New Testament Church Proliferation Digest

 

Spreading the Gospel via House Churches

 


New Testament Church Proliferation Digest Wednesday, February 27 2002 Vol 02 : 049
[NTCP] RE: Confronting the evidence
Re: [NTCP] Entering the fray ... Apostolic gatherings?
[NTCP] Entering the fray ... Apostolic gatherings?
Re: [NTCP] RE: Confronting the evidence
[NTCP] unbiblical seminary system
[NTCP] Hockey Teams and Apostles
Re: [NTCP] Entering the fray ... Apostolic gatherings?
[NTCP] RE: Confronting the evidence

Date: Tue, 26 Feb 2002 12:28:04 +0200
From: "Deborah"
Subject: [NTCP] RE: Confronting the evidence

I had written:

>>A bishop (overseer) was not a cure-all, but he did (does) serve a purpose.
>>And his presence too was addressed in the Scriptures. You probably do have
>>one in your midst, David. If such an one desires to be a bishop, he desires
>>a good thing ... (1 Tim 3:1).

To which David A. replied:

>Hi brother,
>
>Upon closer inspection you'll see here that the literal rendering here
>pertains to a function not to an office. --Overseership.-- Assuredly, it is
>the particular function of the eldership, which is the OBVIOUS (?) context of
>1 Tim 3.
>
>So, let's just take one passage and see where this method could lead if
>consistently applied ...

Once again brother David, I have to ask what your point is. I am on record
writing that I do not see "bishop" in the NT as being an office, per se. You
had written:

>>It should raise some flags in your mind, my brother, that the translators
>>"added" the word "office" to 1 Tim. 3:1 with respect to "overseers."

To which I replied:

>I was usually reading from the NIV (they do not add the word "office," or
>anything like it) so I hadn't noticed. But you're right about many other
>translations. I also looked it up in Friberg Lexicon, United Bible Society's
>Greek Dictionary, Louw-Nida Lexicon, and the LS Greek Lexicon and they all
>used the word "office" to define what EPISKOPES means in 1 Tim. 3:1. However,
>I agree that there are possible ways to define "overseer" without resorting to
>a term like "office, which denotes a quasi-political status. (Feb 12 post,
>"Confronting the Evidence" thread)

Have I missed something? I think it might save you (... and me) some time
David, if you would please read my responses *carefully* before hitting the
books hunting for counter-evidence (I'm all for that!), then rocketing a
response my way, ... which then turns out to be a dud. Twice now. If you want
to take careful aim at my position (wait for the "THEREFORE" after the
following FACTs and INFERENCE), I will hold my target up high for you and all
to see. Once again.

FACT #1: *THE* bishop/overseer (Gk. *TON* EPISKOPON) appears twice in the NT:

"Now THE overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife,
temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, ..." (1
Tim. 3:2, emphasis mine).

"Since THE overseer is entrusted with God's work, he must be blameless-- not
overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not
pursuing dishonest gain" (Tit. 1:7, emphasis mine).

FACT #2: *THE* bishop/overseer (with the definite article) was used by
Ignatius-- the second bishop of Syrian Antioch [making him a probable
contemporary there at some time with the Apostle Paul] and who was likely
martyred between 108-115 A.D.-- to refer to "mono-bishops" in Syria (himself),
and throughout the churches in the Roman province of Asia, plus one Macedonian
church. Corroborative evidence exists in the writings of Justin Martyr (died
c. 165 A.D.) and Eusebius-- the bishop and librarian of Caesarea, Palestine
from 313-40 A.D.-- citing ancient Judean sources, though neither of the two
uses the precise Pauline phrase TON EPISKOPON:

IGNATIUS

"... and that, being subject to THE BISHOP and the presbytery, ye may in all
respects be sanctified" (IGNATIUS TO THE EPHESIANS).

"Since, then, I have had the privilege of seeing you, through Damas your most
worthy bishop, and through your worthy presbyters Bassus and Apollonius, and
through my fellow-servant the deacon Sotio, whose friendship may I ever enjoy,
inasmuch as he, by the grace of God, is subject to THE BISHOP and presbytery,
in the law of Jesus Christ" (IGNATIUS TO THE MAGNESIANS).

"Be ye subject to THE BISHOP as to the Lord, for 'he watches for your souls, as
one that shall give account to God' " (IGNATIUS TO THE TRALLIANS).

"... that God has deemed me, THE BISHOP of Syria, worthy to be sent for from
the east unto the west, and to become a martyr in behalf of His own precious
sufferings, so as to pass from the world to God, that I may rise again unto
Him" (IGNATIUS TO THE ROMANS).

"[You] I salute in the blood of Jesus Christ, who is our eternal and enduring
joy, especially if men are in unity with THE BISHOP, the presbyters, and the
deacons, who have been appointed according to the mind of Jesus Christ ..."
(IGNATIUS TO THE PHILADEPHIANS).

JUSTIN:

"There is then brought to THE PRESIDENT of the brethren bread and a cup of wine
mixed with water; and he taking them, gives praise and glory to the Father of
the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and offers
thanks at considerable length for our being counted worthy to receive these
things at His hands. And when he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings,
all the people present express their assent by saying Amen. This word Amen
answers in the Hebrew language to "genoito" [Gk. for "so be it"]. And when THE
PRESIDENT has given thanks, and all the people have expressed their assent,
those who are called by us deacons give to each of those present to partake of
the bread and wine mixed with water over which the thanksgiving was pronounced,
and to those who are absent they carry away a portion."

"And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather
together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the
prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased,
THE PRESIDENT verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good
things."

"Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is
ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and THE PRESIDENT in like manner
offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people
assent, saying Amen ..."

"And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what
is collected is deposited with THE PRESIDENT, who succours the orphans and
widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and
those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word
takes care of all who are in need" (FIRST APOLOGIA [i.e. defense] chapter LXV).

EUSEBIUS:

"Symeon likewise was at that time *THE* SECOND RULER of the church of
Jerusalem, the brother of our Saviour [James-- MICHAEL] having been *THE*
FIRST"

"But when Symeon also had died in the manner described, A *CERTAIN* JEW by the
name of Justus succeeded to *THE* EPISCOPAL THRONE of Jerusalem. He was one of
the many thousands of the circumcision who at that time believed in Christ"
((ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY book III, xxii; xxxv).

FACT #3: Elders and bishop/overseers (Gk. PRESBUTEROUS and EPISKOPOUS,
inflected variously) are equated twice in the NT:

"From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the ELDERS of the church" (Act. 20:17)

... compared with:

"Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made
you OVERSEERS" (Act 20:28)

Then in Tit. 1:6:

"An ELDER must be blameless, the husband of but one wife, a man whose children
believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient."

... compared with:

"Since an OVERSEER is entrusted with God's work, he must be blameless ..."
(Tit. 1:7).

FACT #4: The extant ancient writings of and about the Apostolic Church (that
expression of Christ's Body which existed during the time of at least one
living Jesus-seeing Apostle) always portray MONOEPISCOPACIES positively. No
condemnation of the practice exists.

FACT #5: The extant ancient writings of the Ante-Nicene Church (that expression
of Christ's Body which existed from the time directly after John died [c. 100
A.D.] until the Nicene Counsel of 325 A.D.) always portray MONOEPISCOPACIES
positively. No condemnation of the practice exists.

INFERENCE: * Since the biblical language of 1 Tim. 3:2 and Tit. 1:7 (*THE
bishop/overseer) leaves open the interpretive possibility of permission for
MONOEPISCOPACIES, * and since no specific biblical commandments or examples
exist which are *against* MONOEPISCOPACY, * and since the historical records
portray MONOEPISCOPACIES in the leading churches of the Roman empire--
including Jerusalem and Rome-- from the earliest times, * and since some of
those who learned their doctrine directly from Jesus-seeing Apostles did
interpret 1 Tim. 3:2 and Tit. 1:7 this way, for they in fact practiced
MONOEPISCOPACY, * and since some of those who learned their doctrine directly
from disciples of Jesus-seeing Apostles were likewise practicing
MONOEPISCOPACY, * and since there is no censorship of the practice in *all* of
the biblical or Apostolic ("Fathers'") or Ante-Nicene writings ...

THEREFORE (for those of you who were unclear, this is the target you are trying
to hit-- my official stance): At the very least, *some* churches of the world
today are free to practice MONOEPISCOPACY. Or to put it another way, people
should *not* make universal assessments that it is unbiblical or unwise to have
a mono-pastor/elder/bishop/overseer style church polity. I agree David, that
bishop/overseer are equated in the NT. I also agree that overseeing was one of
the functions of NT elders. But since polity specifics on this issue are left
undefined in the Bible, I do not see the developments from bishop at a local
congregation level to bishop over all the congregations in that city/locale as
necessarily being unbiblical-- though, as I said, I personally am "restoration"
in my thinking and therefore think it is better to keep our church structure
based on what is modeled in the NT. Nevertheless, I am not prepared to say
that someone who follows a polity similar to the post-biblical ancient Church
is in error. And I don't think people on this list should either.

SIDE NOTE: From some sources dating to within about a decade after the Apostle
John's death, we see that mono-bishops of leading congregations throughout
various sectors of the Roman empire were distinguished from the general
presbytery of their respective churches. Though this is not part of my official
position, I include the following-- all originally written *way before* the
400s-- just to counter brother Lightfoot's unsupported claim that "the modern
episcopate came into its own by the THIRD century A.D." You tell me what you
see, David:

"... and that, being subject to THE BISHOP and THE PRESBYTERY, ye may in all
respects be sanctified" (IGNATIUS TO THE EPHESIANS, Asia).

"Since, then, I have had the privilege of seeing you, through DAMAS YOUR MOST
WORTHY BISHOP, and through YOUR WORTHY PRESBYTERS BASSUS and APOLLONIUS, and
through my fellow-servant THE DEACON SOTIO, whose friendship may I ever enjoy,
inasmuch as he, by the grace of God, is subject to THE BISHOP and PRESBYTERY,
in the law of Jesus Christ" (IGNATIUS TO THE MAGNESIANS, Asia).

"And what is THE PRESBYTERY but a sacred assembly, the counsellors and
assessors of THE BISHOP?" (IGNATIUS TO THE TRALLIANS, Asia).

"[You] I salute in the blood of Jesus Christ, who is our eternal and enduring
joy, especially if men are in unity with THE BISHOP, THE PRESBYTERS, and THE
DEACONS, who have been appointed according to the mind of Jesus Christ ..."
(IGNATIUS TO THE PHILADEPHIANS, Macedonia).

"... [serve] as the holy Stephen did at Jerusalem to JAMES and THE PRESBYTERS"
(IGNATIUS TO HERO, a deacon of his home church in Antioch who later succeeded
Ignatius as bishop-- writing about the early Jerusalem church).

"And THE PRESBYTERS preceding Sorer in the government of the Church which THOU
["singular," THE bishop, Florinus] DOST NOW RULE ..." (FRAGMENTS FROM THE LOST
WRITINGS OF IRENAEUS-- "Letter To Florinus," another disciple of Polycarp;
Irenaus, [c. 130-200 A.D.] was himself called "hearer of Polycarp-- Asia).

"POLYCARP, and THE PRESBYTERS WITH HIM, to the Church of God sojourning at
Philippi: Mercy to you, and peace from God Almighty, and from the Lord Jesus
Christ, our Saviour, be multiplied" (POLYCARP TO THE PHILIPPIANS, church
planter. opening comments of IGNATIUS TO POLYCARP-- "the bishop of the Smyrna,"
Asia).

Writings with uncertain dates which still almost surely reflect this earlier
time-period include:

"Moreover, let not A BISHOP be exalted against HIS DEACONS AND PRESBYTERS, nor
the presbyters against the people: for the subsistence of the congregation
depends on each other" (CONSTITUTIONS OF THE HOLY APOSTLES. book VIII).

And:

"And the king having seen these things from the upper part of the house, and
being terror-struck, went forth from the palace, and ran ... and fell down
before THE BISHOP, and THE PRESBYTERS, and THE DEACONS, in repentance and
confession, saying: 'Truly I believe in the true God, Christ Jesus'" (ACTS AND
MARTYRDOM OF ST. MATTHEW THE APOSTLE).

Michael
Jerusalem


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


Date: Tue, 26 Feb 2002 12:37:38 -0500
From: "Samuel Buick"
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Entering the fray ... Apostolic gatherings?

Hi there List!

All appears quiet on all the fronts!

As Dan is so 'desperate' for some action, I thought I would enter the fray
(hopefully the 'battle of bishops' is over!).

I would proposes this actually as a topic on the house church List.

I was discussing with a brother the house church/institutional church and City
church and the revelation came to me during the discussion.

I have heard countless times from people within cell based churches complaints
about their big celebration meetings. Many feel that the cell gathering is
more 'church like' than the 'church meeting'! It dawned on me as we were
talking about citywide apostolic gatherings (gatherings of the entire body of
Christ) that the actual institutional church Sunday meetings were in actuality
apostolic meetings, but the ones running them don't know that! They think
their massive gatherings are in fact church, which IMHO they are not at all!

I was interacting with Link when he suggested I post this for discussion. So
here goes. In fact Link commented to the above by asking these questions:

>Apostolic meetings often without apostles, maybe? By 'apostolic >meeting' do
>you mean the types of meetings on Solomon's porch where >the apostles would
>teach the people? Maybe you should offer this as a >topic for discussion on
>the forum.

So List, what say you? Do you think the reason we battle and war house church
versus institutional church is that we both have a peice of the puzzle, but
the our respective peices can only be one and not the other.

institutional churches believe their meetings are 'church'. house churches do
not believe that. I am with the house churches on this one. But, if Paul had
large gatherings, be they in fields, large estates, or rented halls, are these
meetins, for the sake of argument, call them apostolic meetings, what are their
purpose? Are they to teach,to impart vision? What should such meetings look
like? Should food (Pot Blessing) be a part of them? What exactly would be the
purpose of such a meeting? How frequently should they be held? Would once
ever two months be too much or too little? Should the entire body of Christ in
a city or region be invited, or only the house churches in a region or city?
What exactly is our vision of Church? Of body life? What if revelation came to
the institutional churches and they understood that they had more in common
with apostolic meetings, could house churches come alongside and help them see
the validity of house churches and likewise would house churches be humble
enough to explore the potential of apostolic gatherings where the body of
Christ gathers together?

Just asking guys and gals!

Blessings,

Sam


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


Date: Tue, 26 Feb 2002 15:03:50 -0800
From: Dan Snyder
Subject: [NTCP] Entering the fray ... Apostolic gatherings?

Sam writes:
>
Amen Sam.

Thanks for starting up some "action". It sounds like you brothers may have been
getting into Watchman Nee's book "The Normal Christian Church Life". He gets
into this matter in the last chapter of that book.

He makes a good distinction between what you call "apostolic meetings"
(although the same principle could apply to ministry meetings by any of the
gifted members in Eph. 4)... and church meetings.

The distinction is that with ministry meetings the activity is on one side. The
one member is ministering to help perfect the others. Church meetings on the
other hand have the hallmark of mutuality. "Each one has", "exhorting one
another", etc.

If the gifted ones are clear, they may carry out some meetings to help the
churches, but they would never replace the church meetings. They would never
settle down and build up a "congregation" around themselves. Everything they
have is for the churches.

One of the big failures of the "pastor system" is that it mixes up the
principles. It takes a single man (who may or may not be a gifted member) and
makes it his job to speak... and that's called "church".

It's a little like having the hockey team listen to the coach talk for an hour
and calling that "the game".

Sam, thanks for opening up this topic. I believe it involves the same principle
as the "bishop" thread - yet at a very grassroots and practical level. Let's
see where it takes us!

Dan

Ps. Here's a thought - Does a city-wide meeting have to be "apostolic" in
nature (especially if there's no apostle around!). Could it be a church
meeting? Could the scattered saints just come together at an agreed upon time
and place... and meet in mutuality?


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


Date: Tue, 26 Feb 2002 18:06:42 -0500
From: David Anderson
Subject: Re: [NTCP] RE: Confronting the evidence

Hi Micheal,

I took da week-end off. Whata wuz we discussin? :-D

First, why O why do you keep quoting Ignatius? He did NOT teach that the
overseers and elders were the same - a thing which you just acknowledged is
this same message?!?! Why are you bringing his testimonies to us as "evidence?"
Do you think you can have it both ways?

Your message is a huge self-contradiction, my brother. You write that you have
made the connection between the elders and their fatherly role as overseers yet
you capitalize over and over all these passages about THE PRESIDENT and THE
OVERSEER and THE BISHOP with all of HIS SUBORDINATES, the other PRESBYTERS. :-(

Mike S already gave you a cordial nudge concerning the Greek definite article
which differs from our own usages. Lay Greek aside, consider your modus operand
with respect to a simple statement in English. Pointing into my mouth, I
declare: "The tooth is a sign of God's creative genius. The tooth must have a
steady blood supply. Etc." Would you then infer that I only had ONE tooth??? Or
that one tooth was much, much larger in size than the others??? Well, that's
how you seem to handle "THE bishop."

Ignatius is not the solution but the problem according to many in whose company
it would be very unwise to draw your sword. Can you name for me ONE historian,
Mike, who attributes a body of equal-in-rank elder-bishops, to the teachings
and practices of Ignatius? If you cannot, I am going to have to conclude that
both of your feet are still firmly planted in mid air with respect to this
matter. (Hey, join the club, bro.
:0) I have to reverse my thinking very frequently. )

OK, you need, imo, to go beyond the didactic "requirement passages" in "the
Pastorals" to the daily narratives and histories and admit to ntcp that there
is NO NADA ZIP ZERO record of a church with ONE elder. Now don't quickly flip
the dial to the Church Father channel again which you have done so often
before.

Here's the reason that a plurality of elders is ALWAYS addressed in the day by
day scriptural accounts: older ones are/were in EVERY social setting to which
the gospel went. Period.

>THEREFORE (for those of you who were unclear, this is the target you are
>trying to hit-- my official stance): At the very least, *some* churches of the
>world today are free to practice MONOEPISCOPACY. Or to put it another way,
>people should *not* make universal assessments that it is unbiblical or unwise
>to have a mono-pastor/elder/bishop/overseer style church polity.

What would these churches look like, pray tell? If the church was comprised of
just two people this would be possible to have one "older one" but we already
agreed to that. But it AIN'T' THE NORM.

NO - a millions times no, my brother - EVERY-ALL-EACH christian
elder/senior/older one is commanded, commissioned, charged to be a shepherd,
overseer, and teacher. YOUR plan REMOVES all but one from their God-ordained
role in each church. THIS IS PRECISELY THE EFFECT OF IGNATIUS AND MANY OTHERS,
NO DOUBT.

The cumulative effect of this humongus dereliction of duty is impossible to
calculate over the centuries. Not to mention the lost joys of participation and
ministry. Makes me shiver just to think about it. Saddest words of tongue or
pen - the words: "it might have been." Sins of omission - sins that separate
people from God for all eternity. "I was... and you did not minister unto me.
Depart... - Jesus"

You know, Mike, I am in the Teamsters Union. Guess how many checks the average
retiree draws. 18. Many of these older guys have little or nothing to live for
and feel useless and just take the downhill spiral. Many of these men are the
unseen victims of your unreal theory of church polity which strips them of
their purpose, duty, and dignity.

sincerely, ybic

David Anderson


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


Date: Wed, 27 Feb 2002 09:28:22 +0700
From: Link Hudson
Subject: [NTCP] unbiblical seminary system

I've been thinking about some of the unbiblical aspects of the seminary and
Bible college system:

* While he who is instructed in the word should share all good things with him
that teaches, is it right to teach some about the things of God, to prepare him
for ministry ONLY if he comes up with a certain amount of cash two or three
times a year?

Can you imagine Paul saying to Timothy, "You've been a great helper, and I know
you are having financial problems, but if you don't come up with your tuition
money to help me buy some tents, you've got to go back to Derby."?

* Those who don't qualify for overseership, in terms of character, can
graduate. Many churches will hire them as 'pastors' based on their education.

In some countries, parents may send their naughty teens away to Bible college
when they graduate high school to straighten them out. Four years later, these
young people are given pulpits.

* Bible colleges, and even seminaries sometimes attract the young. Young men,
cut out for marriage, who haven't even been married yet are expected to counsel
couples contemplating divorce. Young men who have not experience running a
household are given charge over the household of faith.

'Elder' implies age. I Timothy 5:1 is a good indication of this. So is I
Peter 5, which addresses the elders, and then tells the younger to submit to
the elder. The Bible college system often attracts people at the wrong stage
of life to be elders, and many accept Bible college or seminary credentials as
the requirement for church overseership, rather than the Biblical
qualifications.

* Seminary grads expect a job.

Seminaries and Bible colelges are like the universities of the world in many
ways. If someone gets a degree in engineering, borrowing money or working late
hours to get his degree, he expects to get a job and be renumerated for the
money he put into his education.

Many who graduate from Bible college expect to get a job. After all, they put
in all that time working on their degree and may have taken out student loans.
Some graduates may want to hold out for a pastoring job that pays a certain
amount of money. The Bible teaches that elders are to pastor 'not for filthy
lucre.' The Bible college and seminary system sure presents a temptation for
students to make decisions on where to pastor based on how much cash they will
get for services performed, the philosophy by which one gets a secular job.

* The seminary system leaves many men with no viable livliehood besides
pastoring.

Many pastors are skilled men, who could do other administrative type jobs.
However, if someone goes to Bible college and then to seminary, and never
learns another trade, this can present difficulties for him and the church.

>From time to time we hear of pastors who fall into financial or sexual
>immorality. Some get separated from their wives. many of these men would do
>well to step back from church overseership and get their own lives and
>households in order. But men like this who have no other trade or skills that
>pay enough to feed a family find it difficult to step down from the pulpit for
>a while.

Paul knew how to make tents. This trade helped him support himself and others
when he found himself in situations where he could keep people from speaking
evil of him and the Gospel by working rather than living off of gifts. He
didn't have to beg when finances got tight. He had a skill.

Isn't it a good idea for someone who leads late night church meetings to know
what it feels like to have to get up early and go to work on Monday morning?
Some pastors go to Bible college and then seminary, and don't work a regular
full-time job all their lives except for pastoring churches. How can they
relate to the struggles of working around unbelievers who tell dirty jokes?

Ministers who spend time working out int he world also have more of an
opportunity to share their faith with others.

* The seminary does the work that should be done by the local church and
traveling ministers.

How were leaders taught in the New Testament? The apostles brought them the
Gospel. The apostles took the education to the saints, and the saints learned
the Gospel.

II Timothy 2:2 shows us a method for teaching leaders in the local church.
Timothy was to teach what he had learned to faithful men, that they may, in
turn be able to teach others. The early church did not have seminaries.

Seminaries are probably so popular because local churches and traveling
ministers often do not give an in-depth education of the Bible, theology, and
church history. Many churches expect ministers to learn ministerial schools in
school, rather than realizing that the Biblical norm is for less mature
ministers to learn from the more mature.

If, from an early age, every believer were taught systematically throughout the
entire Bible, taught some church history, theology, apologetics, and maybe even
Biblical languages why would we need seminaries? Some Jewish communities teach
their children all about Judaism and even Hebrew. If churches were committed
to thoroughly educating the next generation of believers all about the faith,
perhaps we would see not need for seminaries.

Those with seminary educations could help by teaching others their knowledge.
This type of church education system would only work if regular believers
started exercising their gifts, rather than relying on the so-called 'clergy'
to do it all.

* Seminary education is not a Biblical requirement for ministry.

The list of requirements for overseership says nothing about a seminary degree.
The requirements are often ignored, and a degree is accepted in their place by
some churches searching for pastors. * Seminary education is sometimes more
'cerebral' than practical.

The training that Paul gave Timothy was not merely academic. Timothy saw
Paul's manner of life, and emulated it. Where could Paul have learned such a
method of education? Father-son education is an ancient method of learning.
Methoring relationships were common inPaul's day.

Perhaps a better question to ask is, "How did Jesus train up leaders?" Did
Jesus send the Twelve to Bible college? Did he open a school with Himself as a
professor? Though Jesus studied the scriptures with His disciples, much of
their training came from hands-on assignments Christ gave them. Jesus
modeledhow to live to His disciples. They saw how Jesus broke bread. They saw
how He dealt with people. they saw what His priorities were.

* Early church elders were raised up from within their own congregation.

Paul and Barnabas appointed eldrs from within the congregations they planted.
They didn't fine fresh seminary graduates to go pastor churches that they did
not know. Paul did send Timothy back to churches to help strengthen them.
Timothy went to Ephesus, where he had participated early on in the work there,
and probably appointed elders before eventually leaving.

Titus was instructed to appoint elders in every city. Notice that Paul didn't
tell Titus to go find elders elsewhere and send them to these cities.

The idea of an man growing within his church and eventually becoming an elder
makes perfect sense. One generation of church reproduces the next, with no
need for an external seminary system. In this way, a church is highly
'reproducible.'

* Seminaries and Bible colleges are to slow for a quickly growing church
movement.

On some missions fields, the Gospel grows quickly. this was the case in the
first century. Rapidly growing churches need leaders to develop quickly.
Churches should be educating all believers, and letting the Lord turn those He
choses into teachers. Elders should be training younger men to do ministry, so
that when they mature more, some of them can also be elders. Traveling
ministers should pour themselves into younger ministers to train them.

The early church was reproducible. The first believers could encourage and
train the next group of believers to come in, and so on. Timothy taught
faithful men that they may be able to teach others also. The church is suposed
to produce leaders.

Unfortunately, many don't realize this pattern in the scriptures. Some don't
even care to recognize ministers trained outside of a seminary system.

Missionaries from the west take the idea of the seminary system to countries
where there are few Christians. The result is that these countries are left
with a slow, expensive way to train up new leaders. These schools often
attract the young. So, in many cases, the leaders they train are still
'youngers' when they graduate, rather than 'elders.'

* Is there no place for the seminary? Hebrew and Greek may be difficult to
teach in a local church setting at this point. Serminaries may be a useful
tool for those who want to be scholars. But, if churches were truly committed
to educating believers, it is possible for one generation of believers to
educate the next in Greek and Hebrew.

* What can we do? We can make a commitment to educate our own children, and
the Christians in our own church. As we mature, we can pour our lives into
younger believers, teaching them what we know. Churches can adopt teaching the
next generation of believers as one of their main responsibilities. And
seminaries can make a self-sacrificial goal of teaching ministers to take
education to the church, and phase themselves out over time. They can teach
graduates that being a seminary graduate doesn't qualify them for ministry, and
certainly not for overseership of a local church.

Link Hudson


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


Date: Tue, 26 Feb 2002 21:57:38 EST
From: Steffasong
Subject: [NTCP] Hockey Teams and Apostles

In a message dated 02/26/2002 6:02:35 PM Eastern Standard Time,
Dan(--AT--)lsm.org writes:
>
>It's a little like having the hockey team listen to the coach talk for an hour
>and calling that "the game".

I liked that, Dan. It made me chuckle. I never would have thought of putting
it that way, but it certainly describes the scenario well.

Now that we are in this thread, I would like to tell you all what went on last
Saturday here in South Florida.

It started with a word going out to invite women from many different area
churches to gather together to have a 'prayer breakfast.' I wrote an
invitation to the local papers, calling women to pray. The theme was Ephesians
4:4.

The women in our local meetings all prayed, contributed food, etc., so there
was no charge to come, but I was the one collecting reservations, so I know
there were baptists, presbyterians, lutherans homechurchers, charismatics,
non-chrsmatics, and the unchurched all present.

At least 7 of the women from our fellowship came together to make preparations,
food, and all the plans for the morning. Some of the local brothers also
showed up to help us set up. What ensued was a beautiful morning of ministry
to the local community, -- but it did not come out of thin air, or one person's
colorful bag of gifts. The ministry came out of the church. That encouraged
me.

Anyway, although one woman spearheaded it, it was not about her. Another
woman, gifted in teaching, was asked to expound on the Word. The meeting was
not about her either. At the end of the meeting, many were praying for each
other, talking, get to know one another, embracing, weeping, othere, quietly
seeking the Lord. Quite a few came up to me from the other church expressions
and said they'd love to see this again, and in the future they'd love to help.
One woman wondered why this sort of event had never happened before in our city
(although I'm not sure that it NEVER happened, perhaps we just don't know about
it), and expressed a strong desire to see God's people come together like this
in the one Body.

The event blest the community because the work of the ministry went forth, but
it also blest the church because we were able to work together in our various
gifting to prepare for the ministry.

I'm happy just to see the Lord move, and His people come together to be
refreshed by Him and enjoy the fellowship of each other, but what I want to
know is, do you consider that apostolic ministry?

If so, what part is apostolic?

All the best,

Stephanie Bennett
Creative Services & Consulting Marketing Solutions for the
21st Century


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


Date: Tue, 26 Feb 2002 23:24:31 EST
From: JAMESRUTZ
Subject: Re: [NTCP] Entering the fray ... Apostolic gatherings?

Hi, all!

Just a note from your first-ever "semi-retired" member: Today's P.S. from Dan
....

....is absolutely vital. In my upcoming book, I use bold face type on only one
section, and that is the part that talks about larger meetings. They MUST
retain the participatory element, or they will crash...AND POSSIBLY TAKE MUCH
OF THE house church MOVEMENT WITH THEM. Without a deliberate, constant effort
to include rank-and-file believers who happen to have something important to
contribute, they will become mere forums for the bigger-name leaders ... who
typically mouth platitudes in citywide "celebration" meetings. We must somehow
provide platforms for ordinary Christians to use their gifts and widen their
ministries. A flow-through city church will allow for body life and keep the
big rallies from becoming a dead end for us nobodies. Few house church people
understand this. The word "celebration" seems to shut off all rational
thought.

Cordially,

Jim Rutz Colorado Springs


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


Date: Wed, 27 Feb 2002 09:55:53 +0200
From: "Deborah"
Subject: [NTCP] RE: Confronting the evidence

Dan S. wrote on the "Question about bishops" thread:

>...when it's a matter of traditions vs. the Word, authority rests with God's
>Word.

Agreed. The authority rests with God's canonized word, because it is inspired
and the "fathers" are not. So we're together on that. But for something to be
*against* ("vs.") God's word, that word must have drawn a line against it. No
line has been drawn against MONOEPISCOPACY, Dan. Nor against the natural
development of an overseer over all the congregations in a city/locale.
Therefore, it is not illegitimate for me or others to look at those who
inherited the Apostles' teachings firsthand to help us gain some better insight
as to how we may interpret the indefinite topic of elders and overseers. (see
I'm not even using the "b" word today. ;-))

When I'm at an exegetical stalemate, I can go to brothers Ignatius, Polycarp,
or Ireneaus (... etc.) for help, or I could go to brothers Luther, Calvin, Fox,
Matthew Henry, or Wolfgang Simpson. Or I could even go to you. But who do you
think is more likely to have gotten more of their facts straight? ... to have
understood the nuances of those parts of the NT which are left indefinite?
There are those who conversed with the Apostles, and/or their immediate
disciples. In their native languages. In the Mediterranean region. Without
the passage of a millenium or two. Then there are those from Northern Europe
who were struggling in a situation altogether different than the context of the
NT writers, and who in their attempts to apply the timeless word of God thereby
unwhittingly created an entire theology by analogy ("Jew doesn't mean Jew to us
but equals a religious Catholic devoid of a real relationship with Christ," and
"'works of the Law' doesn't mean "purification legislation designed to separate
Jews from gentiles, but means to us any of the acts of trying to earn salvation
through the Catholic system of merits and indulgences). Then there are those
who built upon the foundation of the analogy-theology, taking the analogy one
or two steps further as they applied an already biblically-removed belief
system to their situation(s) in the 1600s, 1700s, or even the 2000s. So who
would you go to for a little help? You know who I would go to.

Yes I too have the Holy Spirit, and He is my teacher, but there are parts of
the word which are not absolutely defined. No matter how dependent we may be
on Him for the "revelation". What do we do then? Is it wrong to view the
trajectory of a biblical topic like a ball, watching it from its starting place
(the NT), then as it goes out of sight (indefiniteness), then to note where it
falls nearby (interpretation/application by the ancient church), ... and then
afterwards to retrace its flight in order to make contemporary application
(based on the two known points: point of origin [NT] and landing point [ancient
church application])? That is how I am using the writings of the ancient
church. Uninspired though they may be. As an anointed teacher of God's holy
word, this is where God has led me to go to with this useful information.
Sorry you don't see our ancient brothers' writings in the same way.

>Wanna try the question again?

You know the answer to your own question. And you likewise know that I will
say that the BIBLE does not witness elders or overseers at anything but the
local level ... however (stubborn "coot" that I am) I will also add that since
the Scripture does not forbid a overseer-over-multiple-congregations polity,
nor does it in the least frown upon such a structure, I would not tell someone
that they were wrong if they had or intended to have a polity similar to the
hearers of the Apostles. Would you? If so, upon what would you base your
absolute position?

Stephanie wrote:

>History points to countless believers and groups of believers being swallowed
>up in heresy and fruitlessness because of an intensity to perfectly quote
>chapter and verse on every issue we can discuss. Therefore, it is my desire to
>always seek the very heart of God's desire when we discuss scriptural
>interpretation.

My contention in this discussion is that you *cannot know* the "heart of God's
desire" unless you can pinpoint that "heart" in Scripture. The human heart is
deceitful, sister! Desperately so!!! History is more replete with examples of
believers and groups of believers gone astray because they thought they knew
"God's desire" apart from the word. If we don't base our opinions of what
"God's desire" is on clearly defined scriptural parameters, it is just my
subjective opinion against your subjective opinion. A lose-lose situation. I
remain unconvinced about your objections to MONOEPISCOPACY because they are not
rooted in God's inspired revelation. Just some undefined uneasiness on your
part.

David Anderson wrote on the "Unable to let go" thread:

>"Mono-bishopry at its worst"

But you must know brother, that it is never enough in a debate to simply show
something at its worst and think that proves anything. It is when you can
reasonably disprove something in its best form that you have also defeated it
at its worst. Then you know it was the item itself and not just some
degenerated form of it which was fundamentally flawed.

Jay wrote:

>This word picture is a very serious indictment against the Catholic position
>that the authority of the church is equal with the authority of the Scripture.

GREAT LEAPING LOGIC, Jay-man!!! I don't believe that the authority of the
Church is equal to that of the Bible. The Scripture provides the standard for
the Church. But there are times when we need tools such as Strong's, Vine's,
Bible Background Commentary, etc. to help illuminate certain sections of
Scripture. This is how I view the Ante-Nicene writings. If you choose to
ignore their witness because they didn't make it into the canon, that is your
business. I just don't think yours is necessarily the wisest postion, that's
all.

>The implied answer to Paul's question is a fairly significant boundary, and
>consistent with what we have said above: "Is Christ divided?"
>
>I think not. So, consistent with the word picture you used with Stephanie, I
>would have to say that when we have more then one church in a geographical
>place, it looks to the world as though Christ is into adultary and divorce.
>
>Again, I think not. So we get into the problem of my bishop can beat up your
>bishop. This will never do. Let's not start our discussion by white washing
>the status quo organization(s) of the church.

I'm not sure I'm catching your drift here .... If the ancient church often had
one bishop serving several local expressions of Christ's one body, how is that
"divi[sion]"? I don't want to "white wash[] the status quo". God forbid! But
neither do I want to demonize that which is not censured in the least by the
"plumb line".

Michael
Jerusalem


End of New Testament Church Proliferation Digest V2 #49

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