Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Discussion on Church

Here is an email discussion I am having with my Mom. I am moving it here to get some others responces.
Read from the bottom up. My replys are in Italics

I believe that since God is a community God created us for community. It is part of our nature. Part of the Image of God. See my blog www.pomosalvationist.blogspot.com for a discussion of the Image of God. It has always been intended that we live in community. Evangelicals have defined salvation in very individualist terms and created a theology whereby it is possible to be in communion with God without being in community with other people. There is no part of scripture however addressed to one individual. Scripture is addressed to the communities of Faith. If we fail to journey with others we will fail to journey with God. I believe this "created for community" (see the book by Stanley J Grenz) model applies to both individuals and individual communities. Communities can not isolate themselves from other communities. Cults develop when this happens. This does not mean that denominations will exist. I actually believe denominations will loose their power. It means people will be part of multiple communities. Leaders will be in communities with other leaders, through the Internet and through live gatherings. In short we can not know or follow God on our own.

The modern evangelical model of knowing God was "quiet time." Meditation is probably a better method. This is only one method to know God. There are as many methods as there people. But community and listening to others plays a tremendous role in knowing God.

As to the role of overseer/bishop/whatever word you want to use I have some thoughts. First, who? Gender is not a qualifier. There were a number of cultural reasons why Paul forbid women to lead in Ephesus. Mostly surrounding idol worship. We know that women have taught and lead. Gender is a cultural thing. In some cultures women should not lead. In 21st century America (western world) Gender is an issue. To exclude women from equal standing with men in all leadership is paramount with discrimination. To a postmodern discrimination is a sin.

But to their role. The specific role is defined by the community. Will that person be in charge of finances, pastoral care, visitation, vision, worship, preaching, worship, ect. Also, I do not believe churches should have one person filling this role of whatever name. People are different, communities are different, leadership will be different. The only unifying thing I see is a plurality of leaders.

I am going to post this discussion in my blog. Leave any comments there and I'll reply and some other "ecclesiastical dreams" (from another blogger) will post their comments as well.

I suppose it depends on what the definition of a "local church" is. I would define it as a group of people on the journey of knowing and following God together. The one word definition is community.


sstegman@nwlink.com wrote:Hi Bill,

thanks for the response. I agree that being part of the "institutional" church does not guarantee that one is part of the Church (body of Christ). No, this isn't really about Christy. I am trying to sort out what the role of the institution church (local churches) is related to the Church (body of Christ). Do you think a person can be part of the Church and not really be part of a local church? Does being part of
the Church (being saved, seeking to know and follow God), mean a person
will be part of a local church? Scripture? And what is the purpose of the "bishop" or "overseer" in the local church?

Love you,
Mom

This gets to the heart of a definition of the church. In recent time my definition of the Church has broadened. It includes thoughts that the institutional church and the Church are not the same. Being part of the institutional church does not mean that you are part of the true church. I can not judge whether someone is part of the true church. I can say that I think there are some indicators. Someone who is part of the Church seeks to know and follow God. Also, they are in some sort of fellowship with other people on this journey. The problem comes when we acknowledge God but choose to not know God or follow God. A friend of mine has some interesting thoughts on this on his blog Dwight Scull. In short we choose whether to follow God or not. It is this choice that determines whether we are part of the Church (ie being saved) or not. My concern with Christy is that she knows God (or the version of God she inherited) yet does not want to follow what shebelieves God wants her to do. That said I think her perception of who God is is probably flawed, as is all of ours. She views following God in a very moral sense. We follow God by following his laws. This is part but following God is much more, its deeper, its a love story.
Does this help?
Any more questions?
Why do you ask?
Is it about Christy or someone else or just philosophy?



Suzanne Stegman wrote:
Hi Bill,
Can we have a discussion (email) about the local church?
I just have some questions.

You said once, that you were concerned about Christy, that she wasn't in a church and you indicated or said you thought someone couldn't be saved unless they were in a church...at least that is what I think
you were saying. Is this what you believe? If so, why? (what scriptural basis is there for that)

What is the local church anyway, and what is it supposed to be?

Thanks,
Mom

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