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Thread: Assembly vs. Church

  1. #21
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    One More Correction

    Grebel has stated in evaluation of what I said:

    I agree their pacifist theology was far off base BUT what do you suggest the anabaptists should have done? Remember Balthasar Hubmaier? He was one of the few "anabaptists" that believed in the use of the sword. I'm sorry, but I think your rip on the anabaptists is wrong. They weren't perfect, but neither were our reformation darlings Luther, Calvin and Zwingli..

    We are not both using 'pacifist theology' to mean the same thing, which is my fault, since I didn't clarify my meaning.

    Pacifism (non-violence) is a term often used to describe the views of those who refuse to participate in any type of war, regardless of the 'just' nature of what the war consists of. Although I do believe that most of the Anabaptists fell into this category (in their behaviour), this action is a 'symptom' and not the 'essence' of a broader pacifist theolgy.

    No--considering the circumstances, I believe it would have been most foolish for Anabaptists to take up the sword. Use of the sword is never valid to defend Christian belief, only to restrain the evils of murder and barbary. But the correct and non-violent activity does not justify their pacifist theolgy, which caused their enemies to view them as anarchists.

    Pacifist and Dominion theology are opposites. In dominion theology, the 'church' is to conquer the world for Christ with the power of law, prosecution, sword, and any other necessary means. This view would attempt to merge the present kingdoms of this world with the kingdom of Christ, as if the two were one.

    Only Thomism is pure dominion theology. Augustine and the Calvinistic reformers taught a partial dominion theology. Luther moved away from it in theory--with a correct teaching of the two kingdoms, however, in practice Germany ended up being a state-church government like the others.

    In contrast, pacifist theology totally separates the kingdoms of this world from the kingdom of Christ, and proposes that citizens of the heavenly kingdom can have no involvement whatsoever in the earthly realm. Human government is viewed as strictly the realm of the devil, as well as other aspects of earthly life. This is why the enemies of the Anabaptists refer to them as anarchists, fairly or unfairly. Unfairly to some degree, because they did not seek to rebel against the government. Fairly in the sense that they strictly considered themselves to be non-citizens of any human state--thus the implication is that human laws did not apply to them.

    Verduin correctly points out examples of Anabaptists that denied aspects of pacifist theology. However, I believe that he has overstated his case. The majority were clearly into it.

    What could they have done to change things? The same thing that all of us must do, adjust our thinking, teaching, and lives to conform to the gospel.

    This will be my last post on this topic in this thread, since another thread is already into discussing it.
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

  2. #22
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    Practical Application

    so if it is indeed impossible to change this term and to get it into the heads of the masses that EKKLHSIA is the church (KURIOKOS) then what are we to do practically? how can we impact those under the spell of churchianity? what are we to do when we are among the minions who have bought the lie about the the assembly is? i'm just looking for some practical application to this dilemma...to get some brainstorming going as to "how then shall we live?"
    When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
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    A room without books is a body without soul.
    --Cicero

  3. #23
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    Doug:

    so if it is indeed impossible to change this term and to get it into the heads of the masses that EKKLHSIA is the church (KURIOKOS) then what are we to do practically? how can we impact those under the spell of churchianity? what are we to do when we are among the minions who have bought the lie about the the assembly is? i'm just looking for some practical application to this dilemma...to get some brainstorming going as to "how then shall we live?"
    My kind of question! I am always concerned with "what I am going to do about it?" rather than simply pointing to the problem.

    Here is what I do, for what it is worth.

    I do not allow the concept of "organization" versus "organism" to impose its ideas on me. I do not accept the fact that the term "church" has to be changed among the world which we call here "churchianity". That would be almost begging for papacy, or for a pope. I simply teach my half a dozen of 3 or 4 every week who come to hear me speak wherever I may be speaking.

    I could not care less for what "churchianity" is doing. I apply a certain degree of "spiritual" terrorism. I go to the small cells of the real body of Christ with some "bombs" of teaching strapped around me and I explode them in due time. I "positively poison" these people with what I perceive as good teaching and let them go back to their own "churchianity" and change it from inside out without any demands for it.

    One very interesting thing about Paul when he writes to Timothy is that he describes all the heresies and heretics of his days, warns Tim about them and then he commands: But thou, preach the word! You Tim, devote yourself in spreading the truth and let truth have its own penetrating power.

    I pursue the changing of the "church" as institution mentalilty into a more "congress", "assembly", or "koinonia" idea in my small groups when I have them passively waiting for some teaching, or when God allows me to preach to large crowds. Then I pray to God and beg Him to find me faithful and whatever they do with my message is no longer my responsibility!

    Would to God that all of us, when confronted with error, founded and grounded in the vernacular of the institutionalized world or not, would ask the question you asked!

    It is not necessarily what we "do not know" that often destroy us! It is what we do know and do not apply. Bad traditions and bad theology can only spread when those who see the problem and illumined by the Holy Spirit with the truth will wait for some lightining from heaven, some methaphysical sign to understand that this illumination, this knowledge, has a purpose!
    Not paraphrasing anyone else, but, this knowledge is a weapon of mass instruction. We, however, have fallen victimized by weapons od mass distraction and often fail to teach, fervently, and constantly what God has entrusted to us!

    This is my simple way to answer your question.
    Sorry if this sounds emotional. It sounds, perhaps it is loaded with it but is not purely irrational emotion. Your short commentary inspired me since it is my kind of question!

    Milt
    Grace Ambassador
    A pitiful servant of God; a pitbull guardian of the message of Grace

    My pledge to other members:
    A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. Prov 15:1
    A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver - Prov. 25:11

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    Originally posted by GraceAmbassador
    I could not care less for what "churchianity" is doing. I apply a certain degree of "spiritual" terrorism. I go to the small cells of the real body of Christ with some "bombs" of teaching strapped around me and I explode them in due time. I "positively poison" these people with what I perceive as good teaching and let them go back to their own "churchianity" and change it from inside out without any demands for it.
    i love you man! you are so awesomely politically incorrect in your metaphors. i've come to really enjoy your preaching 'round these parts!

    This is my simple way to answer your question.
    Sorry if this sounds emotional. It sounds, perhaps it is loaded with it but is not purely irrational emotion. Your short commentary inspired me since it is my kind of question!
    i've come to expect great preaching like this from you. this is exactly what i was looking for with just the right amount of emotionalism (which i view as passion and not emotion). thanks for your very encouraging response. and keep up the good preaching!
    When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
    --Erasmus

    A room without books is a body without soul.
    --Cicero

  5. #25
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    My 'Tidbit'

    I also thank you Milt, as I know I have indicated a hundred times--both here and on the other 2 boards we participated in several years ago. But your style of grace preaching has blessed my own soul beyond anything I could have ever asked the Lord for--or thanked him in advance!

    I will give my 'stab' at answering Doug's difficult question:

    so if it is indeed impossible to change this term and to get it into the heads of the masses that EKKLHSIA is the church (KURIOKOS) then what are we to do practically? how can we impact those under the spell of churchianity? what are we to do when we are among the minions who have bought the lie about the the assembly is? i'm just looking for some practical application to this dilemma...to get some brainstorming going as to "how then shall we live?"

    This refers to the ever-consuming question of practical ministry vs. mere profession and ideas. Change in this area or a host of others is only possible with a miracle of God. First comes prayer. I don't mean 'prayers of petition' primarily. We must confess to the Lord our absolute admiration of and submission to his sovereign glory. He has secured our salvation in and through Christ's person and work. Circumstances often seem hopeless. We have no proof or clear evidence that God will radically change things in our time or generation. Yet we hope that he will work a miracle and pray for his working.

    There is no 'step by step' method that will solve this. We can only saturate our minds with the truth of the gospel and cast ourselves helplessly and totally on the Lord. He often works when all else has failed and we have no 'brilliant' solutions of our own.

    Many in the past have failed in practical ministry. We have recently talked a lot about the Reformers and their sacralism. I will have more to say on this issue. Basically, Luther was given light that was in advance of anyone we have in print since the beginning of the great apostasy. On a LOT of critical matters essential to the salvation of the nations. But his light died, for the most part, in practical ministry. The Lord severely judged his support of state-church murder and intolerance. Before his death, he saw Wittenburg and a great proportion of the German populace (under his watch) deteriorate into a most awful state of sexual immorality, alcoholism, and spiritual depravity. This shows us, more than anything else, the futility of the Constantinian notion of a sacral church-state. Calvin experienced the exact reverse consequences, with the same sobering conclusions. He supported the burning of Servetus but spared Socinus and his cohorts. These afterward plagued the 'morally blameless' and 'biblically literate' Swiss with the most godless and gospel-denying heresies that totally nullifed any Calvinistic advances. The Lord always proves that he will not defend the Christless deeds of his most orthodox saints!

    We simply need to pray for a New Reformation and submit ourselves to that cause of God. Not only 'continuing reformation' with a 'tongue-in-cheek' desire to maintain the status quo. Until that happens, nothing else will change anything significant, either in the realm of gospel purity or ministry living out the implications of the gospel.

    More to say soon, after I have time to review all that has been said in the last few days!
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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    I shall start a crusade to start pronouncing James properly as Jacobus
    For whatever strength of arm he may have who swims in the open sea, yet in time he is carried away and sunk, mastered by the greatness of its waves. Need then there is that we be in the ship, that is, that we be carried in the wood, that we may be able to cross this sea. Now this Wood in which our weakness is carried is the Cross of the Lord, by which we are signed, and delivered from the dangerous tempests of this world.--St. Augustine

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    Re: Assembly vs. Church - practical implications

    I am hoping this thread can get back to discussing the practicalities of how we could move away from institutionalised church to the true ekklesia and what that should look like.

    BT said:
    There is no 'step by step' method that will solve this. We can only saturate our minds with the truth of the gospel and cast ourselves helplessly and totally on the Lord.

    I agree with this but I think we ought to be able at least to think about what an ekklesia should and shouldn't look like.

    Some things to think about:
    1. Elders who are devoted to the Word of God and prayer rather than to ruling and controlling
    2. Local gatherings of believers rather than mega-churches
    3. Unity in the true gospel and tolerance of divergence of views on non-soteriological essentials such as baptism
    4. No need for formal "membership" because of the small numbers, the close fellowship and godly judging


    Also, BT you said about Luther:
    Before his death, he saw Wittenburg and a great proportion of the German populace (under his watch) deteriorate into a most awful state of sexual immorality, alcoholism, and spiritual depravity. This shows us, more than anything else, the futility of the Constantinian notion of a sacral church-state.
    But does it? Or does it simply show that there was more freedom than when the tyrants from Rome ruled and supressed man's worst excesses? (By-the-way, just so there's no confusion, not for one minute do I support the notion of a sacral church-state)

    For the new Reformation!
    Martin

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    Re: Assembly vs. Church

    Dear Martin,

    I agree with your 4 points!

    On Luther and his times, I certainly agree with you that the immoral state of German society after Papal rule may be interpreted to have resulted from greater 'freedom' than what existed previously. But my point is that this fact does not constitute the whole story. It is critical (in my mind) to recognize that God judged Germany with increasing immorality for its sacral sin. Just like he judged Geneva with Socinian heresy (though it remained a 'moral' society) for the same thing.

    We cannot expect that God would restrain from pouring out his wrath on the wicked spirit and acts of persecuting the saints (however lowly and weak in certain doctrines that many of them were).
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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    Re: Assembly vs. Church - Elders

    I am suggesting that the biblical model for Elders is that they are "devoted to the Word of God and prayer rather than to ruling and controlling". Anyone disagree?

    Some of the problems I see today:

    Often the person elected to Elder may be judged appropriate based upon some combination of their intellect/eloquence/confidence in public speaking/knowledge of scriptures/Godly life. I would dispute eloquence and confidence in public speaking. Often these characteristics come with a degree of pride and arrogance. I would suggest humility would be a better attribute to look for. Such people are often also what the world calls "control freaks" who want to rule and control such matters as whether someone can contribute a book for others to read. At the heart of the matter is a failure to recognise that the biblical role of Elder is not to manage, rule or control.

    Allied to this is a traditional model of a church meeting with some people, clearly in charge, stood up at the front with everyone else looking at them which serves to confirm this model of leadership in everyone's minds whereas scriptures speak of meetings where everyone has a contribution.

    Another problem is that part of human nature seems to involve having someone to "look up to". Many new Christians take their struggles and problems in private to those who seem to be leaders. I don't see how we can or necessarily want to get away from this though.

    Just some initial thoughts.

    Martin

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    Re: Assembly vs. Church

    Hi, I'm new here and wanted to comment concerning house church. I wasn't sure where this ought to go, but this thread title seemed the most appropriate. As a new member, I didn't feel comfortable jumping in here by starting a new thread, so here goes.

    I came across Mr. Erkel's article in the library on this subject, and noticed where he said, "We must remember the words of John Newton: 'Let not him who worships under a steeple condemn him who worships under a chimney.'" From that point, he makes occasional remarks which tell what is wrong with the churches and what is right with the house churches. Seems to me the quote he brought up should have a reciprocal truth, "Let not him who worships under a chimney condemn him who worships under a steeple."

    I'll admit I haven't had any experience or interaction with house church, and only one real contact with someone involved in house church. He was a co-worker who would occasionally speak to me about it and bring me a newsletter from the loose association of about a half-dozen house churches, an association with which he was affiliated. It turned out the group was headed up by a former Southern Baptist minister, and his comments were the ones most prominent in this newsletter, which was mainly a tool used as a polemic against the institutional church. I could not help being reminded of the tone of that newsletter as I read the Erkel article, although at least the article here was much milder in tone and content than the newsletter.

    It just strikes me as an approach that is in error from the start when we begin approaching this topic with an adversarial label like "Assembly vs. Church." Isn't wisdom justified of all her children?

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    Re: Assembly vs. Church

    Quote Originally Posted by Mxyzptlk
    It just strikes me as an approach that is in error from the start when we begin approaching this topic with an adversarial label like "Assembly vs. Church." Isn't wisdom justified of all her children?
    welcome to the forums Mxyzptlk! i hope you enjoy your stay.

    great comments. i believe that mt 7:1-5 applies in all cases. charity must not only be taken but also must be given.

    but this thread was specifically addressing the issue of the translation of the greek word EKKLHSIA. in other words, should it be translated "church" or something else.

    but your point about the position of anti-institutional church and anti-house church advocates is a good one. actually, judging/condemning must go neither way since there is no explicit command or even a consistent pattern on place of worship in Scripture. if Scripture is silent on an issue, so should we be. but if Scripture speaks clearly on an issue, then so should we.

    thanks again for the comments Mxyzptlk.
    When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.
    --Erasmus

    A room without books is a body without soul.
    --Cicero

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