to its current form?" The latter - "Go ye therefore and make disciples of all the nations, commanding them to obey all my teachings, and lo, I will be with YOU, always until the end of the age".
Jesus was sending his 12 to the entire world - he knew obviously that the look would change, as even logistically it's different to handle 120 than 12.
God did not start the Church and then step back like a divine watch maker.... no, He promised to REMAIN with His Church, to build HIS CHURCH, to continually be there where "two or more" pray in his name.... It's extreme folly to think that Jesus didn't protect HIS CHURCH throughout the ages or to think some 1970 years after he died we are going to re-engineer the primitive Church based on wishful thinking and a very crude overlooking of the scripture we supposedly claim is divinely inspired....until it's intent is contrary to our modern likings.... such as ACTS apparently is for many who would create their own church without taking into account developments the first and only Church already went through.
"Should our commitment to the New Testament as our model of the truth cause us to try to restore the Church to her former structure and practices so we can have her former results?"
AND WHAT, PRAY TELL, WAS THIS PRIMITIVE CHURCH'S RESULTS IF YOUR THESIS - THAT IT GOT CORRUPTED - IS RIGHT?
If the Church Jesus founded scarcely survived in it's "originial form" for 2 generations how do YOU propose to restart it without major miracles?
Just seems like someone is putting the cart before the horse here.... without erudite scriptural exegesis, or history, or even basic theology and faith in the Lord's presence among his people, you are going to try to re-develop a small flock? To what end if not to one's own pride.... because ultimately it WON'T BE SCRIPTURE or the Lord's will that you will follow, but your own interpretation...YOUR OWN WILL.
Following the pattern we see in ACTS, Paul went to the apostles to get approval, he didn't read the Gospel and do it all on his own initiative. Unless we stay organically united to the descendants and heirs of that one flock, we are doomed to not know for sure that we're truly following Jesus as opposed to our own imagination as to what He'd will or do or be.
I'm not willing to claim that power or insight or authority to myself - and I'm a heck of alot more informed and trained that half of the protestant authors out there.
As for me, I support the notion the Bible teaches of elder rule over the flock. That "rule" often takes the form of serving, but alos includes "leading and feeding" the flock. All elders are pastors / overseers / bishops according to Scrip-ture.
The flock belongs to God, the elders are bu caretakers.
Scripture also establishes the role of deacon. Deacons are assistant pastors - people who remove road blocks that would prohibit the teaching of teh word. They meet financial and physical needs of the flock.
Hardly would I call this "primitive."
But beyond this hierarchy (if we must use that term) there is little Scriptural support for church gov't beyond that.
There's little *(actually zero) scriptural references to parking lots, yet every Protestant Church I've seen has them. Ditto with sound systems and projection screens.
But societies evolve don't they? Just because the bible is silent about something doesn't NECESSARILY make that development "unbiblical" or "bad".
Especially when it's an accidental (like building size, shape, etc) or practical (you have to park your cars somewhere!, The unaided human voice can hardly reach hundreds of people unless accoustics are perfect...).
Otherwise, do we propose to only preach outdoors like Jesus did? Or only from boats on on mountain tops?
Obviously sometimes outdoor services are necessary given the numbers, such as when the Pope has Mass for literally MILLIONS of people at one time. (6 million in the Phillipines is a world record, but Pope JP2 routinely held outdoor services for over 1 million. No building known to man could hold that many people.
I'm NOT arguing that everything hunky dory or perfect (we're dealing with human beings) but I am saying that one does not have to be Amish to be a faithful Christian.
Parking lots and sound systems have NOTHING to do with the church of Jesus Christ.
The gov't of the church of Jesus Christ does.
As such, EVERYTHING about the gov't of the church of Jesus Christ MUST have specific Biblical support.
And again, "Amish" or "primitive" has nothing to do with this discussion. To use such terms is unnecessarily inflammatory and employs the red herring device.
Please make your arguments FROM SCRIPTURE as it pertains to how the church of Jesus Christ should be run. I've read you posts - You are quite capable of doing so, rather than using red herrings.
Red herrings? Oh, like "big church buildings" and Pomp are NOT red herrings?
Or conflating what is used as a practical means of helping people participate with some 'doctrine' (pews, pulpits) that's unbiblical is not also a red herring?
We see in Acts the outline of how the Church developed and grew - the division of labor, the real difference in gifts and who could or could NOT grant the Holy Spirit via the laying on of hands.... we see how an apostle *(Judas) was replaced - via lots, but also by the body of the 11 praying and among them (and not the community at large) making the decision and criteria (he 'must have been with us since the beginning").
It wasn't enough to know scripture.... as evidenced by Peter taking the lead with respect to granting pagans baptism, and it wasn't enough for St Paul to argue 'from scripture' with the Antiocheans about the Pagan converts following the Mosiac law first.... they had to settle the dispute by bringing it to the apostles assembled in Jerusalem, i.e. they" - the believers - were NOT SUFFICIENT or endowed with autonomous authority to settle their own disputes.... they had to humbly go to Jerusalem and accept what the apostles decided.
Jesus told us that he would be present always - and in various ways; in the breaking of the bread, and also with those he was sending with his teaching mandate. He promised that he would GUIDE THEM via the Holy Spirit in 'all that he taught them' as well as other things yet unspoken.
If that's not a hierarchy then nothing is.
Kingdoms are hierarchical by nature - but you alread knew that. Jesus didn't tell James and John that that there WERE NO SEATS AT HIS LEFT AND RIGHT... just that they weren't his to give...
By all means, let's base ourselves on what the Bible says.... I'm confident that if we did the world would be Catholic, and not a hodge podge of home-grown autonomous and self-based 'pastors' who decided they'd pastor any flock that will follow rather than men called and who accept the mandate and laying on of hands by those who in turn received the direct laying on of hands...who themselves ultimately directly received this from the apostles themselves.
Now, being well acquainted with pride, I know it's definately harder to be a Catholic - requires far more humilty to accept that some men who perhaps aren't as highly trained or 'holy' as I am do in fact have teaching authority and power to grant the Spirit than I could never have.... it'd certainly make me feel better to think I could interpret the Bible autonomously and give myself this gift and annoint myself pastor of any group who I was able to amass.... but fidelity to the scripture leads to obedience and submission to those whom Jesus sent and St John's admonition to be wary of those who love to rule rather than submit to those who were sent rings in my ears.
Then why haven't you quoted any actual Scripture?
NOT extrapolate from Scripture....but actually exegete Scripture.
Thank you for posting that which I was unable to articulate. It seems like the various (and more radical) Protestant sects are breeding/training grounds for coordinated and baseless attacks on the Roman Catholic Church. However, we Catholics are not usually well-schooled in apologetics.
God bless you.
This whole thing comes down to the heart of the problems in the church today. Either Jesus and His Word are final authority or it is not His Church that He is building. You can all surmise all you want what you think was going on when the Church was perfectly founded by the Lord, but I will go with the instructions that the Bible actually gives.
(1) Leadership in the Church will not be a hierarchy like the gentiles?
But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. (Matt. 20:25-28)
But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.(Matt. 23:8-12)
(2) God ordained a pulpit to pew set up where the clergy ministered and the laity watched? How does God command in His Word that our services should be run?
How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God. Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.(I Cor. 14:26-33)
So, SKIPPY, whose services are closer to the instructions of God the Holy Spirit in the Word? When you come together does everyone have something to add? Does everyone bring a teaching?
I love how people love to throw the word 'pride' around whenever someone wants to humble themselves and go back to doing things God's way. I ask you, which is greater pride (1) to admit that we have allowed our traditions to take the church a mile away from the pattern that God established in His Word or (2) to ignore the instructions in the Bible on how we should be meeting and just go on with our denomination's idea of how we should have church?
Finally, your lame argument that we needed to build basilicas to hole the thousands of people with elevated pulpits so all can hear the priest only holds water if you think that every believer in a city had to meet in one place to accomplish the will of the Lord. That is not the Biblical revelation. Again, maybe we should trust the Bible over our traditions.
And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.(Acts 2:42:47)
Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Salute my wellbeloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ.(Rom 16:5)
The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house. (I Cor. 16:19)
Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house.(Col. 4:15)
There are many other such verses, but then again, some Christians think they know better than God how His Church should be structured. I would think that those who were closest to the Lord would have rightly followed His instructions and recorded for the rest of us how and where we should meet.
Of course, there is no centralized power base from which for the clergy to rule over the laity if the thousands of Christians in a city met in hundreds of homes. Of course, the hierarchal bishop in this city could not get to all of these meetings to tell the people what to do so they would end up having to have everyone minister as the Word commands. That would never do, would it?
Maybe, you Catholics need to get over yourselves a little bit. I never said anything about Catholics and the book I was talking about when I started this thread rightly makes no distinction between Catholics and Protestant denominations having fallen so far from the truth about the Church that Jesus established. Hierarchal Pastors that think that they are in charge of the Church of Jesus Christ and that they are the only ones anointed to minister is no better than Catholic priests and popes thinking the same thing.
The point is that Jesus clearly taught against what we see every Sunday or Saturday on every corner in America.
The real question is what are we going to do about it? It always comes down to the traditions of men that make the commandments of God of none effect and God's commandments. Do we serve as the Church or do we serve the Church?
It is interesting to note one Catholic proclaiming his scholasticism, and another proclaiming any disagreement with the RC position, even using Scripture, to be an attack.
No ones attacking.....we're discussing.
And hows about we let OTHERS praise us for oour scholasticism?
I know the first post wasn't anti-Catholic in word but it WAS in concept - how else could you read "Rethinking the Wineskin" and NOT get the idea that any organization, with big buildings and a chain of command and control is NOT "wrong" and hence "bad"?
We Catholics use the "capital C" when refering to the "Church" so when someone else uses it, as Kratos did, we assume he's only talking about one Church - namely, Christ's - which subsists in the Catholic Church. So he and the author WERE talking to us.
About quoting scripture: Your quote from scripture is eloquent. But it doesn't mean what you THINK it means. NOWHERE DID JESUS SAY THERE'D NOT BE LEADERS, OR GREAT ONES... he merely told them that if they'd be leaders or great they must serve!
Do you think the Popes and bishops haven't served their flocks? Have you ever MET the Pope or the bishops (I've met Ratizinger - I met him when he was a cardinal, walking down the street as humble as can be, carrying his own groceries...) Most Bishops you meet are extremely humble, servicial men. Not at all pompous and arrogant. So most of these kinds of charges are barks up the wrong tree.
And nowhere did Jesus categorically, in principle, (on penalty of sin) forbid us to use the word "father" - indeed, in Matthew's own Gospel - obviously written long after the Lord said "call no man Father....no man teacher..." used the word "father" dozens of time when refering to, well, FATHERS.
PAUL USED THE TERM 'FATHER' to reference HIMSELF! Does that disqualify him? no. St John wrote to FATHERS in his letters... does that mean he disobeyed the Lord?
Obviously not. Therefore you have to go back and re-read the words of Our Lord IN CONTEXT - KEEPING ALL THE REST OF SCRIPTURE IN MIND... to determine whether he was literal or making some other type of point about men taking on authority for themselves as opposed to earning it or being given authority from above....
After all, if no man is to be called a "teacher" then explain why in the Great Commission, Our Lord told the apostles to "go ye" and "teach" all the nations, all that He commanded of us? He was sending them out to teach.... what do you call someone who teaches? UM, YOU CALL HIM A 'TEACHER'.
Uh, duh, obviously again, taking the whole, entirety of the GOSPEL in mind, we see that Our Lord couldn't possibly have forbidden us the use of the term 'father' or 'teacher' but was making another point. Akin to "destoy this temple and I will raise it up in 3 days".
The very essence of 'scholasticism' is the ability to see the entire picture and thus see how each part fits in the whole. It's almost the definition of sophists or sophmores to seize on a part and blow it out of proportion, denying or ignoring the whole. That's where you get the "a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing' from.
Unfortunately, many Protestants AND CATHOLICS read the scripture with almost a pre-conceived template in mind full of proof texts that don't prove much of anything if they don't cross reference it with all the rest of scripture on the premise that God won't contradict himself.
I know this is how most people approach it though, so it's not their fault; people can be wrong about things without being 'bad'. We can all learn and hopefully do.
Our Lord himself used the word when describing the parable of the prodigal son! If he was making a categorical (rather than a rhetorical) statement on the word, he'd not have used it REPEATEDLY himself on other occasions!
As for a city of thousands meeting in their families.... how is THAT reflected in Acts where we see all the disciples MEETING IN THE TEMPLE AREA TO PRAY? How does that idea (of Christians not led by central authority, not gathering in one place) make sense in light of the need to establish the Deaconate so some men can 'wait on tables' while the Apostles focus on teaching and on prayer?
If the original Church wasn't centralized, didn't have a hierarchy and hence had no priests, no bishops who led the prayers and taught the Gospels....then please explain to us all the references in the Epistles of the early Christians meeting in public to pray (liturgy = public work)?
St John warned "his children" about ambitious men who loved to lead, he DIDN'T deny that some other men had leadership and authority!
Who was Titus and Timothy? They obviously had authority and it wasn't a micro-church meeting in living rooms. Synagogues weren't living rooms.
JUST BECAUSE HOME CHURCHES WERE THE START IN SOME PLACES DOESN'T NECESSARILY MEAN HOME CHURCHES WERE THE BE-ALL AND END-ALL OF 'CHRISTIANITY'.
Neither is it true that the Catholic Church teaches that people can't worship anywhere BUT in "bascillicas". The building and the geographical extensions called parishes or dioceses or whatever, are merely logistical aids, not considered ends in themselves either. In many lands - even today - Catholics worship in living rooms when under general persecution such as in Saudi Arabia or elsewhere.
So many words.
So FEW of them God's actual words.
"Amen, Amen I say to you, unless you eat my body and drink my blood you will have no life within you".
In the context of John's Gospel - and taking into account Acts, as well as the epistles of Paul, and the earliest non-scripture texts of the Church fathers, this line in John 6 was LITERAL.
Naturally, it would require alot of faith to believe Jesus' words. But the literal interpretation does not contradict other affirmations of Our Lord in the New Testament.
But Protestants reject the literal interpretation for a metaphorical or 'spiritual' meaning, which would seem to contradict the OTHER passages in the New Testament that presume Jesus was being literal here - as well as set into motion an interesting template for scriptural analysis for them to use elsewhere.
But you don't want words. You want bible quotes. Cut and pasted together to 'make the case', right?
The difference that Jesus was clearly making in Matt. 23 (taken in context) was that the Old Covenent had men who sat in Moses seat and were exalted because of it, but it should not be that way in the New Covenent.
The part you will not let yourself see (I did not say cannot see because you could if it would not shake the foundation of the Church that you have given your life to) is that there is a vast difference between functioning in a work and having an exalted title.
We have fathers in our homes who function in the role of a father until we are grown and on our own, but we do not make it a title of authority with a capital "F" in front of the name. My Dad is not Father John to me. He is my father and his name is John, but this is his place in my life, but not a hierarchal title.
We have teachers in our schools who teach our children and men in the church who are called to teach the Word. But we are not supposed to give them titles like Rabbi or Pastor. There is a vast difference between functioning in a gift and possessing a title that exalts a man above the rest of the laity.
Read the chapter, it talks about having special garments and receiving special greetings in the market place and having special chairs in the church. And Jesus condemns it all. I do not care if you are a Catholic Pope, Cardinal, Bishop, or Priest, or if you are a Protestant Pastor, or Bishop, of Elder or whatever. Is this a title that seperates you from others, do you wear special garments, do people greet you with this title in front of your name or do you have an exalted chair in the church? If so, then you are participating in a practice that the Lord commanded us to not allow.
And for the record, I met Cardinal Cushing in Boston at my Cinfirmation and he seemed as a person to be a very humble servant of God. This is not the point. Because when he sat on his gilded throne in his scarlet red vestments and we all took turns kneeling in front of his throne and kissing his ring, I knew there was something wrong even at 12 years of age. I am not against these men, but against a system that requires men to do things that Jesus commanded them not to do in Matt. 23.
I read an interesting statistic yesterday though cannot verify the numbers.
It said that 1 in 5 Christians in America today have left the institutional church and are meeting in some form of a house church (this may include non-denominational store-fronts like ours, I do not know for sure).
But here is the really interesting fact. They said that their surveys show that fully 1/3 of these house church members have made this switch in the last 3 months.
If this is so than we are definately experiencing a move of God in this area because no man or group could effect such a radical change in such a short time. Or you would probably say that this is the great falling away that was prophesied before the return of the Lord. You decide, but please do yourself a favor and use the Bible for the basis of your decision rather than your traditional view of how things ought to be.
Like the song says: "Jesus, I just want to be where you are".
I would like actual Scriptural quotes TOGETHER with your OBVIOUS gift for logic and reasoning, to develop your position FROM SCRIPTURE.
God's Word, with you exegeting (drawing out what teh passage says)
THAT would carry weight, with me. Even if I disagree with your interpretation.
Going back to the original post.
I think, given the evidence in scripture and history - if not Jesus' promise to "build his church" and remain with it until the end of time, as well as sending his Spirit to guide his apostles and be with them.... that we can reasonably accept that the Church was supposed to evolve in some ways, while remain the same in others, just as an acorn does definately change when it grows into a fully mature tree, but stays the same 'species'.
My umbrage with the other alternative - that Jesus' community was PERFECT and utterly unsurpassable in 33 AD, such that any and all changes were bad and thus, against his will, lies in two areas: a) proof of this is not found in the scripture and b) there is zero evidence that a non-hierarchial, non-organized movement of 'believers' has endured for very long without the 'believers' drifting apart in beliefs and in morals.
Since we're talking salvation here, it seems to me to be pretty important to find out what Our Lord's will is on this matter. Thus tight scriptural analysis is required AND coherent, complete historical record keeping...
From John's epistles we saw that keeping even the small communities of Christians on the same page in Asia Minor in 80 AD was a chore in and of itself... to say nothing of dealing with wolves in sheep's clothing sowing seeds of discord and false Gospels...
Without those communities' ability to rely on an apostle like John or Paul or Apollos to settle disputes and correct their errors, I don't see how they could have long endured. But the FACT that those communities of Galatians and Ephesians and Corinthians and Romans could and DID rely on the apostles to settle disputes points to there being a definate chain of command superceding the home churches.
There was development too - at we see in Acts with Deacons, and Paul's letters about prophets and speakers in tongues as well as interpreters of tongues... Or popular piety of Christians using hankerchiefs or clothes that merely touched Paul's body to exorcise demons.
Oops sorry, no bible quotes. Disregard everything.
Well, regarding the CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST, whose words carry more weight - yours, or Gods?
Why the resistance to making a Scriptural case? You obviously are quite capable in argumentation.
1) I don't have my bible with me
2) I don't trust my memory to do more than paraphrase or quote short bits.
3) as a Protestant you ought to have the whole book memorized anyway, so if I make an oblique reference to something (actually, following Our Lords example who didn't quote scripture citing who wrote it or even where -except once- with the Sadducees) I'm sure you recall the exact quote.
But if you insist, I'll do my best.
As I say, when we discuss God's desires in matters of spiritual importance, your comments carry more weight with me if you can cite Biblical support for your arguemnt.
Fortunately, for us all, there's this thing called the world wide interweb.
It has this site called www.biblegateway.com
From that site you can search numerous versions, using either keywords or passage references, to provide the rest of us your Biblical basis.
Hey, thanks! I learn something new on ar15 every day!