Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Authority and the Church P. V

This is a rather long series, isn't it? Well, it was quite a long debate, to be honest. So here's part V. There will be several more parts to come. Enjoy!

Tim. Christopher.

"What are the reasons for the way Church has become? The traditions of men have nullified the word of God. Matt .15:6-9"

This is only true if a) the Word of God is not being preached, taught, and lived; and b) if those traditions are considered binding without the support of Scripture (indulgences, for example, or disallowing dancing, or prohibiting alcohol).

It is most emphatically not true that voluntary participation in traditions, such as the liturgy, is a hinderance to the faith-life of a Christian and his communication with our Lord.

"They have patterned themselves after the world and not after Christ. Col.2:8"

Who is 'they' in this passage, Tim? Or in other words, in what way are you intending to use this passage of Scripture to back your perspective?

"beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ."

That's all fine and stuff, but it has no real bearing on this conversation unless you can somehow provide some context for your use of this Scripture.

It can very well be argued that the Scripture you cited is an argument against the heretical sects, and pagan religions present at the time Paul wrote, even currently. It could also be a warning against the philosophies of pleasure (hedonism, and epicurianism) rampant amongst the affluent members of society at the time and, again, currently.

How are you using this passage? If you state that you're using this passage against the leadership of conventional churches, then you need to qualify it. Simply throwing Scripture at me doesn't make a defense of your position; it sets up the expectation that I have to intuit your meaning from a hodge-podge of passages, and somehow waive-off the fact that you seemed to have used 'proof-texting' as your method of argumentation.

"They regard the traditions of the world above the scriptures. Celebrating Babylonians feasts such as Easter and Christmas."
Again, who is 'they'?

Now, you've listed two traditions: the celebration of Christmas, and Easter. You've called them 'Babylonian', I'm assuming because of their approximate resemblance to mid-east mithraic customs, and pagan festivities reflecting fertility cycles (winter=death; spring=life). Simple question: do you think that reclaiming certain celebratory ideas for Christ is wrong?

In any case, perhaps you could explain why celebrating the birth, death, and resurrection of Christ is 'Babylonian', or wrong? I'm intensely curious about your point of view on this issue, to be honest.

"Unbiblical hierarchal leadership that takes titles to themselves (Reverend, Pope, His holiness) with top down authority with every one else beneath them. Jesus called this the Nicolaitan doctrine which things he hates. Rev.2:15"

Yeah, titles are a bit of a bore. They certainly don't have any compelling authority in and of themselves, and lots of people disregard them even though they've been given them. Nevertheless, you've incorrectly identified the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, who were to the best of our knowledge a sect of hedonists (people who seek pleasure as the highest good). The Catholic Encyclopedia notes the following from Irenaeus, the single-most influential scholar and early church minister from about AD 120:
Catholic Encyclopedia wrote:
Irenaeus (Adv. haer., I, xxvi, 3; III, xi, I) discusses them but adds nothing to the Apocalypse except that "they lead lives of unrestrained indulgence."
So saying, there is historically nothing to do with the Nicolaitans that has anything to do with top-down authority. In fact, they were a small, short-lived, chaotic group of pleasure seekers with very little authoritarianism except that authority that is pleasure. Your use of Scripture in this instance is misplaced, and doesn't support your premise that the authority excercised by heirarchical church governments is ungodly.

"The people themselves love to have it this way."
Which 'people'?

"(the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so; and what will ye do in the end thereof? Jer.5:31)"

1. You've used this passage out of context. Jeremiah was talking about people belonging to false religions, doing evil deeds, and having prophets and priests to endorse the false religions and evil deeds. That's not on parallel with churches today having a governmental structure where priests, or pastors preach the Word of God regularly, regardless of their ignorance on other matters.

2. I hardly think people being ignorant of different ways of meeting together for fellowship qualifies as false prophesy, or obstinate and purposeful disregard for God's desire that we should fellowship in our homes.

"They would rather have a man stand up front and lead them while they are passive instead of seeking and following the Lord for themselves. This is why this kind of gathering fosters spiritual infants."

That's a mutually enabling relationship, Tim. By that I mean that each one is at fault for his/her own 'spiritual infancy', or laziness. It is an improper model of relationship between believers, for sure, but doesn't qualify either the leaders or the congregants (gatherers) as having evil intent, or being blasphemers, or that they as individuals are in disobedience of God. They may be, but we don't know, and we can't assume that based on the form that they choose for gathering. To do so would be a direct transgression of the 8th Commandment (as I mentioned earlier), "do not bear false witness against your neighbour."
"This nation is a nation that obey not the voice of the Lord their God, nor receiveth correction: truth is perished and is cut off from their mouth. Jer. 7:28"

Again, you've taken Scripture out of context. This passage is in the larger context of Jeremiah being told by God to tell the Hebrews of his generation that they were worse than their fathers who were brought out of Egypt. If you want to apply it to the church today, then give the Scripture some context within your argument. Otherwise, all that's left for me to say is, "okay. So?"

But besides that, how do you reconcile the fact that there are thousands of churches daily applying the Word of God, preaching the Word of God, and giving godly counsel, and that this Scripture is not universally applicable to all believers? 'Cause if it is, my friend, you're guilty of the same thing you're charging others of.

On a different note, Tim, I would like to re-focus this discussion. If you would be willing, it would be a more beneficial use of our time, and conversation if we could agree on a specific topic to look at. Right now, there are several topics at hand: leadership, heirarchy, qualifications to leadership, and contextualization of Scripture to present day. All of these topics are huge in and of themselves, and I'd like to deal with each of them in a more focused manner; that would lend integrity to the topics, which are important to both you, and me.

So my proposal is this: let's discuss what the nature of religious authority actually is. Where is authority derived from? How is it best used? Are Christian leaders vested with specific authority to lead, teach, and make decisions for the betterment of Christians near them? Etc.

1 comment:

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