Monday, April 21, 2008

Mike’s “Perfect Church” Deconstruction Part II

Before I venture on, deconstructing Church history, I must add that I have a tremendous respect for many historical Christians. This includes the great thinkers and leaders such as Augustine and Luther as well as the very-early Church fathers. Actually the very early fathers (such as who wrote the Nicene Creed) had a much better grip on the effects of Gnostic Dualism than their modern Church counterparts.

With that said I am prepared to reduce the essentials down to simple Biblical mandates as a starting place. If you still doubt my first step, the deconstruction of Church history, go to scripture and read what it says about tradition. Most of the New Testament references to tradition (different than the Fiddler on the Roof father) are not flattering. Tradition is just another name for the art of taking our Church history as its mandate. For example believing, “If it has always been done that way, then God has thus ordained it.”

We are now back to scripture, with nothing more but the word of God and a tabula rosa. Then we have to separate out, within scripture that which God has given as a mandate and that as a historical record. Sometimes Christians confuse the two. On the first hand, scripture, through the voices of the prophets, God Himself, or Christ . . . we are instructed as what to do. In the second case, it is a historical statement about what was done.

So, when Paul speaks in Timothy or Philippians about deacons, it is not a mandate that all churches have deacons. It is given as a historical example of how to solve the problem of needing food servers, but nowhere does it say the Church must have deacons to be a church.

There are other such historical references to overseers, pastors and the like. If you read verses such as I Peter 5:2 you will see that it is clear they there is no mandate that there are overseers.

But common sense tells us that there must be a hierarchy and the scriptures give us good example to emulate but not mandates.

So what is mandated? The only real mandate that I can find is to not forsaking getting together, but to meet and to ENCOURAGE one another . . . period. There’s no mandate for buildings, frequency of meetings, which day to meet on etc. Most church doctrine, when it comes to these issues of form, is inferred. However, my good friends will argue with me until they are blue in their kind faces that their church structure is from God and the only one that is really from God.

When that establish, I will move on to the more practical things that would appeal to me in my ideal church.

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