New Testament Church Proliferation Digest


Spreading the Gospel via House Churches


Dec 20, 2001 Vol 01 : 119

NT Church Proliferation Digest Thursday, December 20 2001 Vol 01 : 119


[ntcp] New Testament Church Proliferation: Favourite Bonhoeffer quote
Re: [ntcp] Dietrich Bonhoeffer - Life Together
Re: [ntcp] Dietrich Bonhoeffer - Life Together
Re: [ntcp] New Testament Church Proliferation: Favourite Bonhoeffer quote
Re: [ntcp] Dietrich Bonhoeffer - helpful web sites
Re: [ntcp] Dietrich Bonhoeffer - Life Together-2
Re: [ntcp] Dietrich Bonhoeffer - Life Together-2


Date: Wed, 19 Dec 2001 17:30:28 -0500
From: AOM Canada
Subject: [ntcp] New Testament Church Proliferation: Favourite Bonhoeffer quote

One of my favourite DB quotes:

DIETRICH BONHOEFFER

"I discovered later, and I am still discovering up to this moment, that it
is only by living completely in this world that one learns to have faith.
One must completely abondon any attempt to make something of
oneself, whether it be a saint, or a converted sinner, or a churchman (a
so-called priestly type!), a righteous man or an unrighteous one, a sick
man or a healthy one. By this-worldliness I mean living unreservedly
in life's duties, problems, successes and failures, experiences and
perplexities. In so doing we throw ourselves completely into the arms
of God, taking seriously, not our own sufferings, but those of God in
the world - watching with Christ in Gethsemane. That I think is faith,
that is metanoia; and that is how one becomes a man and a Christian
(cf. Jer. 45!). How can success make us arrogant, or failure lead us
astray, when we share in God's sufferings through a life of this kind?"

Dietrich Bonhoeffer - "Letters and Papers from Prison" - pp. 193-194.


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Date: Thu, 20 Dec 2001 08:44:05 +0200
From: "Deborah"
Subject: Re: [ntcp] Dietrich Bonhoeffer - Life Together

Sam Buick wrote:

>We are so pre-occupied with being accepted as "orthodox" that we attempt to
>retain the ideas of the IC, even the ones that have no biblical basis, just so
>that we will feel accepted and normal by the standards of other Christians.

Should we then seek to be heterodox? If not, by what standard(s) do we gauge
our orthodoxy? Or is that not important? Remember, even the books of the NT
canon were determined by what I might guess you would call the IC. At the
Nicene Council. So don't you see your rather sweeping position as
self-defeating?

>We only have one shepherd and that is Jesus.

Yours is too extreme a statement. The Scripture affirms the role of mortal
under-shepherds ...

"Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made
you overseers. BE SHEPHERDS of the church of God, which he bought with his own
blood" (Act. 20:28).

"It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be
evangelists, and some to BE PASTORS and teachers, ..." (Eph. 4:11).

"BE SHEPHERDS of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers--
not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not
greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to
you, but being examples to the flock" (1 Pet. 5:2, 3).

... so we should too. I would agree that we have an ultimate Shepherd to whom
we must all give an account. Is that what you meant?

>He is difference in essence, being fully human and fully God,

Sam, do you realize that you are here employing the terminology of the IC
creeds, particularly Athanasus'? It might do you good to admit that you too--
like those you are calling to task-- ultimately cannot escape the IC. It is
like the air you use to lambaste it. So just pick up that Bible you love
(funded, translated, and distributed by the IC)), and sing praises to God (more
likely than not written by those of the IC), for the orthodox doctrine
(chrystalized by the IC) which you espouse. Wouldn't it be more honest to
react to and expose *particular* abuses in the IC rather than castigating the
whole ... while you yourself still partake of it's bounty?

>The professional hireling will run at the first sign of trouble!

I've known enough salaried pastors who would die for me to know this statement
is too sweeping!

>This is one of the problems, the word "hierarchy". I like the book by Frank
>Viola, Who is Your Covering?, and I like how he explains from the the biblical
>language that hierarchy is not normative within body life of the church.

Which of the three (Classical Hebrew, Imperial Aramaic, semiticized Koine
Greek?) is "*the* biblical language" to which you refer? I don't think this
assertion could possibly be established from the languages alone anyway,
although something slightly akin to what you are saying might be demonstrable
from the "worldview(s)" of the biblical authors (see my post on the "Church Planting & Law &
Grace discussion" thread-- Nov. 27-- about "centered sets"). Nevertheless,
hierarchies do exist thoughout the Bible, OT and NT, and they are normative.
Just a quick example from the NT:

"Obey your LEADERS [HEGOUMENOIS] and submit to their authority. They keep watch
over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be
a joy" (Heb. 13:17).

There are the leaders in the above passage and there are the led. HEGOUMENOIS
is a participle meaning "those who go before," suggesting a hierarchy of those
few who go on ahead and those many who follow after. God's kingdom is a
monarchy, not a democracy. That implies hierarchy in the very fabric of
reality. Is that so evil? I acknowledge that the under-shepherds are in the
Church to serve, but such ministry involves leading-- a hierarchical function.

Michael
Jerusalem

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Date: Thu, 20 Dec 2001 07:08:18 -0800
From: jferris
Subject: Re: [ntcp] Dietrich Bonhoeffer - Life Together

Deborah wrote:

>Sam, do you realize that you are here employing the terminology of the
>IC creeds, particularly Athanasus'? It might do you good to admit that you
>too-- like those you are calling to task -- ultimately cannot escape the IC.
>It is like the air you use to lambaste it. So just pick up that Bible you
>love (funded, translated, and distributed by the IC)), and sing praises to God
>(more likely than not written by those of the IC), for the orthodox doctrine
>(chrystalized by the IC) which you espouse. Wouldn't it be more honest to
>react to and expose *particular* abuses in the IC rather than castigating the
>whole ... while you yourself still partake of it's bounty?

Dear Michael:

Early on, as I thought about the roots of IC, at least, in our own
period of history, the following considerations ocurred to me:

GOD INC.

In the remarks below, we would like to explore the motivations for the virtual
compulsion to incorporate any time a substantial ministry or church is
contemplated. Our hope is that by looking into this at some depth, we might
identify the motivations, and discover God given alternatives.

Because incorporation is a relationship between the participants and the state,
when Christians incorporate as ministry or "church", the result is a
relationship between the church and the state. What are the church's reasons,
and what are the state's reasons for such a relationship?

We will begin with the more obvious and proceed to the more subtile.

1. Group identification:

When individuals find a common bond or goal, they invariably want to declare
their existence and their rational to the world. This declaration accomplishes
two things; First, it declares their distinct existence; second, it declares
that they are different from what is happening around them. Both of these
reinforce their group identification and their distinctives. Incorporation is a
way of accomplishing this.

2. Exclusive right to title:

A corporation is a distinct entity with an existence of its own. As such it has
certain rights. One of the most basic is the right to the name by which it
identifies itself. When we decide what we are and identify with it by name in
the act of incorporation, we exclude others from calling themselves the same
thing.

3. Right to own property:

Incorporation creates a group existence which is more than the sum of its
parts, and having legitimacy in the eyes of the state for the purpose of owning
property. Where the responsibility of ownership is concerned, it identifies
legal liability.

4. Limited liability:

One of the benefits of incorporation is that it protects its participants from
personal hardship due to group or personal error where finances are concerned,
and due to injury on the premises where property is concerned.

5. Tax exemption on property:

Church property has real market value based on alternate use. This value in
both land and buildings is often substantial. At the prevailing property tax
rates, the tax itself would be a sizable chunk of the annual budget, even if
not an intolerable burden on the ministry or church. In many, if not all cases,
this alone would be enough to force abandonment of building and property.

6. Tax exemption on income:

Tax exemtion increases disposable income. Without it, there would be a
reduction in financial resources. This would curtail its activity.

7. Tax deductability:

Without the sanction of the state inherent in incorporation, donations to the
church could not be tax deductable. The standards of the state must first be
met if the recipient is to be allowed this legal privilege. Otherwise
contributors would claim tax deductability on any and all contributions to
anything and anyone. That would be intolerable to the state.

8. Mechanism for accountability:

Participants in the corporation are guaranteed some minimum accounting under
the terms of the incorporation.

9. An appearance of substance and continuity in time:

The trappings of incorporation make a person feel like they are joining
something of substance, something that was there yesterday, is here today, and
will endure tomorrow. This distinguishes it from the "fly-by-night" impressions
of casual relationships.

As a response to these motivations, how does incorporation stand up in light of
Scripture?

A BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE

1. Group identification:

In the economy of God, we are first of all baptized into one body, and sealed
by one Spirit. We see this in shadow, in Ezekiel 9:3,4, alluded to in I Peter
4:17, and confirmed to us in I Corinthians 12:13, II Corinthians 1:22,
Ephesians 1:13, and Galatians 4:6. When we have been placed into the body in
this way, we have our identification in Christ, for it is "...in Him that we
live and move and have our being." Acts 17:28. It is in His Name that we are
in love. Colossians 3:12-17. He is the one from whom and in whom we have our
substance, our sense of being. Colossians 1:17. This substance manifests
itself in oneness which is a sign to the world. John 10:14-23, and results in
their identification of us as Christians. Acts 11:26. The Lord Himself, insures
that this is permanent. Romans 8:38,39.

Nothing we can do can improve on the work of the Spirit. On the contrary, our
efforts in this connection only grieve the Spirit, defile the work of God, and
bring us back into bondage. Galatians 4:1-11, 5:1. No amount of paper work can
improve on the work of the Holy Spirit. Zechariah 4:6. All that we would
accomplish in this regard, by incorporation has already been accomplished for
us by the Father in His Son.

In Psalms 135:15, the Bible tells us that, "The idols of the nations are silver
and gold, made by the hands of men." For the present purposes, we would like to
focus on "...made by the hands of men." It is one thing for men, used and led
by The Spirit of God, to accomplish His purposes, but something else altogether
when men act in ways which are contrary to The Spirit as evidenced by his
revealed Word.

Too often the people of God want to be like the world. In Ezekiel 20:32, we
read, "You say, `We want to be like the nations, like the peoples of the world,
who serve wood and stone'..." In this instance, the work of man's hands is
described as "...wood and stone." That this continues to be the case today is
not so difficult to appreciate, as the people of God are preoccupied with
buildings, while unable to get along with each other.

But Gentile style is not limited to physical plant, to buildings. Paul writing
to the Ephesians, Chapter 4 Verse 17, says "So I tell you this, and insist on
it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the
futility of their thinking." It seems that it is not just what the Gentiles do
that is a problem, but the way they think. It is easy to see that we have erred
where our pre occupation with buildings is concerned. It is not so easy to see
the error of our ways where organization, structure and authority are concerned.

To be continued:

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Date: Thu, 20 Dec 2001 08:30:08 EST
From: Steffasong
Subject: Re: [ntcp] New Testament Church Proliferation: Favourite Bonhoeffer quote


What an outstanding quote!
We have so much to learn from those who have gone before us.

In the Lamb,
Stephanie Bennett

In a message dated 12/19/2001 7:16:47 PM Eastern Standard Time,
aom_canada@hotmail.com writes:
>
> DIETRICH BONHOEFFER
>
> "I discovered later, and I am still discovering up to this moment, that it
> is only by living completely in this world that one learns to have faith.
> One must completely abondon any attempt to make something of
> oneself, whether it be a saint, or a converted sinner, or a churchman (a
> so-called priestly type!), a righteous man or an unrighteous one, a sick
> man or a healthy one. By this-worldliness I mean living unreservedly
> in life's duties, problems, successes and failures, experiences and
> perplexities. In so doing we throw ourselves completely into the arms
> of God, taking seriously, not our own sufferings, but those of God in
> the world - watching with Christ in Gethsemane. That I think is faith,
> that is metanoia; and that is how one becomes a man and a Christian
> (cf. Jer. 45!). How can success make us arrogant, or failure lead us
> astray, when we share in God's sufferings through a life of this kind?"
>
> Dietrich Bonhoeffer - "Letters and Papers from Prison" - pp. 193-194.

Stephanie Bennett

Horizon Creative Services & Consulting
Marketing Solutions for the 21st Century
http://members.aol.com/steffasong/index.html


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Date: Thu, 20 Dec 2001 12:34:43 -0500
From: "Nahmen Nielsen"
Subject: Re: [ntcp] Dietrich Bonhoeffer - helpful web sites

Thank you for sending this. Nahmen


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Date: Thu, 20 Dec 2001 12:46:21 -0800
From: jferris
Subject: Re: [ntcp] Dietrich Bonhoeffer - Life Together-2

GOD INC. Continued

This truth is foundational to the remainder of our case contrasting man's ways
with God's ways. God puts us together by His Spirit, through The Blood of His
Son, not by the wisdom of men and their paper work.

Where group identification is concerned, The group is the kingdom of God. The
kingdom of God is a mystery, not apprehended or seen except by those who are
born again.1 It is one thing to identify worldly groups and purposes by
incorporation, but to attempt to identify the church by such means, is
misleading to new converts, and a fraud on the general public, on the lost. To
suggest to the world that it can identify the Kingdom of God by incorporation,
is to deny the clear teaching of Scripture.

When the children of God "go down to Egypt", when they depend on "the arm of
the flesh", The Holy Spirit is grieved. The Gospels tell us that Jesus,
"wouldn't" or "couldn't" do any miracles in His home town. As Jesus Himself
explained it, the problem was a lack of honor. Honor is the operative link to
the power of God by the Holy Spirit, whether in Jesus or us as believers.
Reliance on the "work of man's hands", always dishonors the Spirit, and has
historically been the deathnell for every out pouring of the Holy Spirit, every
revival.

In the parallels cited above, we have tried to bring this truth to the surface
as a foundational principle having relevance to all of these points. Even where
God initiated a work, when man takes over, God vacates. God does not, and will
not occupy the "work of man's hands", He "will not give His glory to another."

"Church membership", as it is presently understood and practiced, amounts to
nothing less than institutional circumcision, and is entangled with all of the
considerations and motivations described in Galatians.2

2. Exclusive right to title:

This is precisely the motivation that was working in those who were building
the tower of Babel.3 But, there was, and is another name, one that those
builders rejected, and one which continues to be rejected by latter day tower
builders.4 It is to that name only that we must cling.5 To name ourselves, to
organize under any lesser name than Jesus, or worse, to label a part as if it
is the whole, is to establish and concretize division. To do so is to
demonstrate that we haven't heard the true gospel. It calls into question
whether we have been united to Christ.6 It shows that we are childish.7 By it
we destroy The Body of Christ.8 Not only are we admonished not to cause
division, but to avoid those who do.9 Ours is a different way.10 Even at the
close of the New Testament, this principle of oneness was still firmly in place
as we see the Lord writing to the churches in Asia, and addressing them by the
name of the towns where they were.11 The Lord again encouraged their oneness.12
and rebuked their falling away.13

3. Right to own property:

1 JOH 3:3,5, EPH 3:7-13 2 GAL 6:12-15, 3 GEN 11:6 4ACT 4:16 5 ACT 4:12 6 PHI
2:1-4 7 1CO 1:11-13, 3:1-4, 11-15 8 GAL 5:13-15 9 ROM 16:17,18, TIT 3:10,11 10
JAM 3:13-18, 4:11,12, 5:9, 1PE 1:22, 2:1,17, 3:8, 1JO 3:10-12, 4:7-21, 2JO 5:6
11 REV 1:11 12 REV 2:4,5 13 REV 3:1-3

There is no evidence in the Scripture, and considerable indication to the
contrary, where the ownership of property, as the church is concerned. Private
people sold property from time to time to give to the church, the proceeds of
which were used to meet the needs of the saints, not purchase property or erect
buildings. As the church, we are admonished to avoid friendship with the world.
While Jesus was and is the friend of sinners, he was never the friend of the
world system, and neither should we.

4. Limited liability:

Once again, there is no evidence in the Scripture, that the people of God, as
the church should have limited liability at the hands of the state. If our
liability is limited, it is limited under the sovereignty of God. Our call is
to lay our lives down for one another. Through incorporation, however, the
people of God have insulated themselves, not only from the world, but from each
other. By limited service to institutions rather than unlimited service to each
other, we have cut the credibility out from under the Gospel, and manifested a
level of commitment inferior to that of most fraternal organizations.

5. Tax exemption on property:

If the church was not encumbered with property, it would have no need for tax
exemption. As it is, however, the tax supported services of the state are
provided to the church free of charge, and at the expense of the unsaved tax
payers. This was not the way of John. 1 Jesus said to those who represented a
shadow of the Kingdom to Come. "Render therefore unto Caesar the things that
are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's."

6. Tax exemption on income:

This is a bit more problematic. The kingdom of God is in us, or in our midst,
or among us.2 The borders of the kingdom are between soul and spirit in the
lives of the believers.3 The Kingdom of God is in the Spirit.4 The government
of the Kingdom is on Jesus' shoulder.5

When we, as believers, earn money in our secular work, in us that money enters
the kingdom. At the border (between soul and spirit) taxes must be paid to
Caesar, for God does not owe any man anything. Once the taxes are paid at the
border, the "transactions" which go on in the church are none of Caesar's
business. The truth in God is that the believers are one, as Jesus and the
Father are one. Therefore, the flow of assets in the body, are not transactions
between seperate individuals, but only the provision of the body which is
building itself up in love.

This is why the church must not be tax exempt. In Malachi, 6 the people of God
are spoken of as being His jewels, His treasure. Tax exemption invites the
ambassador of Babylon into the treasure house of The Lord.7 Indeed, tax
exemption gives the tax authorities of this world a right to enter into the
treasure house of the Lord. When Hezekiah, an otherwise righteous king, did
this, the consequence was that the people of God were carried off into
captivity.

1 3JO 7, 2 LUK 17:21, 3 HEB 4:12, 4 ROM 14:17, 5 ISA 9:6, 6 MAL 3:16-18, 7 2KI
20:12-18

7. Tax deductability:

Tax deductability requires that contributions to the church be made known to
the authorities, in order to be credited as deductable. Jesus said "Be careful
not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you
do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven."1

While it is likely that the people of God would be in trouble if intra-body
transactions were not reported for tax purposes, but that is another matter,
and not unanticipated by the Scriptures. Certainly the doing of alms before men
for credit, a requirement of tax exemption, is not the will of God according to
the clear teaching of Scripture.

As the people of God, we must face up to the clear teaching of Scripture.
Matthew tells us that we, "... will be hated by all nations..."2 Tax
deductability, in light of our high calling, unshakable positon, and destiny at
the hands of the nations is ridiculous on its face.

8. Mechanism for accountability:

The Lord knows about accountability. Paul also knew about accountability.3 But,
there is no indication that a corporation is required. In fact, in the hostile
envirnoment, which Scripture suggests is normal to the church, a corporation is
an obvious liability

9. An appearance of substance and continuity in time:

"The just shall live by faith." "Faith is the substance of things hoped for,
and the evidence of things unseen."3 The arguement that a corporation is needed
for this purpose, is so foreign to the Scripture, that it hardly needs to be
argued. Whether substance, continuity, power, faithfulness or fruitfulness, It
is "not by might, nor by power, (incorporation), but by my Spirit', says the
Lord Almighty." Corporations and institutions generally, give the people of God
an improper, and unfortunately preferable, object of faithfulness. The reason
stems from limited liability. To open your life up to the Lord, and to people,
you have to die, but involvement with an institution can be limited. It leaves
us in control.

Jesus is Lord of relationship! With this in mind, and looking back through the
perspective of the New Testament at I Samuel, we see an example, written down
for our instruction, where the people of God rejected God as king. They went to
Samuel demanding that he appoint a king over them like the rest of the nations.
They did not want to come under the kings of the gentiles, they wanted their
own king.

A present day equivalent would be for us to desire to have a "christian" king
over us. In the context of today's church, more often than not, this "king"
takes the form of one man pastoral oversight as distinct from the plurality of
eldership seen in the New Testament. Keeping in mind that this king was desired
as a result of the rejection of God as king, we can then learn by example the
kind of things that happen when we come under men, even Christian leaders,
rather than the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Men will run you ragged with their
programs, "chasing chariots. Men will put you in bondage, "slavery". Men will
take a tenth, just for openers. Etc, etc, and on it goes..

1 MAT 6:1-4 2 MAT 24:9, 3 2CO 8:16-21 3 HEB 11:1

No man made anything can be instrumental in communicating Christ in His
fullness without a willingness to self-destruct. This is to say, Institutions
and programs, any man made structures have a vested interest in
self-preservation. They will come short in communicating at the point where the
liberty of Christ's salvation conflicts with the bondage of human doing. Quite
simply, institutions cannot afford to tell us the truth because, where Jesus is
concerned, it is bad for business.

We as christians may have use for corporations, where certain kinds of ministry
are concerned, especailly as relates to material things, but even in those
cases, we must be very careful in using the things of this world. There is no
place for incorporation as the church or a church. The Church is, and will
remain a "great mystery" until the coming of The Lord.

Sorry about the length of this, but I'll be away until the 31st. I wish you all
very blessed holidays.

Jay

End of New Testament Church Proliferation Digest V1 #119



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