Sunday, April 26, 2009

Authority and the Church P. IV

And once again, we turn to Authority and the Church. Tim's comments will be in red and mine in black. Also, on the issue of authority and the church, I will be having a formal debate with a Roman Catholic lay apologist in the near future. We will be debating the relevance and validity of the papacy. I'm sure you can figure out what side of the debate I'll be taking up. For now, enjoy this series, and the series on Coyne.

"It is the church that makes the decisions collectively. Church discipline is done by the whole church not the group of leaders. Matt.18:17 Authority lies with the whole church, not left to its leaders exclusively."

Agreed. And some congregations understand how to go about church discipline. Others do not. So my question to you on this issue is: are you willing to spearhead a greater understanding amongst churches (house churches, and otherwise) that teaches a proper view of church discipline instead of condemning them for being ignorant?

"In asking for a king God’s people where rejecting the king that was all ready in place YHWH him self. 1 Sam.11:12 In asking for a king Samuel said that their wickedness was great in asking for a king. 1 Sam.12:17. He pointed out their sin which they acknowledged (vs 19) but also that if they continue to do wickedly they shall be consumed, both the people and their king. 1 Sam12:25 The lesson is this you reap what you sow!! Gal.6:7,8"

Again we turn to this point. I think this is probably your strongest argument, Tim. However, I do want to point something out: God allowed for a king over Israel, even though He desired otherwise. That king was a representative of God's authority. So saying, when Israel had a bad king, stuff went really, really wrong for them. Why? Because that king was not representing God's authority according to God's character. When Israel had a good king, Israel prospered, sometimes beyond our fanciest understandings. Why? Because those kings represented God's authority according to God's character.

Given the above, is there anything stopping conventional church leaders from being in the same place as the kings of old? That is, when the church has a bad leader, bad stuff happens. But when it has a good one, lots of really laudable, and praise-worthy things happen. I don't particularly see anything wrong with that.

But more poignantly, is the argument for the overthrowing of church leadership, as it seems to mirror Israel's asking for a king, an attempt to turn back time? The reason I ask is that God actually gave Israel what they asked for, even though it upset Him. If you follow that line of reasoning, why not take it all the way back to before the Fall and simply declare ourselves sinless, and demand that God come and walk amongst us?

Nevertheless, I don't want to give the impression that I'm trying to dismiss the idea of meeting in homes. I think it's perfectly valid to do so, though perhaps for different reasons. Namely, God gave us the model of the family as the most conducive to secure, and loving relationships; therefore it's ideal to welcome fellow believers into our homes, the sanctuaries of our family life. And if this satisfies the needs of a person's faith -- to meet in other Christians' homes -- then by all means, do that!

By the same token, if it satisfies the needs of other Christians' faith to meet in larger, public buildings and have a structured/liturgical/non-liturgical meeting, then again, by all means! However, it does seem somewhat foolish to exclude the family, homestyle fellowship from the faith-life of the Christian given that it is the more likely to engender the community and loving relationships that Christ desired for His people. Hence "all things are permissable, but not necessarily beneficial." But the last thing we are to do as Christians is determine out-of-hand that a given format by which our brothers and sisters worship is simply not beneficial because we can find this-that-or-the-other fault with it. We're not given licence to be presumptuous about others' faith lives because we have a different way of expressing our love for Christ.

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