Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Some questions answered about what I believe concerning ecclesiology.

I have gone through a lot of transition in the last year. My way of doing church became away of being the church. I no longer can hold onto some of the traditions brought on through the I.C. .
In saying that I in no way am saying they are not Christian or that they are wrong in all ways of thinking.
No, I just feel there has been a lot of mis-representation of the scriptures throughout the years since the last Apostles were around. It seems we have added more to the body than was originally presented in the New Testament. So I would hope to clarify some of what I see in scripture compared to what has and is being taught. I am in no way a theologian so some of these thoughts and references will come from various sources as they relate to what I believe.

1. I believe that churches mostly met in homes in the New Testament. (Acts 2:46-47; 5:42; 8:3; 12:12; 16:40; 20:7-8; 20:20; Rom. 16:3-5; 1Cor. 16:19; Col. 4:15; Philemon 2; 2Jn. 9-11.

2. there were no denominations in the New Testament. They were simply the church.
3. Elders and pastors were raised up in the body and not brought in or hired by a board.
Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5
4. "Worship service" should not be a one person monologue with a worship leader. All should be allowed to participate according to scriptures. 1 Cor. 12:4-27; 14:26: Eph. 4:15-16; Rom. 12:3-8;
1 Peter 4:10-11: Heb. 10:23-25: Rom. 12:15; 1 Cor. 12:26
5. Sunday morning worship is not to be rigid. In the New Testament they were to be orderly according to 1 Corinthians, but also have open participation. Acts 20:7-12; 1Cor.14:26-31.
6. The reason for meeting is to exhort, and build up the body. Not give a 3 pointer and leave.
1Cor. 14:3,4,5,12,17,26; Ephesians 4:11-12,16; Heb. 10:24-25.
7. The church is not just to be lead by the pastor. The New Testament had a plurality of co-equal elders. Acts 14:23; 20:28; Phil. 1:1, 1 Tim.4:17; Heb. 10:17; James 5:14; 1Peter 5:1-2.
7. There were no senior pastors, associate pastors, youth pastors...Elders again were equal.
8.The modern church pays pastors. In the New Testament the elders worked at other jobs. Not saying that none were paid. Those who were paid were traveling evangelist, Apostles. Acts 20:33-35, which by the way doesn't mention "pastors" in that scripture. 1Tim. 5:17-18.
9.There was no clergy/laity distinction in the New Testament. If there is please show me. Oh yes, in Revelation it mentions something. Nicolaitons. Which God hates. It means "conquering the laity."
10. In the modern church the Lord's supper consist of a piece of cracker and a shot glass of juice.
New Testament it was a feast. Representing Christ death, but also celebrating His coming back.
Plus contrary to popular teaching they did use wine. Just don't get drunk! Drinking wine is NOT a sin. Acts 20:7; 1Cor. 11:20-21; Jude 12; Luke 22:15-18,30; 1 Cor.11:26; Acts 2:42; 1Cor. 10:16; Acts 2;46.
11. Baptism of new believers. New Testament they were baptised immediately upon confession. They did not go through a "new believers class".
12. Any Believer can baptise another believer. It is not a right held just for the elite.
13. Monologue sermons weren't the norm. In the New Testament if anyone had a teaching, song, revelation. It was given. Not just one person. Acts 20:7; 1Cor. 14:29-35.
14.Tithing! That is an Old Covenant teaching. Not a New Covenant one. It was for old Israel not new Israel. If you are a believer you are new Israel.
In the New Testament the church or body gave primarily to help the poor and assist Christian workers. They gave as anyone had need. Not just ten percent. It was voluntary! Not mandatory!
It was not for building funds, salaries for church administration. Because there were no secretaries, janitors or paid staff in the New Testament.
Deacons were servants. They were needed because there was a great influx of contributions coming into the body. So they were to help administer as needed. Deacon is not an office, just as elder is not an office. It was a servants heart that made people set out for the these functions. We all should be servants in the body. The hand has to help put food in the mouth etc.
Acts 2:44-45; Galations 6:9-10; 1John 3:17; 1Timothy 5:17_18; 1 Cor.9: 6-14; 2 Cor. 8:3; Phil. 4:15-18; Lk. 12:33-34; Eph. 4:28; James 1:27; 2Cor. 8:3-4; 9:7.

So there you go as this is what I have been struggling with. I hope with all the references many questions can be answered as to why I believe this way. I am not on a quest to convert people to the way I believe. Only God can change mens hearts. As He did mine.
The lesson is we need to know our history. Test the word!
Thank you....
I would like to credit www.greatcommissionhousechurches.org for some of the scripture references used. I would also direct anyone wanting some more info. on the subject of House Churches to log onto www.NTRF.org and look up some of the references on that site.

8 comments:

bcogbill7 said...

Point 1 "I believe that churches mostly met in homes in the New Testament"

Acts 2: 46-47; 5:42 speaks of meeting in the temple as well as houses - modern biblical churches do the same.
Acts 8:3 says Saul was ravaging the church and going in to peoples houses dragging them off and throwing them into prison - it says he was ravaging the church (the body) going in to the houses of said body and throwing said body in to prison, nowhere does it say that the church was in a house. He is placing this presupposition on the text.
Acts 12:12 just says that people were gathered there and were praying, it does not say this is where the "church" was...again reading into the text
Acts 16:40 is irrelevant because it just says people went out of prison and visited Lydia.

Acts 20:7-8 speaks of paul going to a place to speak to and encourage them because of their persecution (which is why they were forced to meet in houses sometimes), and this speaks of paul giving a prolonged monologue which is an argument that this guy says the NT church didn't have though Paul is giving one here.

Acts 20:20 says Paul taught them in public and house to house (notice the them is the same people he taught both in public and in houses; this seems to hint that people met both publically and in houses) - which biblical churches also do.

Romans 16:3-5 seems to be the only valid reference to a church in a house, which in and of itself is not a bad thing (after all many churches begin in houses because they are either to small to necessitate a building or because they fear persecution), however this does not support this form of ecclesiology, only rather says one existed (most likely for reasons above)

1 Corinthians 16:19 is a reference to the same church in Romans 16:3-5so the above argument applies here as well.

Colossians 4:15, Philemon 2 speaks of the church (ekklesia) which can sometimes mean nothing more than a gathering of believers, not necessarily a church in the formal sense of the word - they would have, were there not major obstacles, have met in the temple and in public to be taught by the apostles or another teacher, though the gathering of believers would have been elder ruled with no one having more official authority than another, though some had authority over particular the people, hence James telling them they will be held accountable for the souls of their people.

Point 3 "Elders and pastors were raised up in the body and not brought in or hired by a board"

Acts 14:23 speaks of the disciples appointing elders and pastors, so really a board did "hire" the elders/pastors - again this guy uses an argument against something that actually speaks on its behalf.

Titus 1:5 says that they are to appoint elders, true, but so that said elders can excercise authority over them teaching and rebuking for those who come in are insubordinate (v10) - it would seem obvious that those unwilling to submit to the authority of a biblical church government are the very people and reasons that it is necessary to appoint elders for, those who submit to that authority are obedient, those who do not are disobedient...it makes the distinction easier if you read this verse in the context of why those elders were appointed - again an argument for something this guy is trying to fight against

Point 4 "Worship service" should not be a one person monologue with a worship leader. All should be allowed to participate according to scriptures.

I am going to stop referencing every Scripture because you are probably tiring of reading as I am of referencing, but in these verses we do read of people participating in the service, but nowhere do we see that there should not be a leader, in fact in several places we read of one person doing the majority of the talking, reading, teaching, etc. (in fact, even if you throw out the Gospels where JC is teaching, we have 38 uses of the word didasko which is a prolongued verb of causing to learn).

Point 5 "Sunday morning worship is not to be rigid. In the New Testament they were to be orderly according to 1 Corinthians, but also have open participation...not a 3 pointer and leave"

No one would say that the worship should be rigid, disorderly, or merely a 3 pointer and leave...a biblical church would do none of these and if he is implying that a "house" church is doing this correctly when a "building" church doesn't because it meets in a building and has a structured worship is an irrelevent conclusion.

Point 8 "The modern church pays pastors. In the New Testament the elders worked at other jobs. Not saying that none were paid. Those who were paid were traveling evangelist, Apostles"

This is a non argument...the church pays pastors, paid pastors, and will pay pastors if it is able...if it is not, the pastor works at another job...this is neither an argument for or against ecclesiology.

Point 9 "There was no clergy/laity distinction in the New Testament."

There are many...elders (presbuteros - 66), pastors (poimen - 17), deacon (diakonos - 27), bishop (episkopos - 7)...its everywhere if you are willing to submit to the authority of God and the authority structure He has placed over His body...

Point 11 "Baptism of new believers. New Testament they were baptised immediately upon confession. They did not go through a "new believers class".

He forgets that the extremety of the confession one would be making...for one to confess to believe in Christ at that time would be to renounce all greek logic or hebrew mindset that a man could be God or that God would be man or that the physical and the spiritual could relate...they were saying that a human being was God and that He died, but not only that, He was dead three days and rose again and He paid for their sin...they could not earn their salvation...the Gospel was new and revolutionary, it wasn't the easy believism we see today...people were killed for believing this so one would not make this claim lightly...if someone said it, you had no reason to doubt them for they had nothing to gain but death and humiliation...now we have these "classes" because the "gospel" is so prevalent and there are so many false motives for one making a profession...for us to keep the church pure and set apart, we must make sure that those claiming believe actually possess it...the same reason we practice church discipline...

Part 14 "Tithing! That is an Old Covenant teaching. Not a New Covenant one...In the New Testament the church or body gave primarily to help the poor and assist Christian workers. They gave as anyone had need. Not just ten percent. It was voluntary! Not mandatory"

He is right...to an extent...tithing is ten percent, and that was an old covenant teaching...however, the New Testament believers gave ALL they had, not just ten percent...ten percent is the minimum...we don't mandatorily give ten percent...we give more because it is all Gods...tithing is less of a command and more of: if you aren't tithing something is wrong with your heart...tithing, for the believer, isn't a question and therefore isn't mandated, but if you aren't giving at least ten percent then the issue isn't with the 10% so much as the witholding of something from God to whom all belongs.

I am posting this as a reply to a friends email that said his ecclesiology lined up with this article. If the structure is too casual I apologize, but I didn't feel like going back and rewriting everything. Prayerfully search God's Word, not reading proofs into the text, but submitting to the entirety of the NT, and seek counsel on it from people other than those in the movement. There is a reason that God has placed authority in His Church. The church, especially in America, needs more submission to the will of God and His Word, not less. The idea that there should be no authority, discipline, teaching pastor, etc is a prideful American phenomena that is ballooning the more we feed our pride and sense of self sufficiency. Love you man, and we will be praying for yall.

bcogbill7 said...

This should be first, sorry, I have never done this before. I am posting this as a reply to a friends email that said his ecclesiology lined up with this article. If the structure is too casual I apologize, but I didn't feel like going back and rewriting everything. Prayerfully search God's Word, not reading proofs into the text, but submitting to the entirety of the NT, and seek counsel on it from people other than those in the movement. There is a reason that God has placed authority in His Church. The church, especially in America, needs more submission to the will of God and His Word, not less. The idea that there should be no authority, discipline, teaching pastor, etc is a prideful American phenomena that is ballooning the more we feed our pride and sense of self sufficiency. Love you man, and we will be praying for yall.

Phillip Fletcher said...

Bcogbill7, Sir,

1. If I can get a better understanding of where you are coming from because you laid out alot of good Scriptures; how does the Scripture define the "church?" This impacts the remaining discussion.

2. Where is the temple that modern biblical churches meet in today? I reference back to this comment you made: "Acts 2: 46-47; 5:42 speaks of meeting in the temple as well as houses - modern biblical churches do the same."

Hope to hear from you,

Phillip

SOwen said...

bcogbill7,
I would first like to say thank you for commenting on this post. That is what it is about a good biblical discussion. Iron sharpening Iron.
I will now respond to your second comment.
You said, "prayerfully search God's word, not reading into the text..."
I would like to say that I have and am. I am searching, praying and seeking God to make sure I am not getting off base on any of my beliefs. My heart is bent toward the Lord and humbly submitting to Him. This is not something I just started to believe.
You also stated that I should seek counsel from people other than those in this movement.
With all do respect. It is not a movement. That is a label placed by those who are opposed to what the Lord seems to be doing, because it goes against all the teachings of those who have brought to the place we are now in the I.C. .
I do and always seek Godly counsel on all issues. I am in fellowship with men and ladies from the house church groups and I.C. groups. I have not "left" the I.C. as I still am learning about the scriptures. I have and am researching this with due diligence. I don't jump into something without first knowing the background.
I have not ever said that I am against authority. What is said is the way "authority" is set up in the I.C. has been abused and mis interpreted. Elders, deacons etc. are biblical. They are not to be dictators. Also how much church discipline have you experienced in the current church structure. How can you rightfully discipline someone when all you know of them is there hand and the back of their head. In the home setting you will actually have a better opportunity to know the people better. Granted not always, but more likely than in the I.C..
This is not an American pride issue. It is a move that God has started every since Jesus died on the cross.
Let me ask you what would be wrong with calling this a move of God and another church having a conference called "The True Church" conference. Which is more prideful in that setting. I am not for being divisive. It is a situation of life. The body is life, not just a number or place. Jesus died for HIS church not just a church.
I am open to having an open discussion on any of these topics.
I am not hiding what I believe and know to be correct.

Lionel Woods said...

Bo,

Let me show you some glaring holes in your discussion here. I am going to attempt to go by point, I won't tackle every point as I don' know if they are important in engaging you on a dialogue. I look forward to your responses. Not to mention I am in the Dallas area so we may can meet. Also know that I am a New Covenant, 5 Pointer, A-mill believer so though you may disagree with my position on Israel and Eschatology we stand on common ground (and maybe we differ on a Redemptive-Historical Hermeneutic).

1. As we see the church meeting in the temple we have to read both Luke and Acts as two series in the same story. Would you agree would that? Given that fact, we see that initially Christianity is an extension of Judaism is that correct? Given that fact meeting in a temple would have been the natural thing to do as Jews; however, when Christianity becomes a threat in Acts 8 where do we see the church meeting from that point forward. Not to mention 98% of Paul's letters address churches meeting in homes. Is this necessary today? Maybe, maybe not, but your emphasis on the "temple" either shows a false dichotomy between Luke’s historical documentation or you don't understand the transition and the future tension between Judaism and Christianity.

2. Actually Paul is going to houses where Churches were meeting (this was the best opportunity to get the most Christians)and dragging them off to prison. I don't understand what you are talking about with the preposition.

3. I think Phillip already asked you, but how are you viewing the church? These were churches meeting in homes. At first they attempted to meet in "Solomon's Portico" but once persecution came that met SOLELY in homes. Not to mention we have to keep in mind that in Acts the church is highly evangelistic.

4. Where do you see a prolonged "monologue" in Acts 20 Sir? The word used there is "dialegomai" where you obviously know we get our word dialogue from. Not to mention that word is translated everywhere else as "reason" "dispute" "argue". So how you get a "prolonged monologue" from that seems to have no biblical evidence.

5. Wow! You read into public "church building". That is amazing. How about we read what was going on in. We know that Paul rented the Hall of Tyrannus and would work in the morning and preach there at night. Isn't this what Paul meant? Where is there any hint towards a church building there?

6. Actually 1 Corinthians 16, Philemon and Colossians are "all" valid references. I don't know why you say Romans 16 is the only one. What do you do with those other ones? Not to mention Gaius obviously had a church in his home and may be the only meeting place for the Corinthians.

7. Actually your statement about "it being the same house" is incorrect. Priscilla and Aquila, lived in Rome, Ephesus and Corinth and each place may have had a church the only place up for debate is Corinth. Not to mention they most likely hosted a church in Jerusalem after the edict to leave Rome was given.

8. You talk a great deal about adding "prepositions" tell me this where do you read "exercise authority" anywhere in Titus? Can you show me that please Sir? Not to mention what do you do with the words of Jesus in Matthew 20:24-28 and Matthew 23:1-11? I am curious do you take the words of our Lord seriously?

9. Wow you use Greek terms quite loosely you read into didasko "prolonged learning". It simply means teach. With no timeframe on the teaching. You missed me totally on this one.

10. Let me ask you Bo, what do you do with Paul's commands to the Ephesians elders in Acts 20 around verse 32? He tells them to work with their hands like him and to give and not to receive? Not to mention 1 Corinthians 9 is speaking of Apostles who receive pay (Peter, Barnnabas and Paul) is nowhere close to dealing with local elders! You don't believe in modern day Apostles do you? To superimpose "pastor" on 1 Corinthians 9 is to be exegetically unfaithful.

11. Where does the bible says you or anyone else is to keep the church "pure"? Can you show me the scripture that says that Sir? Jesus says let the wheat and tares come up together. Do you believe your church is 100% regenerate? Wow! And you think the regurgitation of biblical facts is an adequate test of that? LOL!!! That is the funniest thing you said yet. Being a Calvinist (I assume) Jesus only died for His bride so she can only be pure. Your local expression is to institute discipline for gross sins and to teach the word faithfully, but keep it pure? Again you speak a great deal about the bible with little biblical support.

12. Where is the believer to "tithe" Bo? To the local church? Can you show me exegetically where you would come to such a conclusion? In Acts 4 they gave to one another, not a 20 million dollar building while other believers across the world had nothing to eat. As a matter of fact the Church of Philippi gave to the Church at Jerusalem, however, we erect buildings and pay elaborate salaries while other churches may have to turn in their building. Acts 4 is an indictment against American even "biblical" (as you call it) Churches. Not to mention the tithe was a tax to a "theocracy" the money was given to fund the temple, feed the priests and to keep Israel functioning as such. We currently pay a "tithe" to our democracy and our giving beyond that is to meet the real needs of the body of Christ not fabricated needs such as, mortgages, landscaping, "worship" leaders _______ fill in the blank.

Finally where do you see in this post that there is to be no leaders and no discipline. Again show me one scripture in the bible where a man is to have authority over a church! If you can then Jesus is a liar and there are obvious contradictions in the bible. Not to mention "teaching pastor" is a western phenomenon. Where is there a "teaching pastor" anywhere in the scriptures, or a "worship pastor" or a "youth pastor" or any other pastor? Pastoring is a gift of the Spirit and is a function not some title or position in the local body!

On an end note where do you believe we don't want to submit to the entire New Testament. Actually that is what we want to do. We just don't want to submit to your interpretation of it. Unless you believe MacArthur, Piper, Sproul..... have infallibility (seems closer to Rome than it does the Reformation doesn't it)?

I close with this. We love biblical leadership. We want to submit to the mature brothers who God has gifted to handle the word and provide spiritual care (it is funny that a man gets a pass from shepherding if he has great oratory skills, that doesn't seem like what Paul was talking about in 1 Thess 2 or the definition of a "shepherd"). We love and respect and submit to God's word, we care about discipleship, church discipline (which is a joke today because there is very little relationship), believe it or not we care about doctrine and theology. The problem is the glue that holds us together is Christ! We see the church as a family not some organization with rigid rules and liturgy to follow. If the New Testament has no such thing why should I add to it? You do uphold the 5 Solas correct? Isn't one of them the mantra "Sola Scriptura". If so then give us more biblical support brother.

Steven Owen said...

bcogbill7,
A few other things I didn't put on the new post.
You stated that I forget the extremety of the confession one would be making...
With all due respect I didn't and don't forget that. I am saying that if someone truly has a heart change and wants to be baptized now don't wait. The Ethiopian didn't wait. I understand the issue of easy believism. If you will look at the post before this one you would see my opinion of that false doctrine. Another example of something that has been added to the church by a man. Who are we to judge false motives in the body by denying someone being baptized. Wouldn't that fall into the Lords hands as only He knows mens hearts?
Tithing issue. I am for giving all. We are to be cheerful in our giving. We are to give not out of complusion, but from a giving heart. This is an issue that is being abused in the modern church. Another example of men corrupting a wonderful and precious thing God has for us.
Sir please read through my blog and see where I am in all of my church beliefs. I still hold onto strong reformed doctrine, I believe in the full counsel of God. It is not something I take lightly.
Sincerely, Steven Owen

bcogbill7 said...

I can see a few people have responded since last night, and there are so many I do not know where to begin, nor do I have time to do so. However, I would like to say that, in general, it seems as though the house church movement is "throwing the baby out with the bath water." I understand that the modern church, especially in America, has more than a few glaring holes. It is completely understandable that this movement has caught fire, but the poor state of American "churches" is no reason to throw out obvious Scriptural teaching and the tradition/teachings of history. I know that people don't like to follow tradition, but don't throw it out for the sake of bucking tradition, and don't be reactionary in your ecclesiology. Join a local, biblical congregation and purify it from within. I do not have time to go back and forth on here, and I apologize. I just was trying to steer my friend clear of this movement and the dangers that lie within. I copied and pasted because I thought it was important to see that whoever wrote this post wasn't engaging the facts, but was imposing presuppositions on the Text. Sorry for taking up your time, and I look forward to seeing y'all in Heaven! SOLI DEO GLORIA!

Steven Owen said...

bcogbill7-
Yes as you can see a few people have commented on this topic and your comment.
In general no one has thrown the baby out with the bath water sir.
I again would not claim this a movement in the way that you are meaning. I will say that it is a movement from the very traditions and history you mentioned. Only becuase those traditions are from men. We are told not to hold onto mans traditions. As my other blog post states this is a continuation of the reformation. Plus this is not a new movement because house churches have been around in America for along time. If not for the advent of the internet it would be very well known. You may be surprised by how many have been around meeting in homes all the while we were driving by them to go to an organized building. Sir I came out of a local biblical congregation as that is what the Lord has led me to do. Again I still fellowship with the brethren there I just don't meet with them on Sunday mornings. What is any different from what I posted and you state as presuppositions compared to what you are saying? Are yours full and factual? We are in a scriptural dialogue and there is nothing wrong about that. I am not here to sing a song of who is right and who is wrong. Do the research and see for yourself. History has been known to be wrong. We can't depend on history as an example of how to do church. No we must seek God and His word. What does He want not what do we want. Granted there are those out in the U.S. house church fellowships that hold to wrong beliefs. But don't label us all as being wrong just because we dont conform to what you think is correct. Your friend I hope will do as the word says and test everything with the word. Sir are you testing everything you hear from the pulpit. There are many false teachers in the pulpits of America. With all due respect I completely welcome you to be apart of my blog anytime. You are loved in the Lord.
Just please don't label this as wrong.
Paul thought he was doing God a favor when he was persecuting the church. Then what happened?
Thank you....