New Testament Church Proliferation Digest

 

Spreading the Gospel via House Churches

 


New Testament Church Proliferation Digest Friday, February 15 2002 Vol 02 : 039
Re: [NTCP] RE: Confronting the evidence
Re: [NTCP] RE: Confronting the evidence
[NTCP] The wrong tree
Re: [NTCP] RE: Confronting the evidence
Re: [NTCP] RE: Confronting the evidence
Re: [NTCP] RE: Confronting the evidence
[NTCP] RE: Confronting the evidence
Re: [NTCP] RE: Confronting the evidence
Re: [NTCP] RE: Confronting the evidence
Re: [NTCP] RE: Confronting the evidence

Date: Thu, 14 Feb 2002 08:06:14 -0500
From: "Michael Gastin"
Subject: Re: [NTCP] RE: Confronting the evidence

I guess my questions, in the light of what Michael M has stated historically
would be:

1. What function did these one man bishops fulfill? (Did they preach Sunday
morning messages, officiate the communion service ...etc.)

2. What were they bishop over? Did they preside over a city wide 'church' of
thousands? Did they act as what we would identify today as an institutional
church pastor of a small or medium flock?

3. How did they lead? How were they viewed by the believers? How did their
authority work? Were they accepted by all in their city as "The Man" or were
they simply older, more educated and assuming some authority? On that note, do
not forget Clement in Rome who had a little house church going and assumed
leadership. Meanwhile, Hermas, seemed to be of a different vein and was very
likely not a part of Clement's group and did not fall under Clement's
leadership. (Conflict at Rome - Jeffers)

I am wondering if we are not overlaying our modern experiences with leadership
and one man shows onto the idea that there were instances of one guy in charge
in the early church. Must we assume that Ignatius acted like a top down leader?
Must we imagine Ignatius as the CEO of the church in Antioch? Or, could he have
functioned as a holy and godly father? Was his authority rooted in the seat or
office he held or in his brokenness and actual service to the Body of Christ?

I do not know, but I think these are good questions to answer. Historical texts
are fine. They provide a record. but, they deny us the ability to view how
things actually worked, as we are left to apply our own film of assumptions to
fill in the picture.

Mike Gastin

PS - I just rolled outta bed and only had a few hours sleep. So, forgive me if
my thoughts seem choppy and stunted. )


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Date: Thu, 14 Feb 2002 08:23:25 -0800
From: jferris
Subject: Re: [NTCP] RE: Confronting the evidence

Deborah wrote:

>We might infer from the historical data that nobody was alarmed or even
>thought it strange to have mono-bishops, even in the very churches most
>influenced by Pauline theology. As if what Paul wrote in his letters may have
>even *allowed* for MONEPISCOPACIES. That it wasn't an objectionable practice
>at all. This is how I would read evidence if I didn't have any axes to grind.
>
Dear Michael,

Almost 2,000 years of axes is a lot of grinding.

Again, your citations didn't make it into a Word which made it very clear that
things were going down hill in a hurry.

Yours in Christ,

Jay


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Date: Thu, 14 Feb 2002 08:31:41 -0800
From: jferris
Subject: [NTCP] The wrong tree

Background:

Friday, the first week in January, on the way home from work, I got a
revelation, the first I had had in a little while. It had to do with "in-law
problems".

About three months prior, I saw that it all comes down to a choice in heart's
content between "Abba" and "ough oh". Well, I think I found another legitimate
alternative, a more temporary one. Let's call it "Ooo la la", "...and for this
cause a man will leave "Abba"..." In some sense this "Ooo la la" is really
"ough oh" once removed or, at least, a variation on "ough oh".

I won't take the time right now to attempt a full elaboration, but this is the
core of it. I Corinthians 15, the verse that says, "... then the Son Himself
will be made subject..", and Ephesians 5, the "leave and cleave" verse.

For present purposes I'll try to reduce and simplify.

When we leave our Father, in order to cleave to our wife, (I'm leaving it in
that gender only for the purpose of making the present point.) the leaving is
more than geographic, or a matter of residence. It is a coming out from under,
both in the sense of provision and protection. There is also an authority
dimension of this leaving. The wife is not subject to her "in-laws", she is
subject to her husband, "...likewise the husband."

Paul tells us that this is all about Christ and the Church. I repeat, All the
leaving and cleaving is about Christ and the Church. He, and our relationship
to Him, is the point of it all.

Generally speaking, In-law problems are problems that youngers have with
elders. Having only just arrived on the elder side of this equation, I am now
seeing that this is a two way street, and authority is very much at the heart
of it. The Father has to let go. The Father has to bite his tongue. Perhaps
enough said about that part.

In Jesus case, He left His Father in order to court and win a bride who was
demonstrably incompatible with The Father's house. The revelation was that, it
is in this sense that Jesus is not presently subject to the Father. In this
sense, He could not be subject to His Father, and carry on with this woman,
(My God, My God, Why hast thou forsaken me?). Even on her best day, there were,
and still are, points of incompatibility. She is not yet spotless and wrinkle
free, and God is too Holy to look upon sin.

You have no doubt noticed that husbands and wives tend to influence each other,
and, over time, even becoming more and more like each other, if it's working
right. At the cross, her's was the overriding influence, "...He became sin..."
But over time, Jesus' influence is greater than our own, so there is some hope
that it is we who will become like Him, rather than the other way around. In
fact, so much so that, in the end we will be compatible with the Fathers house,
at which point, He Himself will once again be subject to the Father in the same
way that he was before the world began. At that point we too will know that
oneness that He prayed for in John 17:5 "And now, O Father, glorify thou me
with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was."

Now, if we can get this kind of information about the invisible things of God
from the visible things of creation, perhaps we can draw some hope that it
might also be done here on earth as it is in heaven, so that one day even our
"in-law problems" will be done away.

Present wrestling:

Ok, now for the most recent revelation. Let me first explain "Ough Oh". "Ough
Oh" is descriptive of that state of mind, the instant it is moved from a state
of bliss. The Garden before the fall is that state of bliss. Before God threw
them out, they were all ready out of it. "Ough oh" had them sewing leaves,
hiding in the bushes, and hiding from God. My experience tells me that hiding
in the bushes is not always hiding from God. Sometimes it is hiding from each
other.

With that as background then, let's consider the Garden in a very generic way.
Let's say it is a state of bliss, an unmixed blessing, a place of perfect
intimacy. Everything is only good, even "very good". Let's say that there are
two or more people in that state together. (I say two or more, because we don't
want to forget that this is all about Christ and the Church.)

At some point one of them becomes aware that something is wrong, that something
needs to be done. Since receiving this revelation, I have asked the question
over and over, What is a "honey do list"? and the answer is always the same. A
"honey do list" is a list of things that need to be done that a wife gives to a
husband. I'm sure that there might be exceptions, but in general, that's the
way it goes. This being the case, please note that it is the wife who is the
first to be aware that something is wrong, that something needs to be done.

Call it thick, call it bone headed, call it clue less, but clearly husbands
seem to be specially equipped to ignore the obvious. The tree of the knowledge
of good and evil was right in the center of the garden, after all. Clearly he
knew it was there. In fact he was so aware of its presence that he couldn't
even claim that he was deceived in eating from it.

Ok, so let's narrow the focus in order to make the point a little clearer. A
couple decides to have some special time together. Let's call it an intentional
garden experience... phone off the hook; shades down; candles lit; etc... As
between him and her, who is likely to be most easily disturbed by outside
influence? Which one of then is likely to be more successful at putting aside
the pressures of the things that need to be taken care of. The very origin of a
"honey do list" suggests that this is a wife's great vulnerability.

So in the midst of her intimate sabbatical she spots the tree. If it could have
stopped there, we might have avoided a lot of difficulty. The problem was that
she chose to ingest it. I don't know if you have noticed, but there is a
difference between having, even holding something, and eating it. The problem
is that we are what we eat. When we eat it, it becomes part of who we are.

Here is the part I'm trying to figure out. (If I do, I am going immediately to
the patent office, because there just has to be big money in the answer.)
Here's what happened according to the Authorized Version: "And when the woman
saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and
a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did
eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of
them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig
leaves together, and made themselves aprons." Genesis 3:6,7

Notice the part where it says, "... and gave also unto her husband with her;
and he did eat."

It looks like there may have been a moment, perhaps longer, perhaps shorter,
(I've experienced it both ways) between the time he received it, and the time
that he ate it. (Talk about a pregnant moment.) The question is, was there
something he might have done with the fruit, that might have been more
redemptive than eating it? More redemptive than making it part of who he was?

Now I don't know if she had already fallen out of bed, so to speak, before he
ate it, but clearly by the time that he ate, they were both on the floor, and
not "happy campers".

Clearly in Jesus' case, He ate it, or more accurately, in Jesus' case, He drank
it. (Who knows, maybe they were into "juicing".) "He became sin who knew no sin
that we might be the righteousness of God in Him." As His bride or, at least
part of His bride, I am eternally grateful. But as a husband, I'm wondering if
there might not be some other way.

Were her eyes already open before he ate it? or were her eyes opened only when
the indigestion hit him? That is certainly one way to read it. That suggests
that if he had not eaten it, even she might have been able to stay in a state
of bliss. But, if she had already fallen, even before he ate, was there
something different that he might have done, that not only kept himself from
falling but was able to restore her back into that state of grace, that place
which is hidden in the innermost desire of every human heart.

It almost seems like a husband would have to be more successful than Jesus to
even consider such a possibility, but perhaps, this side of the cross, such
grace is available to us husbands, if only we would not fall ("come") short of
it.

So whether she is the first to be aware that something needs to be done, or a
whole list of things need to be done, and in her awareness falls from grace, or
in sharing the list, (the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil)
his reaction causes them to fall from grace together, it seems like there ought
to be a better way.

We are told that "The Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world.
Revelation 13:8 In that sense, He went down with or before her, not after her.
Well, my problem is how to be redemptive here and now, because "ough oh" in the
heart not only makes a marriage less than it was designed to be, but makes the
Church less than it ought to be. In both cases it can lead to divorce, but even
short of divorce, very painful separation for wife and husband alike. Again,
"This is a great mystery, but I'm speaking of Christ and the Church.

What is it about wives that deceives them into thinking that something to do is
good to eat? And what can us husbands do, short of eating all of it so that
there is none left for her? I don't know, but I'm working on it.

Can you help me out here?

Yours in Christ,

Jay

P.S. If I have been a little too wordy here, it may be just a little gas
something I ate, no doubt.


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Date: 14 Feb 2002 08:36:47 -0500
From: Mike Sangrey
Subject: Re: [NTCP] RE: Confronting the evidence

Michael (nice name ),

Doesn't a good bit of your argument rest on your assumption that the Greek for
"the bishop" implies "one bishop"? That's not necessarily true.

One of the most difficult things for people to get their minds around when
moving from one language to another is that nothing, literally nothing, that
they see in the one language matches up nice and cleanly in another language.
Good translation is extremely difficult.

For example, it is only in very highly unusual circumstances that a given word
in one language will match up to a given word in another. Take the Greek word
ERXOMAI. The word signifies linear movement from one place to another. One
would think the word move would work fairly well. It doesn't. They could say
something like: "I move to the store" and they would mean: "I go to the store."
They could also say: "I move home" and mean "I come home." So, here we have a
word, ERXOMAI, which is commonly translated as both `go' and its opposite
`come'. To the Greek mind it was move here and move there. In other words,
words are at best synonyms when their meaning is brought across languages.
Think of different contexts where we use the word `move' and where we use `go'
and `come' and notice how `move' sortta, kinda fits. That is, if you put
`move' in place of `come' or `go' you kinda get the picture; but it doesn't
quite work. Try to see WHY it doesn't work. It doesn't work because of other
words that are located around it. It's an interesting exercise that gives you
a whole new appreciation for how languages works.

Certain other words are even trickier; these are the marker words. `The' is
like this. Just try to answer the question from (say) a four year old, "Daddy,
what does `the' mean?" Not very easy.

The Greek definite article works differently than the English one. Similar, but
there are subtle differences which tell us it's different. For example, in
Greek you can say "the Paul." But you don't say that all the time. When a
person is first introduced in a story, the reference to him or her is typically
without the article but subsequent references have it. There are some very
interesting exceptions to this.

My point is that the definite articles in Greek and English work differently.
Also, it is EXTREMELY easy to think in terms of the English meaning when
interpreting the Greek form. I've seen PhD's do this frequently, so don't
think of it as a lack of education. It's not. In fact, I know of no Greek
grammar which doesn't mix the English way of doing things with the Greek. It
is simply the result of being fluent in English and NOT being able to benefit
from an immersion into a Koine Greek speaking environment. It means we have to
tread the pathway with a very keen eye to the details. The difficulty is that
we have to express those details in English; so, there is this built in mixture
of the two languages. Tricky, tricky, tricky.

Now, with that as an introduction, take a look at 2 Cor. 12:12 and answer the
question: how many Apostles were there? The word APOSTOLOS is articular and
singular. And yet it is quite obviously referring to the quality of being an
Apostle and therefore doesn't limit the number of Apostles to which it applies.
This isn't the best example, but I don't have time right now to find a better
one.

All I'm really saying is that we shouldn't build too strong an argument based
on the assumption of "the bishop" carrying the meaning that there was only one
bishop. It very well could be the Greek way of saying, "Ignatius, a specific
bishop of Antioch..."

Secondly, I've found it very odd (given my modern perspective) that the
Apostolic letters we have which were written to churches were written TO THE
CHURCHES, not to what we would call "the leadership." Only Philippians
mentions the Elders and Deacons (and I think I can make a pretty good argument
that the reason for that was because each of those groups had a section of
Philippians addressed specifically to them). And then along comes the patristic
fathers and they change the game plan. Why?

This especially bothers me in the light of such passages as Acts 20:29 where
Paul warns the Ephesian elders that wolves would move into your group. The
word in apposition (it's not strictly an adjective since it's a noun in the
same case and number) to wolves is rather interesting. It carries the
connotation of `weight'. Some translations have "burdensome wolves." Some
have "fierce". I think, though they come close, these miss the essential core
of the word. These wolves were heavy wolves, wolves that would throw their
weight around. And this was in about the middle of the 1st century. Paul is
looking these people in the face and telling them that this problem is going to
happen early--to these elders. John refers to the same type of thing in 3 John
9. Here this Diotrephes was throwing his weight around against an Apostle!
And also, the entire book of James speaks to this issue: the pushing down of
the have-nots by those who have. This theme ties the entire book into a
cohesive whole.

So, what am I saying? I'm saying that one can turn your argument completely
around and say that the writings of the patristic fathers show the decay
happened very early on. In this regard you've pointed out that in all these
writings we have very little evidence which shows anyone pushing back. That
actually doesn't surprise me. I've seen a friend of mine, who was quite
misunderstood, silenced very effectively by the elders of a church and yet it
was not done in a public way. The elders were NOT ill-motivated. They
sincerely felt they were "protecting the flock." What bothered me was how
subtle, how very quietly, it was done. There's very little evidence, if any,
that my friend was ever even there. And also there is that fact of reality:
the winners get to write the history.

It takes an enormously committed individual to enable others to excel by
entering into where they are at. Lesser people simply say, "put me in charge
and I'll help you." However, may I quickly add that even still lesser are
those who do nothing or who fight about it. The greatest of our past leaders
aren't recorded; but their positive effects are felt today by you and me. The
last will be first; and the first last.

May the Lord bless you!

Mike Sangrey
Landisburg, Pa.

"The first one last wins." "A net of highly cohesive details reveals the
truth."


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Date: Thu, 14 Feb 2002 17:01:11
From: "David Jaggernauth"
Subject: Re: [NTCP] RE: Confronting the evidence

Michael said:

>1. What function did these one man bishops fulfill? (Did they preach Sunday
>morning messages, officiate the communion service ...etc.)
>
>2. What were they bishop over? Did they preside over a city wide 'church' of
>thousands? Did they act as what we would identify today as an institutional
>church pastor of a small or medium flock?
>
>3. How did they lead? How were they viewed by the believers? How did their
>authority work? Were they accepted by all in their city as "The Man" or were
>they simply older, more educated and assuming some authority? On that note, do
>not forget Clement in Rome who had a little house church going and assumed
>leadership. Meanwhile, Hermas, seemed to be of a different vein and was very
>likely not a part of Clement's group and did not fall under Clement's
>leadership. (Conflict at Rome - Jeffers)
>
>I am wondering if we are not overlaying our modern experiences with leadership
>and one man shows onto the idea that there were instances of one guy in charge
>in the early church. Must we assume that Ignatius acted like a top down
>leader? Must we imagine Ignatius as the CEO of the church in Antioch? Or,
>could he have functioned as a holy and godly father? Was his authority rooted
>in the seat or office he held or in his brokenness and actual service to the
>Body of Christ?
I'd like to make some comments here, I'm not an expert on this topic but I'd
like to share a few (historical) things here that are somewhat interesting. The
first epistle of Clement to the Corinthians:

Chapter XLII.-The Order of Ministers in the Church.

"The apostles have preached the Gospel to us from the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus
Christ has done so from God. Christ therefore was sent forth by God, and the
apostles by Christ. Both these appointments, then, were made in an orderly way,
according to the will of God. Having therefore received their orders, and being
fully assured by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and established in
the word of God, with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth
proclaiming that the kingdom of God was at hand. And thus preaching through
countries and cities, they appointed the first-fruits [of their labours],
having first proved them by the Spirit,181 to be bishops and deacons of those
who should afterwards believe. Nor was this any new thing, since indeed many
ages before it was written concerning bishops and deacons. For thus saith the
Scripture in a certain place, "I will appoint their bishops182 in
righteousness, and their deacons183 in faith."184

Chapter XLIV.-The Ordinances of the Apostles, that There Might Be No Contention
Respecting the Priestly Office.

Our apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and there would be
strife on account of the office188 of the episcopate. For this reason,
therefore, inasmuch as they had obtained a perfect fore-knowledge of this, they
appointed those [ministers] already mentioned, and afterwards gave
instructions,189 that when these should fall asleep, other approved men should
succeed them in their ministry. We are of opinion, therefore, that those
appointed by them,190 or afterwards by other eminent men, with the consent of
the whole Church, and who have blame-lessly served the flock of Christ in a
humble, peaceable, and disinterested spirit, and have for a long time possessed
the good opinion of all, cannot be justly dismissed from the ministry. For our
sin will not be small, if we eject from the episcopate191 those who have
blamelessly and holily fulfilled its duties.192 Blessed are those presbyters
who, having finished their course before now, have obtained a fruitful and
perfect departure [from this world]; for they have no fear lest any one deprive
them of the place now appointed them. But we see that ye have removed some men
of excellent behaviour from the ministry, which they fulfilled blamelessly and
with honour.

Chapter XI.-Expression of Grief on Account of Valens.

I am greatly grieved for Valens, who was once a presbyter among you, because he
so little understands the place that was given him [in the Church]. I exhort
you, therefore, that ye abstain from covetousness,61 and that ye be chaste and
truthful. "Abstain from every form of evil."62 For if a man cannot govern
himself in such matters, how shall he enjoin them on others? If a man does not
keep himself from covetousness,63 he shall be defiled by idolatry, and shall be
judged as one of the heathen..."

Was this a bishop who disqualified himself ???

The above writings seem to suggest to me the quality of person who was
appointed to be a bishop. It seems that they were also appointed by the
Apostles, they didnt appoint themselves. They didnt plant a few Churches and
then appoint themselves a bishop (with callcard to prove it and all).

The Encyclical Epistle of the Church at Smyrnam Concerning the Martyrdom of the
Holy Polycarp

Chapter XVII.-The Christians are Refused Polycarp's Body.

"But when the adversary of the race of the righteous, the envious, malicious,
and wicked one, perceived the impressive44 nature of his martyrdom, and
[considered] the blameless life he had led from the beginning, and how he was
now crowned with the wreath of immortality, having beyond dispute received his
reward, he did his utmost that not the least memorial of him should be taken
away by us..." It seems as well that the Bishop was usually one of the first
people to be killed in the Church.

The Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians :

Chapter I.-Praise of the Ephesians.

I received, therefore,10 your whole multitude in the name of God, through
Onesimus, a man of inexpressible love,11 and your bishop in the flesh, whom I
pray you by Jesus Christ to love, and that you would all seek to be like him.
And blessed be He who has granted unto you, being worthy, to obtain such an
excellent bishop......

.......I have therefore received your whole multitude in the name of God,
through Onesimus, a man of inexpressible love,16 and who is your bishop, whom I
pray you by Jesus Christ to love, and that you would all seek to be like him.
Blessed be God, who has granted unto you, who are yourselves so excellent, to
obtain such an excellent bishop. ...

Chapter VI.-Have Respect to the Bishop as to Christ Himself.

Now the more any one sees the bishop keeping silence,43 the more ought he to
revere him. For we ought to receive every one whom the Master of the house
sends to be over His household,44 as we would do Him that sent him. It is
manifest, therefore, that we should look upon the bishop even as we would upon
the Lord Himself.....

Chapter III.-Exhortations to Unity.

I do not issue orders to you, as if I were some great person. For though I am
bound for the name [of Christ], I am not yet perfect in Jesus Christ. For now I
begin to be a disciple, and I speak to you as fellow-disciples with me. For it
was needful for me to have been stirred up by you in faith, exhortation,
patience, and long-suffering. But inasmuch as love suffers me not to be silent
in regard to you.....

The Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians: Chapter III.-Honour Your Youthful
Bishop.

Now it becomes you also not to treat your bishop too familiarly on account of
his youth,12 but to yield him all reverence, having respect to13 the power of
God the Father, as I have known even holy presbyters do, not judging rashly,
from the manifest youthful appearance14 [of their bishop], but as being
themselves prudent in God, submitting to him, or rather not to him, but to the
Father of Jesus Christ, the bishop of us all. It is therefore fitting that you
should, after no hypocritical fashion, obey [your bishop], in honour of Him who
has wired us [so to do], since he that does not so deceives not [by such
conduct] the bishop that is visible, but seeks to mock Him that is invisible.
And all such conduct has reference not to man,15 but to God, who knows all
secrets. Now it becomes you also not to despise the age of your bishop, but to
yield him all reverence, according to the will of God the Father, as I have
known even holy presbyters do, not having regard to the manifest youth [of
their bishop], but to his knowledge in God; inasmuch as "not the ancient are
[necessarily] wise, nor do the aged understand prudence; but there is a spirit
in men."16 For Daniel the wise, at twelve years of age, became possessed of the
divine Spirit, and convicted the elders, who in vain carried their grey hairs,
of being false accusers, and of lusting after the beauty of another man's
wife...

These documents presents a picture of a bishop in the early priod of the
church. It also reveals that there was much dissention regarding the authority
of the Bishop in the early Church.

My question is this, if a bishop were appointed today, by Apostolic authority,
fulfilling all the mandates of scripture for such office, would we williingly
support his office?? Knowing full well his spiritual qualifications as listed
in scripture (described above as well).

If a man comes into the office of a bishop and is really appointed by God, he
will have the authority of God to back him up. Jesus said he who is least
amongst you will be greatest. These bishops were obviously servant leaders.

I dont think we should be afraid of a God ordained office, provided the person
has the qualities required for the position and he is really appointed by God.

This is also why we need genuine Apostles today.

David Jaggernauth
Trinidad


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Date: Thu, 14 Feb 2002 21:10:54 +0100
From: Keith
Subject: Re: [NTCP] RE: Confronting the evidence

David said

My question is this if a bishop were appointed today by Apostolic authority
fulfilling all the mandates of scripture for such office would we williingly
support his office Knowing full well his spiritual qualifications as listed in
scripture (described above as well).

If a man comes into the office of a bishop and is really appointed by God he
will have the authority of God to back him up Jesus said he who is least
amongst you will be greatest These bishops were obviously servant leaders I
dont think we should be afraid of a God ordained office provided the person has
the qualities required for the position and he is really appointed by God.

This is also why we need genuine Apostles today this is an important idea Here
where I live in Northern Spain we have a small group of individuals who have
each gone off to plant their house church yet not one of then is prepared to
submit himself to another These loose cannons are doing a lot of damage to the
church here I think that servant elder/bishops should be obeyed as authorities
in the church And anyone who doesn't obey a truly God appointed apostle is
just plain dumb.

Vaya con Dios
Keith


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Date: Thu, 14 Feb 2002 12:39:43 -0800
From: Dan Snyder
Subject: [NTCP] RE: Confronting the evidence

Dear Brothers,

I may be getting lost here... (Could somebody please remind me why we're
discussing "bishops"?)

I hope nobody is thinking that by helping get a church started a "planter"
becomes the local "bishop". Or that by raising up several churches he gets a
little empire and becomes the "bishop" over those churches. Yikes!!!

Historically, the whole matter of "bishops" developed into a rather monstrous
hierarchical system (that great tree in Matt. 13 with the evil birds roosting
in its branches... vs. the simple little mustard plant that's good for food).

To my realization, lurking behind this whole matter of "bishops" is the basic
clergy/laity issue. Even church planters have to be careful not to fall into
the trap of becoming the "clergy".

A fundamental principle in the New Testament is that all of God's children are
the priests to serve God. That's why there's no separate "clergy" class.
Because the Body is living, the whole Body needs to function.

Anyway, I guess that word "bishop" still scares me.

Hope I'm not too much on my soapbox here.

Dan


------- <><><> -------


Date: Thu, 14 Feb 2002 18:37:11 -0800
From: jferris
Subject: Re: [NTCP] RE:
Confronting the evidence

castillofuerte(--AT--)airtel.net wrote:

>this is an important idea. Here where I live in Northern Spain we have a small
>group of individuals who have each gone off to plant their house church, yet
>not one of then is prepared to submit himself to another. These loose cannons
>are doing a lot of damage to the church here. I think that servant
>elder/bishops should be obeyed as authorities in the church. And anyone who
>doesn't obey a truly God appointed apostle is just plain dumb.
>

Dear Keith,

Amen, and Amen.

A broken and divided Body does not witness the truth about God. And it is past
time that we repent of our attempts to present the world with a lie, in the
Name of the Lord.

It is apparent that there is real concern among local leaders, about the
further division of the Body of Christ, and especially as their own
congregations are effected.

At the very least, we would like to see an end to the fractious practice of
coming into an area and setting up a new "church", "work", call it what you
will, and doing so without contacting existing leadership in the area. As for
me, I am convinced that anyone who thinks that his translocal associations and
credentials are license to establish a new division in a local body, "thinks
more highly of himself than he ought."

For too long the approach to ministry has been to seek a position out of which
to serve. At some point or other, institutional training has supplied the mark
of authenticity where the attainment of position is concerned. Not only is this
not Bible, it is contrary to the Bible, and Gentile in attitude, approach and
style,*. New Testament ministry is service out of which comes position, not
position, out of which comes service.

The irreducible mark of authenticity, therefore, is not institutional
credentials, it is maturity and service. While institutional credentials do not
disqualify, neither do they establish. In too many instances they have no
bearing on spiritual life or death. This must be understood if meetings of
christian leaders are to be properly inclusive and exclusive.

Yours in Christ,

Jay


------- <><><> -------


Date: Thu, 14 Feb 2002 20:57:33 EST
From: TheologusCrucis

Subject: Re: [NTCP] RE: Confronting the evidence

Dan,

I have heard what you have written in your last post by many other people in
the house church movement, and I hope that you would answer a couple of
questions to help me clarify why I hear this fear of authority not wielded by
the individual a lot? I must admit that I have been very frustrated with the
house churches that I have visited here in my region -- they have resembled
more of a commune/encounter group rather than a church, and for the life of me
I haven't been able to find any of the four gifts/people that are supposed to
be the center of a church according to Paul in Ephesians.

You wrote:

>A fundamental principle in the New Testament is that all of God's children are
>the priests to serve God. That's why there's no separate "clergy" class. .

There may not have been a "clergy class" but there were still four people --
five if you include the Elder/bishop -- that specifically had authority
according to Paul in Ephesians. Everyone was definitely not their own
shepherd/teacher, apostle, prophet, and evangelist. You have to live in modern
America to hit this idea.

These gifts, these people, were to serve the Body thru leading the body. There
is a mutual submission here, the people of the body not gifted in these areas
(yet having a gift of the Spirit nevertheless) and those who are. The writer of
Hebrews definitely told someone to obey someone in the church.

My question is -- if these people are not submitted to, can they equip the
others to be mature and to reflect the full stature of Jesus? Isn't the concept
of the priesthood of believers derived from the Jewish priesthood, in that each
person can approach God with confidence individually thru what Jesus
accomplished rather than be represented by a priest in a temple? Does this mean
we are all our own leaders?

You concluded:

>Anyway, I guess that word "bishop" still scares me

All the ancient world was culturally was a series of hierarchies, from the
family (patriarchy) to government (Ogliarchy). The Jews, as a theocracy, was
one huge God instituted hierarchy. I think we are looking at ancient history
and conforming it thru the lenses of Locke and Hume -- the ancient church just
had to be a democracy of equals with no one having authority except for the
individual.

Yet individualism as a cultural wide concept really wasn't widespread until the
1500's and then honed in the Enlightenment of the 1700s. The culture of the
first and second century would not have been scared of the concept of a single
bishop -- it would have been very natural (as well as Scriptural).

Why are you scared of the word "bishop?" I'd like to thank you in advance for
your reply -- I've been invited to speak regularly at a house church as I've
been doing for about 6 months now, and as far as I can tell from Ephesians,
they don't constitute a church but instead a support group of shared
experiences and emotions. The guy that is qualified to be the Elder absolutely
refuses to find out who is their evangelist and teacher, and all they seem to
do is meet to pray and hope that events happen serendipitously, mystically
ordered by God's Spirit. I need some insight!

TC

Dan,

I have heard what you have written in your last post by many other people in
the house church movement, and I hope that you would answer a couple of
questions to help me clarify why I hear this fear of authority not wielded by
the individual a lot? I must admit that I have been very frustrated with the
house churches that I have visited here in my region -- they have resembled
more of a commune/encounter group rather than a church, and for the life of me
I haven't been able to find any of the four gifts/people that are supposed to
be the center of a church according to Paul in Ephesians.

You wrote:

A fundamental principle in the New Testament is that all of God's children are
the priests to serve God. That's why there's no separate "clergy" class.
Because the Body is living, the whole Body needs to function.

There may not have been a "clergy class" but there were still four people --
five if you include the Elder/bishop -- that specifically had authority
according to Paul in Ephesians. Everyone was definitely not their own
shepherd/teacher, apostle, prophet, and evangelist. You have to live in modern
America to hit this idea.

These gifts, these people, were to serve the Body thru leading the body. There
is a mutual submission here, the people of the body not gifted in these areas
(yet having a gift of the Spirit nevertheless) and those who are. The writer of
Hebrews definitely told someone to obey someone in the church.

My question is -- if these people are not submitted to, can they equip the
others to be mature and to reflect the full stature of Jesus? Isn't the concept
of the priesthood of believers derived from the Jewish priesthood, in that each
person can approach God with confidence individually thru what Jesus
accomplished rather than be represented by a priest in a temple? Does this mean
we are all our own leaders?

You concluded:

Anyway, I guess that word "bishop" still scares me

All the ancient world was culturally was a series of hierarchies, from the
family (patriarchy) to government (Ogliarchy). The Jews, as a theocracy, was
one huge God instituted hierarchy. I think we are looking at ancient history
and conforming it thru the lenses of Locke and Hume -- the ancient church just
had to be a democracy of equals with no one having authority except for the
individual.

Yet individualism as a cultural wide concept really wasn't widespread until the
1500's and then honed in the Enlightenment of the 1700s. The culture of the
first and second century would not have been scared of the concept of a single
bishop -- it would have been very natural (as well as Scriptural).

Why are you scared of the word "bishop?" I'd like to thank you in advance for
your reply -- I've been invited to speak regularly at a house church as I've
been doing for about 6 months now, and as far as I can tell from Ephesians,
they don't constitute a church but instead a support group of shared
experiences and emotions. The guy that is qualified to be the Elder absolutely
refuses to find out who is their evangelist and teacher, and all they seem to
do is meet to pray and hope that events happen serendipitously, mystically
ordered by God's Spirit. I need some insight!

TC


------- <><><> -------


Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2002 06:10:56 EST
From: Steffasong
Subject: Re: [NTCP] RE: Confronting the evidence

In a message dated 02/14/2002 3:38:57 PM Eastern Standard Time,
Dan(--AT--)lsm.org writes:

>A fundamental principle in the New Testament is that all of God's children are
>the priests to serve God. That's why there's no separate "clergy" class.
>Because the Body is living, the whole Body needs to function.

Yes, this is surely a fundamental Biblical principle, Dan. I'm glad you
mentioned it.

Because the tide has risen so consistently against the priesthood of each
believer, it is important to reiterate the truth. One of the best things a
church planter'er can do is make room for the body to function. This, of
course, means laying the foundation in such a way that new believers are taught to depend on Christ instead of a bishop or 'bishop type' person.

May we consciously teach younger ones to seek the Lord and rely on Him instead
of to rely on our own second-hand wisdom and grace.

Thank you!

Stephanie Bennett

 

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