New Testament Church Proliferation Digest

Spreading the Gospel via House Churches

NT Church Proliferation Digest Wednesday, October 16 2002 Volume 02 : Number 181
RE: [NTCP] How do you define community?
Re: [NTCP] How do you define community?
[NTCP] synagogue
Re: [NTCP] synagogue
Re: [NTCP] synagogue
Re: [NTCP] synagogue
Re: [NTCP] synagogue
RE: [NTCP] synagogue
Re: [NTCP] In defense of liberty

Date: Mon, 14 Oct 2002 18:04:54 -0600
From: "JC Elder" <jcelder1 * earthlink>
Subject: RE: [NTCP] How do you define community?

I agree with what the scripture teaches. What I am looking for is how that
looks in everyday life on earth....


- -----Original Message-----
From: owner-ntcp * homechurch [mailto:owner-ntcp * homechurch]On
Behalf Of jferris
Sent: Monday, October 14, 2002 12:42 AM
To: ntcp * homechurch
Subject: Re: [NTCP] How do you define community?
JC Elder wrote:

>Hello All,
>I don't' post alot, but I do enjoy reading the discussions on the list. I
>have a question that may be a repeat. Please forgive me if I missed this.
>I was told recently that I really don't know what "community" is. I was
>wondering if some of you could define for me what you think community (or
>living in community) means. Also, how do you teach/show community to
>who have never know it?
Dear JC,

"And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one
soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he
possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great
power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus:
and great grace was upon them
all. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were
possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the
things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and
distribution was made unto every man according as he had need." Acts 4:32

This would be my vote. The "one heart and one soul" was the fruit of the
"great grace that was upon them all". This to say, it was grace that put
them together, not a program, a good idea or a common theology.

This to say, Jesus was Lord of relationship, and the result was oneness
in a place, rather than division in a place.

Yours in Christ,


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

Date: Mon, 14 Oct 2002 23:26:20 -0400
From: jferris <jferris154 * mac>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] How do you define community?

JC Elder wrote:

>I agree with what the scripture teaches. What I am looking for is how that
>looks in everyday life on earth....
In brief, in my experience, it looks like the slaughter of the
innocents. Jesus brought us life, men bring us meetings and buildings.
Life is bad for the meeting/building business, so everything possible is
done to make life illegal so that the institutions of men don't go out
of business. Religious zealots spoil whole households. Households are
the basic building blocks of community. They are also very vulnerable
governmentally. Our practice of evangelism, and "church growth" is a
great deal like network marketing. Very competive, very aggresive, with
a lot of emphasis on hyping the product or the way of thinking. Problem
is, network marketing is a relational predator. Community is all about
relationship, first of all with Him, and from Him, with each other.

Our systematic theologies offer us, in fact really insist on, another
basis for relationship, a basis other than the Lordship of Christ.

Your question is a very good one, and the pursuit of the answer is also
the pursuit of the answer to Jesus prayer in John 17:21. May God richly
bless you in the pursuit of the community where Jesus Christ is Lord,
and not some lesser name or system.


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

Date: Tue, 15 Oct 2002 13:21:40 +0200
From: "Deborah" <deborah.millier * juccampus>
Subject: [NTCP] synagogue

David A. wrote:

> I'm not interested in alleged
> exceptions leading up to a
> divine warrant for church
> buildings (or a mono-bishop).
> Looking for exceptions and
> building upon them was the
> modus oporandi of the Pharisees.

Looking for the exception is actually related to logic, brother. If
somebody makes an absolute statement like ...

"There was *no special building* ... , only people!" Walter Oetting, The
Church of the Catacombs (emphasis mine)

... or ...

"When the church was very young, it had *no buildings* .... the early
church possessed *no buildings* and carried on its work for a great many
years without erecting any." Ernest Loosley, When The Church Was Young
(emphasis mine).

... or even ...

> Suggest that the church building is *unscriptural*
> .... And yet, this is *exactly what I claim*. On
> the basis of Scripture and history (emphasis mine)

... then all I'm logically required to produce is ONE exception to disprove
the claim. I've done that. If these folks (above, and those quoted
throughout the Sep. 25 post on the "Some gems for our nugget loving
readership" thread) had simply said something like, "The early church almost
always met in houses" or "rarely did they meet in specially built
structures," then I would *not* have posted a rebuttal. Who could argue
with that?!?! But to write a book that says that the church had "no special
buildings," or a post which asserts that "Scripture and history" supports
such an absolute "claims[s]" merely requires a dissenter such as myself to
produce ONE exception from both categories (Scripture and history) to
discredit the claim. Logically. Hence my tendency to focus on the
exception-- both here and in the "mono-bishop" thread.

> I would also caution you about taking what the
> Jews did as valid evidence for our practices.

Well shucks David, ... which Jews do you mean? The ones who wrote the
NT (Matthew, Mark, John, Paul, Writer of Hebrews, James, Peter, Jude, etc.)?
Forget that they were Jews too, did you? What, do you think they suddenly
"chucked" their culture wholesale when they were baptized in the H.S.? The
scriptural evidence is against you then.

Or do you mean those other Jews to whom the earliest disciples still
remained in relative submission all their lives?

"Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: 'The
scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. Therefore whatever they tell
you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works;
for they say, and do not do" (Mat. 23:1-3-- Christ's charge against most
scribes and Pharisees was their *hypocrisy*, not their orthodoxy).

"And those who stood by said, 'Do you revile God's high priest?' Then Paul
said, 'I did not know, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is
written, "You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people." ' " (Act.
23:4, 5-- There's Paul obeying that Law again! The Sadduccean leadership
had bad theology and hypocrisy to boot, but Paul still submitted to them
when they were right)

So please tell me, brother. The practices of which Jews am I to beware of?
I agree that an uncritical acceptance of "everything Jewish" would
certainly lead me astray. Hopefully I'm a little more cautious than that.
However, historical context in exegesis demands that we modern Christians
allow the earliest believers in Jesus to remain who they were. Jews who
believed in Jesus. And their culture(s) formed part of the framework
through which they interpreted and communicated God's revelation to their
world. And to us. Therefore it behooves *every* serious student of the
Bible to learn more of 1st century Jewish "practices" and beliefs, and to
recognise that God's word comes to us mediated by several factors-- Jewish
"practices" being just one.

A good starting place toward that worthy goal is a 932 page single
volume work entitled THE JEWISH NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY, by David H. Stern
(Clarkesville, MD: Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc., 1992). Well
worth the modest price! Around $40.00. A goldmine of background
information that will bring the NT to life as never before! And VERY
readable; not technical in the least. Except he does render familiar names
such as Matthew and Saul back into their Jewish originals (e.g. Mattityahu,
Sha'ul). It is available in many Christian bookstores, either on the shelf
or by order. You may also obtain a copy through CBD, or other book
distributers such as amazon.

> These are they who killed God's
> prophets and his Son.

Yes, they did. Would we non-Jews have done any differently though,
... under similar circumstances? So, as I look for historical examples of
how the early church planted congregations, developed polity, and conducted
their meetings, should I likewise ignore the gentiles? Since they were
culpable for the crucifixion as well. That then leaves me ... no one-- in
the Bible, out of the Bible-- to whom I may look to pattern my church
planting/conducting practice on. Which is an unscriptural position (1 Cor.
4:16; Phi. 3:17; 2 The. 3:9; 1 Tim. 4:12; Heb. 13:7). And one which I

For me, I recognise that ultimately it "pleased *the LORD* to bruise
[His Son]" and "put Him to grief" so that "his soul [became] an offering for
[my ... and your] sins" (Isa. 53:10). Without trying to let anybody off the
hook, I'm just a little glad that the Jews, ... and the Romans, ... and God
... did kill (i.e. sacrifice) Jesus. Aren't you?

> The synagogue was from and for
> unconverted Jews.

I'm not sure that Jesus was "unconverted" (although he didn't convert
at all), but he would likely take exception to your above statement. As
would all the Apostles. And all the early church. Etc.

> You would be hard pressed to find a
> reputable commentary to confirm the
> synagogue which James mentioned to
> mean "building" rather than the
> assembly, itself.

My claim isn't that "SUNAGOGE" in Jam. 2:2 *means* "building".
Throughout the entire NT it really means ... "synagogue". However, the word
"synagogue" developed a secondary meaning of the *building* which housed the
"synagogue". And this secondary usage is likewise attested in the NT, most
explicitly in Luk. 7:5:

"... for he ... has built us a synagogue."

However, with the accounts throughout the gospels of Jesus and disciples
"entering" and "exiting" synagogues, plus Paul and company doing the same
throughout the diaspora, then "a man with gold rings [along with] a poor man
in filthy rags" "*com[ing] into* [Jame's readerships'] assembly [SUNAGOGE]
(Jam. 2:2)," it seems most natural to interpret the verbs as referring to
entering and exiting *places* ... buildings even-- although I recognise that
there is a less natural way to conceive of people entering synagogue
assemblies without specific buildings. I won't quibble about it. It simply
becomes a matter of the natural usage of a language which can get involved
and admittedly nebulous.

No "reputable commentary" I know of would call SUNAGOGE a building per
se, but an increasing number of commentaries are recognising that James had
in mind an actual Christian synagogue service ... which opens wide the
possibility that a building was in the backdrop, ... since most diaspora
synagogues met in buildings or rooms modified expressly for worship.


~ ~ ~ ntcp info page: http://world-missions/planting ~ ~ ~
Date: Tue, 15 Oct 2002 13:23:21 +0200
From: "Deborah" <deborah.millier * juccampus>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] synagogue

Jay F. wrote:

> If I have seemed a little short,
> it's only because this is feeling
> like dejavu all over again.

What can I say? If the same well-worn errors keep getting repeated,
then I feel the need to keep offering an alternative which more closely
aligns with the "evidence"-- I know, a bad word among some in the house church crowd.

Dick W. wrote:

> Does it allow for the free moving of
> the Spirit in His people?

I dunno, ... but if it's not sin, can it "grieve" or "quench" God's
Spirit at all? He seems quite capable of making His presence known when He
wants to (1 Sam. 19:19-24)!!!

> Buildings, rightly or wrongly, are one
> of the symbols of the IC, and evoke a
> negative response in many who are
> seeking to distance themselves from
> their IC roots.

The primary issue must NOT be knee-jerk reactions, but whether it is
right or wrong according to Scripture. Once it is established from the
Bible that constructing a special building is not wrong, the discussion
should then explore the issue of appropriate-ness, in this context or that.
I think some folks have gotten confused over the differences between wrong
and appropriate. And that's where I object.

> Still, there is a point where a building
> unavoidably becomes an issue (size,
> opulence, focus?).

Just as there may develop a "counter greed, an over-reaction to
material wealth " by "have-nots" in the face of opulence, so I am witnessing
a "counter fixation" on buildings by many in the house church movement. Also in
reaction. Buildings have become THE issue with many of these misguided
saints. Better, imo, to fix our eyes upon Jesus, no? And upon expanding
his kingdom. That way those for whom it would be inappropriate to build can
refrain from building (and hopefully from pontificating about it!) and those
who feel the freedom to build special buildings (there is, after all, no
biblical commandment pro or con), can get on with the work of the Lord.
Without this vitriolic censure.


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

Date: Tue, 15 Oct 2002 12:28:30 -0400
From: David Anderson <david * housechurch>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] synagogue

> Care to elaborate, please? I've personally gone through each
>reference in the NT. 56 of them. I don't see any substantive differences
>there in the usage of the term ... unless you want to hold out for the
>single exception in Jam. 2:2. Generic "congregation" vs. "synagogue".
>Could theological bias be coming into play with that common
>(mis-)translation? I ask that as a trained Bible translator. Again, the
>burden of proof is on you (or anybody) to make the case for an exception in
>Jam. 2:2.

Hi all, hi MICHAEL,

What were we auguring about? Oh yea, how we could get college credit by
reading the posts of a real Bible translator. Seriously, I do appreciate
your love for the details, brother. :)

Well, the quote from the Binder site was only to demonstrate that the
experts have little consensus of opinion. Surely, these are familiar with
the Gentile builder mentioned by Luke. They were referring to
archeological evidence or rather lack of it - not the Scriptural

Binder's thesis that synagogues were "little temples" sounds credible.
Many of them look certainly templesque. Personally, I have no doubt that
synagogue buildings dotted the region. They were built and controlled by
the Jews. Those who believed in Jesus would not have been welcome for
long by the unconverted Jews who did not believe in the Son of God. These
two groups do not mix today - neither did they in the Apostolic times,
for very long.

I checked with several sources that confirm the dual meaning of
synagogue. Lindsay, in Church and Ministry. Also, the Dictionary of the
Apostolic Church, T.T. Clark edition, v2. Phillip Shaff, in his Church
History, v1 believes that the word meant congregation "first" then

The synagogue was/is a creation of/for the Jews. The word does NOT apply
to the routine Christian fellowship meetings - not even in the
"celebrated" James 2 passage, MICHAEL. You apparently haven't considered
it yet in it's natural and immediate JUDICIAL context. Do notice the
unmistakable LEGAL language of vs. 4 and 6, as well. Christians today are
as eager as anyone else to go to civil court and ignore the NT commands
to resolve their own disputes - but not the Jews. Their meeting houses
also served as COURT HOUSES. This is readily observable from the Gospels
as well as Acts, even in some of the passages you mentioned, also out of

From Thomas Manton's Commentary on James: Ver. 2-4. For if there come
into your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there
come in also a poor man in vile raiment; and you have respect to him that
weareth the gay clothing, and say to him, Sit thou here in a good place;
and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit under my footstool; are ye
not then partial in yourselves, and become judges in your thoughts?

I have put all these verses together, because they make but one entire
sentence. The apostle proveth how guilty they were of this evil from
whence he dissuadeth them, by a usual practice of theirs in their
ecclesiastical conventions.

- -If there come into your assembly- The word in the original is, * 'into
your synagogue', by which some understand their Christian assembly for
worship: but that is not so probable, because the Christian assembly is
nowhere, that I can remember, expressed by synagogue, but by eklesia or

And in the church meeting, there may be, without sin, several seats and
places appointed for men of several ranks and dignities in the world; and
it is a mistake to apply the censure of the apostle to such a practice.
Others apply it to any common convention and meeting for the deciding of
controversies, establishing of public order, and disposing of the offices
of the church; and by synagogue they understand the court where they
judged all causes belonging to themselves.

Austin seemeth to incline to this sense for one part of it, namely, for a
meeting to dispose of all offices that belonged to the church, which were
not to be entrusted to men according to their quality, but inward
accomplishments; there being the same abuse in fashion in the primitive
times which, to our grief, hath been found among us, that men were chosen
and called to office out of a respect to their lustre rather then their
spiritual endowments, and the gold ring was preferred before the rich
faith, a practice wholly inconsonant with himself having immediately
called fishermen, and persons otherwise despicable, certainly of little
note and remark in the world, to the highest offices and employments in
the church.

If we take the words in this restrained sense, for a court or meeting to
dispose of ecclesiastical offices and functions, the context may be
accommodated with a very proper sense, for, according to there offices,
so had they places in all church-meetings; and therefore the apostle Paul
useth that phrase, 'He that occupieth the room of the unlearned,' I Cor.
xiv. 16; or as it is in the original, *, the place of the private person.

The elders sat by themselves, then others that were more learned, than
the ignorant; the church herein following the custom of the synagogue,
which (as the author of the Comment upon the Epistles, that goeth under
the name of Ambrose, observeth) was wont to place the elders in chairs,
the next in rank on benches, the novices at their feet on mats; and
thence came the phrase of 'sitting at the feet' of any one for a
disciple, as it is said Paul was 'brought up at the feet of Gamaliel.'
And for the women, Grotius telleth us, that the first place was given to
the widows of one man, then to the virgins, then to the matrons. Now,
because they assigned these places preposterously, out of regard of
wealth rather than grace, and said to the rich, 'Sit thou here, *,
honourably,' and to the poor, however qualified, 'Stand thou here, or sit
at my feet,' the place of learners and idiots, the apostle doth with such
severity tax the abuse, to wit, their carnal partiality in distributing
the honours of the church. Thus the context will go on smoothly. But I
must not limit the text to this one use of the court or synagogue; and
therefore, if we take in the uses of deciding all causes and differences
between the members of the Church, &c., every passage in the context will
have its full light and explication; for the apostle speaketh of judging,
and of such respect of persons as is condemned by the law, judging, and
of such respect of persons as is condemned by the law, ver. 9, which is
an accepting of persons in judgment, Lev. xix. 5.

And therefore I understand this synagogue of an assembly met to do
justice. In which thought I am confirmed by the judgment and reasons of a
late learned writer (+), who proveth that it was the fashion of the Jews
to keep court in their synagogues; and therefore do we so often read
those phrases, Mat. x. 17, "They shall scourge you in their synagogues;"
Acts xxii. 19, "Beaten in every synagogue;" Acts xxvi.11, "I punished
them in every synagogue," because, as he saith, where sentence was given,
there justice was executed; and it is probable that, being converted to
Christianity, they still held the same course. And it is very notable,
which he quoteth out of Maimonides: Sanhedrin, cap 21, "

That it is expressly provided by the Jews' constitutions, that when a
poor man and a rich plead together, the rich shall not be bidden to sit
down, and the poor stand, or sit in a worse place, but both sit, or both
stand:" which is a circumstance that hath a clear respect to the phrases
used by the apostle here; and the rather to be noted, because our apostle
writeth to "the twelve tribes," Hebrews by nation, with whom these
customs were familiar and of known use. So that out of all we may collect
that the synagogue here spoken of is not the church assembly, but the
ecclesiastical court or convention for the decision of strifes, wherein
they were not to favour the cause of the rich against the poor; which is
an explication that cleareth the whole context, and preventeth tie
inconveniences of the received exposition, which so far cleareth the
cause of the poor as to deny civility and due respect to the rich and
honourable in Christian assemblies.

End of quote. (+) The title and author of this book are in the footnote.
Manton's works fill 24 large volumes, btw. He taught at either Cambridge
or Oxford. I'm on the road, now, and can't check. He served in the
Westminster Assembly. Manton's smooth interpretation is not a private
opinion, either.

Anyway, your attempt to link James 2:2 to all the regular Christian
fellowship meetings - and this under the heading of a synagogue
(building) - is an enormous stretch, indeed. But I'd say the "burden of
proof" is upon you since you are appealing to what you admit is "an

Again, the Apostles returning to the synagogue and temple was in
fulfillment of their commission to the Jew first, then to the Gentile.
Look at the consistent content of their EVANGELISTIC messages. And if
they had the desire, as they did, to put themselves "under the law" and
head back to the synagogues and temple on sabbaths, holidays, and prayer
times in order to win those that were "under the law," that is certainly
not a binding precedent upon anyone else. They were simply going where
the people were in order to fulfil their mission.

Here's the deal, everyone: It is a widely-held view that there are now
more inhabitants on the Earth than in all previous ages combined. So,
either hell is going to be filling fast or the Gospel is going to spread
as never before. What it means is that we must be removing obstacles
rather than squeezing, straining, and stretching the narrative in order
to justify the also widely-held view that more religious structures are
needful or desirable. They are neither because they are relics of an
outdated arrangment - an arrangement that God never prescribed to begin


David Anderson

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

Date: Tue, 15 Oct 2002 12:31:03 -0400
From: "Link Hudson" <Linkh *>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] synagogue


One possible interpretation of James 2:2 is that James may ahve had in mind
Christian Jews--Nazarenes-- that continued to meet in Jewish synagogues with

As you quoted previously:

>>"So I [Paul] said, 'Lord, they know that in *every synagogue* I imprisoned
and beat those who believe on You' " (Act. 22:19-- [Paul was arresting and
punishing Judean Christians ... and he was finding them in the *local
synagogues* some 3-5 years after Jesus' ascension]).<<
I haven't found any scriptural evidence of a Christian synagogue per se.
There are examples of believing Jews going to synagogues, intermixed with
other Jews who don't believe.

It is conceivable that entire synagogues accepted the Gospel, and that some
of the people James addressed may have been in such synagogues, but I know
of no evidence of an entire synagogue converting.

A synagogue could be started ny ten men, and it is posible that a group of
Christian Jews started a Messianic synagogue.

The bits of archeological evidence you have presented are the only ones I
have seen for a Christian synagogue. I seem to recall your saying the
synagogue there was constructed of the same type of rock as the wailing
wall. If the rock in the Upper Room site synagogue were actually taken from
the rubble of the temple wall that would date it later than the destruction
of the temple-- after 70 AD, and after most New Testament epistles were
written. The temple was still around when Acts was written.
I think the 'ediface complex' and the reactionary anti-ediface complex some
people have can be issues of weak conscience.

John Wesley was ostracized for preaching outdoors. It was considered
unfitting to preach except in a church building. This, of course, was a
bizaar and unscriptural prejudice against Wesley's ministry, considering how
Christ and the apostles ministered. I've heard many preachers speak of 'the
house of God' as if the church building were the house of God.

I encountered one brother on an house church mailing list years back that was
considering whether to attend a wedding in a church building. He felt if he
went in, it would be like going into a pagan temple and compromising with

I can understand having a negative reaction to the teaching that a church
building is 'the house of God.' If one is treating a church building like a
new Jerusalem temple, is that the same thing as having a high place?

The brother who didn't want to go into a special-purpose Christian building
had a weak conscience. As you ahve pointed out, Jesus and the apostles went
into synagogues. If buildings used for religious purposes were evil, why
would Christ have graced synagogues with His presence and His teaching?

The references to synagogues in the gospels and the book of Acts seem to
indicate that 'synagogue' is used at times to refer to the buildings and not
only the congregations. 'Church' on the other hand, seems to always refer
to a congregation/assembly, the people that meet in such assemblies, or the
'heavenly assembly' of all saints.

Personally, I don't like the idea of meeting church buildings. The typical
modified Roman Catholic set-up of pews facing the front make having church
meetings according to the instructions in I Corinthians 14 difficult.
Either you end up with a sore neck from looking back, or people waste time
walking up to the front to speak behind the pulpit.

There is also the stewardship issue. We don't see the apostles spending
money on church buildings, and the New Testament teaches us to follow
apostolic examle and teaching. The early church gave money to widows, the
poor and to support those who preached the Gospel. Why do so many churches
spend money paying back interest on loans for expensive building programs,
and ignore the widows and others in need in their midsts?

These are some of my main concerns about church buildings. There is also
the fact that we do have New Testament examples of believers meeting in
homes, and breaking bread from house to house.

It is possible to eat a meal in a conventional church building, if you don't
mind crumbs and stains on the carpet. It is possible to have meetings where
the saints are free to minister to one another in church buildings. There
are also situations where a congregation can use a building without having
to pay anything (e.g. an old existing structure, a traditional Mennonite
community situation in which supplies are donated and the men build the
building themselves.)

Generally, the example of the early church is meeting in homes. On the
other hand, the earliest saints also met in the temple (a pre-existing
structure, not one they built.) Paul taught and evangelized in synagogues.
Other saints felt free to meet with believing and unbelieving Jews in
synagogues. Paul even taught in a lecture hall in one city.

I believe this is an issue where we need to observe the instructions in
Romans 14:

1 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful
2 For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak,
eateth herbs.
3 Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him
which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.
4 Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he
standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him
5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day
alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that
regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth,
eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the
Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.

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

Date: Tue, 15 Oct 2002 18:05:10 EDT
From: JAMESRUTZ * cs
Subject: Re: [NTCP] synagogue
In a message dated 10/15/2002 10:31:16 AM Mountain Standard Time,
david * housechurch writes:
> Here's the deal, everyone: It is a widely-held view that there are now
> more inhabitants on the Earth than in all previous ages combined. So,
> either hell is going to be filling fast or the Gospel is going to spread
> as never before. What it means is that we must be removing obstacles
> rather than squeezing, straining, and stretching the narrative in order
> to justify the also widely-held view that more religious structures are
> needful or desirable. They are neither because they are relics of an
> outdated arrangment - an arrangement that God never prescribed to begin
> with.

--David Anderson

Hi gang,

Just as a practical aside to the above: I'm planning to go to India
for the months of January and February to teach church planters about the HC
(more specifically, the open church). One of the groups I'll serve
(Operation Agape, in Uttar Pradesh) took a survey at the end of January to
see how many HCs they had in their network. It was 750. Four months later,
they repeated the survey. It was 3270. And now over 5000. A question to
ponder: How on earth could they have done this if they had allowed their
church planters to stop and build buildings ... or hire M.Div's. to staff
their congregations? Like pork, these things are allowable, but so what? (I
speak as one who has a few trichinosis bacteria running around in my

An aside: The people alive today are not a majority of those who have
ever lived. That's an urban myth. About makes a comment that echoes the
Population Reference Bureau and other scholars: "At some point over the last
few decades, someone started a notion to alarm people that population growth
was out of control. Whoever it was said that a majority of the humans who
have ever lived were alive today. Well, that's a gross overestimate. Most
studies place the total number of human beings to have ever lived at 60
billion to 120 billion and since the world population right now is a mere 6
billion, the percent of humans who have ever lived and are alive today is
anywhere from a mere 5 to 10 percent."

All my best,

Jim Rutz
Colorado Springs

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

Date: Tue, 15 Oct 2002 19:50:24 -0400
From: "Richard Wright" <wright47 * sc.rr>
Subject: RE: [NTCP] synagogue


As I mentioned in my first reply, I agree with you (mostly) that to
build a structure that serves as a meeting place for worship and
fellowship is not 'anti scripture', and in many circumstances serves a
valid purpose.

When I said that buildings can evoke a negative response from some
brethren, it was not to disparage buildings as a whole, but to point out
what you elaborated on; the knee jerk reaction to write off anyone who
would do such a thing.

The main problem is what happens (or does not happen) inside these
buildings. Of course the same applies to HC's.



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

Date: Wed, 16 Oct 2002 07:53:50 EDT
From: Steffasong * aol
Subject: Re: [NTCP] In defense of liberty
> > think I remember reading something about God loving us all ... the whole
> >
> > world. Wouldn't that include all people, in all churches?
> >
> > Joel
> >

Yes Joel, it would.
I remember something as well about there being but One Lord and One Judge of
us all, that would be God.
He tries human hearts, something we cannot possibly do. Though we like to
try, judging the human heart is not our business. It's His.
We go and walk in the places He calls us, not to please men, but to please
Him alone. We have the freedom to do this, and so does everyone else.
There's a lot of garbage out there passing for the church, and it should send
us to our knees. I pray our hearts break as we weep with God over the
apostasy that is apparant throughout the world. If we do there is not much
room or time left to be angry about it.

Stephanie Bennett
Creative Services & Consulting

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he
hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however
measured or far away.

Henry David Thoreau, Walden, Conclusion, 1854

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