Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Position-Expedient Authority vs. Servant-Example Authority: One is Unnecessary

Elder Led Consensus Video

They are as different from each other as the world is from the church.

I feel that those who advocate a hybrid of 'Position-Servant Authority' advocate a mixing of the world with the church.

Here are the differences between 'Position-Expediency' (P-EA) and 'Servant-Example' Authority (S-EA) as I see them:

Position-Expedient Authority (what we have today in churches of Christ) divides the body of Christ based on unequal status. Servant-Example Authority (what I believe is found in 1 Peter 5:1-7 and the rest of the NT) unifies the body of Christ based on equal status, but acknowledges spiritual gifts of young and old alike.

P-EA creates a separate class of Christians. S-EA includes all Christians. There is no need to ask the question "why give qualifications for elders and deacons?" in disbelief when the purpose for their qualities is to set the example for all to follow in serving others when needs arise. If one must have a type of "directive" authority to meet the needs of others (Acts 6), then others may be persuaded to help that leader (elder/deacon) based on his character--not because they are fearful or have been shamed into 'obeying' them. If that elder or deacon cannot persuade others to help him meet the need, then maybe he needs to change his behavior, or perhaps the problem is with the followers.

P-EA allows for misbehavior to often remain unchecked/unchallenged and unchanged. S-EA demands that behavior remain blameless, because one must be a doer of the work--not a 'constant delegating authority' of others who do the work. Wisdom and advice from those no longer able to do what they formally could may persuade the younger.

P-EA allows for men to make laws in addition to the NT to rule others. S-EA demands all Christians keep Jesus' laws. Self control is what is commanded Christians, not 'other-control.'

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Church Comes Home

A Facebook friend recently shared a discussion provoking article called I Wonder If Sunday School is Destroying Our Kids?

While the article's main point was how our Sunday School curriculum teaches us the unrealistic doctrine of 'be faithful, be good and God will love you,' and needs to be more realistic about the faults of OT characters, it was with some comments made by other readers of the article with which I most agreed.

In my undying attempt to challenge the culture of Institutional Christianity, I was encouraged to see that many others also plainly see what is a possible, and most likely cause, of us losing our children in the church: the business nature of the American Church.

As Richard Hanson puts it: "When the Greeks got the gospel, they turned it into a philosophy; when the Romans got it, they turned it into a government; when the Europeans got it, they turned it into a culture; and when the Americans got it, they turned it into a business."

This quote summarizes what many agreed with, and that is that the American Church has become too "business like." Is it possible that those who are telling us that "we are losing our children in the church" are somehow part of the problem? Is our view of monologue, lecture-style "preaching" and "teaching" to a passive, docile 'obedient' assembly part of the problem?

Monday, July 8, 2013

1 Corinthians 11:17-34: Six Mistaken Assumptions That Cause Us to Misunderstand the Lord's Supper

Illustration by Judith Clingan
I would like to show that reading 1 Cor. 11:17-34 with formal, institutional 5-Acts of worship pattern assumptions hinders us from understanding the first century context of the Lord's Supper.

Assumption #1
Worship on Sunday is separate from the rest of life. The 'rest of life' concerns the other 165 hours of 'worldly' or mundane 'acts' or activities like work, play, and eating meals, etc.

Assumption #2: The '5-acts worship pattern' of singing, praying, giving, preaching & Lord's Supper must all be conducted every Sunday.

Christians must partake of the Lord's Supper as one of these 'acts' or are made to feel sinful.

Assumption #3:
The Supper can only be a small piece of bread & small cup of grape juice which is viewed as a 'spiritual meal' based, evidently, on its limited contents and size, or 'because the Lord through the Apostle Paul "said so" in 1 Cor. 11:23ff.

Assumption #4: The above assumptions/behaviors are expected unless you been 'providentially hindered' by work or sickness, but I don't know why these particular reasons are excused from the '5 acts pattern of worship' since there is no verse stating this.

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Corinthian Contribution by Abraham J. Malherbe

Abraham J. Malherbe, a recognized scholar from churches of Christ, writes:

“In the first mention of the Corinthian contribution in his letters, Paul sets forth the plan that was to be followed in its collection (1 Cor. 16:1-4)."

"Although the Corinthians apparently already knew about the contribution, he mentions four things relative to its preparation.”

“(1) The contribution was to be stored up on every first day of the week. From his tone it seems that he is referring to a regular practice of meeting on the first day of the week. It had apparently not been the practice to store up collections at regular times” [This is 20 years after Acts 2:42, sp]."

"Paul is here instituting the practice for the sake of order. He anticipated at least a whole year during which the collection was to be taken up and expected the regularity of the weekly contribution to preclude any last-minute confusion.”

“(2) Everyone was to take part in the weekly storing up. Every individual was to do it by himself, par* heauto(i). There is no evidence that churches had treasuries as early as this [c. AD 50, sp] or that money was collected during the worship service.” 

“(3) Representatives of the Corinthians would be sent by Paul to Jerusalem when he came.”

“(4) If, however, the amount contributed was sufficiently large, Paul himself would go, and they would accompany him.”

Malherbe cites Roberston and Plummer for his comment, “There is no evidence that churches had treasuries as early as this or that money was collected during the worship service.”