New Testament Church Proliferation Digest


Spreading the Gospel via House Churches



NT Church Proliferation Digest Friday, November 1 2002 Volume 02 : Number 195
Re: [NTCP] His walk, our walk
RE: [NTCP] His walk, our walk
Re: [NTCP] His walk, our walk
Re: [NTCP] His walk, our walk
Re: [NTCP] His walk, our walk
Re: [NTCP] The synagogue, it's judicial nature according to the Scripture
RE: [NTCP] What exactly is baptism?
RE: [NTCP] What exactly is baptism?
[NTCP] Bye to Vanessa
Re: [NTCP] His walk, our walk
Re: [NTCP] His walk, our walk

Date: Fri, 01 Nov 2002 09:55:18 +0000
From: "Bruce Woodford" <bwood4d * hotmail>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] His walk, our walk

Dear John,
My apologies!! The scriptural examples that I thought I had given you were
actually presented on another thread! (the one regarding synagogues.)

Here are the examples that I'd posted there yesterday:

"I don't get the impression that anyone has ever maintained in this
discussion that Jews or Jewish believers in the first or second century did
not gather in special buildings (synagogues) as Jews, to fulfill certain
Jewish functions. Rather, it is my impression that some are maintaining (as
I myself do) that (except for gatherings of the whole church in a particular
city i.e. Acts 2:46a; 6:2; 15:22,25 and I Cor.14:23) Christians (Jews and
Gentiles) had no "special"
buildings/temples/synagogues in which they met together for teaching,
fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers.

Rather, they simply met for these purposes in their own houses, or lodging
places. See Acts 2:46; 12:12; 16:15,34,40; 18:17; 20:7,8,20; 21:8; 27:35;
28:30; Romans 16:5; I Corinthians 16:19; Colossians 4:15; and Philemon 1:2.

When ever anyone desired to arrest large numbers of Christians, they did NOT
go to temples/sanctuaries/synagogues or religious buildings of any kind.
They went to houses of Christians because they knew that was where
Christians assembled! See Acts 8:3 and 17:15.

When the apostle John gave instructions on how to deal with a false teacher,
he did not tell the saints "receive him not into your
temple/sanctuary/synagogue", but rather commanded, "receive him not into
your house."

Your brother in Christ,
Bruce


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info page: http://world-missions.org/planting <><><>


Date: Fri, 1 Nov 2002 06:06:21 -0500
From: "Richard Wright" <wright47 * sc.rr>
Subject: RE: [NTCP] His walk, our walk

Bruce,

Good points. If I understand you correctly, it is not an either/or
directive; we are just admonished to assemble together. The where, and to
some extent the how, is somewhat flexible. I do not see Jesus having been
involved in building programs, and while He went to the temple, the bulk of
His ministry was out with the people; in boats, on hillsides, etc.

Dick Wright
wright47 * sc.rr

- -----Original Message-----
From: owner-ntcp * homechurch [mailto:owner-ntcp * homechurch]On Behalf
Of Bruce Woodford
Sent: Friday, November 01, 2002 4:55 AM
To: ntcp * homechurch
Subject: Re: [NTCP] His walk, our walk
"I don't get the impression that anyone has ever maintained in this
discussion that Jews or Jewish believers in the first or second century did
not gather in special buildings (synagogues) as Jews, to fulfill certain
Jewish functions. Rather, it is my impression that some are maintaining (as
I myself do) that (except for gatherings of the whole church in a particular
city i.e. Acts 2:46a; 6:2; 15:22,25 and I Cor.14:23) Christians (Jews and
Gentiles) had no "special"
buildings/temples/synagogues in which they met together for teaching,
fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers.

Rather, they simply met for these purposes in their own houses, or lodging
places. See Acts 2:46; 12:12; 16:15,34,40; 18:17; 20:7,8,20; 21:8; 27:35;
28:30; Romans 16:5; I Corinthians 16:19; Colossians 4:15; and Philemon 1:2.

When ever anyone desired to arrest large numbers of Christians, they did NOT
go to temples/sanctuaries/synagogues or religious buildings of any kind.
They went to houses of Christians because they knew that was where
Christians assembled! See Acts 8:3 and 17:15.

When the apostle John gave instructions on how to deal with a false teacher,
he did not tell the saints "receive him not into your
temple/sanctuary/synagogue", but rather commanded, "receive him not into
your house."


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Date: Fri, 1 Nov 2002 07:45:33 EST
From: Steffasong * aol
Subject: Re: [NTCP] His walk, our walk

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In a message dated 10/31/2002 8:05:17 AM Eastern Standard Time,
jferris154 * mac writes:
>
> >Seems to me that an anti-building mentality is no
> >better than a mentality that states that church can
> >ONLY be held in a "special building".
> >

Stephanie here, weighing in on the building mentality.

Do participants here really think that an anti-building mentality is being
exhibited? I'm not picking that up.

Buildings are great places to meet in once in a while, but since the church
cannot be contained in a building, but is GOD'S building, much confusion has
arisen over the years regarding buildings.

The western m.o. in the church is that success equals a building. That may
never be verbalized (though it sometimes is), but is often the case when the
idea of building is approached.

If we collectively would go back to thinking of the church as Christ's body
and the success of it being the healthy functioning of each of the Body's
members, buildings would become moot.

What IS the purpose of a building if success is seen in the edification of
the Body instead of a being found in the erecting of a structure where the
church meets?

Here's a quote from Deitrich Bonhoeffer that I've been using as my new
signature file. I think it says it all:

"The Church is the real presence of Christ. Once we have realized this truth
we are well on the way to recovering an aspect of the Church's being which
has been sadly neglected in the past. We should think of the Church not as an
institution, but as a person." Dietrich Bonhoeffer

We, the church live out HIS life together. When we spend our time planning,
raising funds, building and maintaining a structure in which to house HIS
life, we do not have our priorities straight, wouldn't you say? I won't call
it sin, or evil, but ... skewed priorities. It reminds me of the scripture
that talks about giving a bit of attention to bodily exercise, but not to
focus on it.

When we focus on the outward, or the structure of the church, the inward gets
lost in the sea of worldly concerns. The people of God become superfluous.

Two cents, --- maybe three.
:-)
Blessings in the Lamb,
Steph


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Date: Fri, 01 Nov 2002 08:16:23 -0500
From: jferris <jferris154 * mac>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] His walk, our walk

Richard Wright wrote:

>I do not see Jesus having been involved in building programs, and while He went to the temple, the bulk of His ministry was out with the people; in boats, on hillsides, etc.
>
Dear Dick,

Just a note of encouragement: Actually Jesus went to great lengths to
demonstrate that that kind of "temple" was out of business. It would no
longer be a question of physical place, but, in Truth, a matter of
Spiritual place.

Yours in Christ,

Jay


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


Date: Fri, 01 Nov 2002 08:40:51 -0500
From: jferris <jferris154 * mac>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] His walk, our walk

Steffasong * aol wrote:

> In a message dated 10/31/2002 8:05:17 AM Eastern Standard Time,
> jferris154 * mac writes:
>
>
>>
>> >Seems to me that an anti-building mentality is no
>> >better than a mentality that states that church can
>> >ONLY be held in a "special building".
>
Dear Stephanie,

The above may have been quoted in my email, but I did not think or write
it, I was responding to its writer.

> Do participants here really think that an anti-building mentality is
> being exhibited? I'm not picking that up.

In fairness to the perceptions of the participants, I pead guilty to an
anti-special building mentality. I believe that their cost has been
prohibitive, because we have invested ourselves in building lifeless
stones in preference to living ones, the cost, and the loss has been,
and continues to be incalculable. The net effect of our buildings has
and remains a fraud against the unsaved community that, with our help,
is convinced that they know what a church is, and want no part of it. In
fact, it is becoming clear the the general public is neutral to
increasingly hostile to what we are calling "chuirch", Mohammed and his
followers being one good example.

At root, the question remains, "What do we need to represent to the
world that we are, in order to get the building permits?", and does that
require "friendship with the world".

The world has an expression: "Get a life!" It has its spiritual
application. After all, that's what Jesus came to bring us. The pattern
hasn't changed just because we have gone from being an old creation to a
new one. The difference is that the new one is based on better promises,
better blood, and is never going to pass away. We already have houses
enough for the living of a new life. Building special places for the
expression of our new life is not only bad stewardship, it is evidence
of a gross misunderstanding of the transaction of the cross.

But Stephanie, I think you already know that.

Yours in Christ,

Jay

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


Date: Fri, 1 Nov 2002 16:23:25 +0200
From: "Deborah" <deborah.millier * juccampus>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] The synagogue, it's judicial nature according to the Scripture

Mike S. wrote:

> The fact, however, (see Kittel and Colin Brown)
> is that "synagoge" was used for both the Jewish
> meeting (and building) as well as for NON-Jewish
> religious meetings.

True enough, bro. But methodologically, don't you think it is better
to stay *within* the canon of Scripture when "fishing" for word usage and
meaning UNLESS you come upon a scriptural usage of a word that does not make
sense in context with the meanings already derived from the Bible? In other
words, you are right that SUNAGOGE means NON-Jewish meeting in some extant
Greek literature, but is there any reason for us to read that meaning into
Jam. 2:2, with the other 55 NT occurences of SUNAGOGE referring
unequivocally to Jewish meetings (most of the times with buildings) and the
recipient context of James established early on (1:1) that he was writing to
*Jewish* followers of Jesus in the Diaspora?

> One of the things this understanding of synagogue
> brings us to (and I'm not the only one to say this) is
> the surprise that the NT authors did NOT just simply
> adopt the term synagogue. Why on earth did they
> use ekklesia? THAT!!! was the secular term for crying
> out loud.

I don't want to be the guy in class who always raises his hand to
answer the teacher's question, but do you perhaps think it had something to
do with the fact that EKKLESIA in various declensions occurs in the LXX
(ancient Greek translation of the OT that was used most often by the NT
writers) some 74 times in relation to Israel. Maybe that's why, think?
Again, it is not good methodology to shop around for word usages
outside the canon unless there is a compelling reason to do so. SUNAGOGE
(as is) is used 48 times in the LXX with all but 10 referring to Israel as a
congregation gathered for some purpose. The next stage of the biblical
revelation (NT) just seems to be building on this and the use of EKKLESIA in
the earlier writings (OT)-- with allowance made for the words to be refined
according to then-current usage.

> And therein, IMO, lies the key to why the NT
> authors used the term ekklesia. It was fundamentally
> radical.

It was radical alright ... in that the most popular Greek Bible of the
time, translated some 200 years before Christ, had already infused two
secular terms (SUNAGOGE was earlier used for things as mundane as
"*gathered-together* water" [Gen. 1:9; Isa. Isa. 37:25] or a "cluster of
stones" [Job 8:17]; EKKLESIA you've read about) with revelational meaning
related to the chosen people of God. The Jews. Then Paul got *real
radical* by applying EKKLESIA to the the chosen people of God. With the
addition of uncircumcised gentiles ... included as first-class citizens.
Now that's what I call radical! Praise God!!!

Michael
Jerusalem


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Date: Fri, 1 Nov 2002 16:24:06 +0200
From: "Deborah" <deborah.millier * juccampus>
Subject: RE: [NTCP] What exactly is baptism?

Scott D. wrote:

> The question was about baptism, so
> I hope my answer counts, too.

Does it count? ... does your answer count?!?! Man, you've brought up
so many important issues I don't know where to begin putting in my
two-cents-worth! Perhaps I'll just start from the end of your post and work
backwards. I'll only try 'n tackle one item for today though. So much to
do!
You had written:

> A side note on the possibility of
> salvation without water baptism -
> there is the example of the thief
> on the cross. I'd say that doesn't
> open the door to anyone who refuses
> baptism, but does allow God to save
> those who have no opportunity for
> water baptism (i.e. believe the
> saving message in a disaster or in
> prison etc where circumstances -
> rather than stubborn will - prevent
> immersion)

I was actually hoping somebody would bring up our (other) crucified
brother ... whom we will meet one day in God's kingdom. Although he was
NEVER baptised! In fact, when I challenged our sister Stephanie the other
day (Oct. 30, same thread), I thought this would be one area of retort
available to her. And it still is.

Our unbaptised crucified brother's circumstances give us the
opportunity to "think Jewish" once more. In Israel's ancient faith (of
which, by the way, we have become part) there were laws (i.e. commandments,
statutes, ordinances, etc.) and then there was what later became termed
HALAKHA-- i.e. the practical application of those laws. Today they might
call this "jurisprudence," or something like that. What need HALAKHA met
(meets!) is that periodically-- from Moses' time onward-- two or more
commandments would collide in the rubber-meets-the-road world creating a
dilemma as to *how* to obey them each, righteously.

What to do? ... what to do?
We see an example of this in Numbers 26:53-65 wherein the LORD Himself
gives to Moses the laws for all the twelve tribes' inheritance in the land
of Canaan. Again, they were from the mouth of YHWH (26:53). Furthermore,
they were spoken unconditionally, in absolute terms. The Torah states that
the inheritance was to be allotted through the male heirs in the family.
Okay, next chapter (27), an exception to the rule came up; an
extenuating circumstance. Here we have this family which has no male heir
and therefore runs the risk of legal extinction should they fail to inherit
as full-fledged members of their tribe. What to do? ... what to do?
The gutsy daughters of Zelophehad filed an appeal to Moses, the
priests, and the elders. Moses considered it worthy of consideration and
therefore brought their appeal before "the Judge of all the earth". And "lo
and behold," the LORD made a ruling on their behalf. Which then became part
of the Torah.

The Zelophehad girls had met all the legal criteria for inheritance,
... save one. True enough, they had their pedigrees handy (27:1), they were
not descendents of wicked Korah and his crew, and their father had died in
the wilderness "for his own sin" only (27:3). But ... they were women, not
men. And putting this in context, that little detail was (is!) a big deal
in Middle Eastern culture.

Nevertheless, a legal pronouncement was made by YHWH Himself (without
throwing out the whole Law, mind you) and the daughters of Zelophehad
inherited a man's share in a "man's world". Proving once more that God is
not a chauvinist.

Apart from the implications this discourse has on the geneaology of
Christ (a legal inheritence through Mary's line since Joseph's line came
through cursed Jeconiah-- Jer. 22:24-30, cp Matt. 1:11, 12), there is here
another lesson to learn: God almost always uses absolute language in his
declarations, but when *mitigating circumstances* arise, He does on occasion
make *legal exceptions*. Though not exemptions.
Such an allowance for this type thing (HALAKHA) was later built right
into the Torah itself for human judges to practice:

"If a matter arises which is too hard for you to judge, between degrees of
guilt for bloodshed, BETWEEN ONE JUDGMENT OR ANOTHER, or between one
punishment or another, matters of controversy within your gates, then you
shall arise and go up to the place which the LORD your God chooses. And you
shall come to the priests, the Levites, and to the judge there in those
days, and inquire of them; they shall pronounce upon you the sentence of
judgment" (Deut. 17:8-13, emphasis mine).

As a side note: this same principle is seen in a different kind of
context-- Jonah's prophecy to Nineveh: "Yet forty days and Nineveh will be
destroyed" (Jon. 3:4-- absolute statement). Legal judgment was pronounced,
right? However (mitigating circumstance), the Ninevites repented enmass,
and God's righteous judgment was abated (Jon. 3:5-10)-- although no
provision for forgiveness had been made in the official prophetic
pronouncement they had heard.

As Supreme Judge, God is righteous in making these kinds of exceptions
to statements He has otherwise intended to be interpreted literally. And
also, as we have have learned, His faithful representatives can likewise be
righteous in so doing (see again, Deut. 17:8-13). The LORD is, after all, a
Person dealing with persons. Not a machine. And this is in accord with a
prudent and humane application (i.e. HALAKHA) of His own Law (Torah) to the
varied affairs of humanity. Not however to it's abrogation.
Likewise we see another example of commandments colliding and
resulting HALAKHA during Jesus' defense against some Pharisaic claims that
the Lord's disciples were violating the Sabbath by plucking and rubbing
grain on the commanded day of rest.

What to do? ... what to do?
Jesus fronts scriptural examples of "weightier and lighter
commandments" (e.g. Mat. 23:23, rabbinic terminology)-- i.e. controlling
principles for when two or more commandments collide. All within the
framework of Jewish legal practices of the day. Let's analyze together Mat.
12:3-8:

"But He [Jesus] said to them [the objecting Pharisees], 'Have you not read
what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he
entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him
to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests?"

(HALAKHA: The weightier law of sustaining righteous human life overrides--
but does not negate!-- the lighter laws regarding food items dedicated to
the ministry of the tabernacle-temple.)

"Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the
temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless?"

(HALAKHA: The weightier laws concerning the ongoing work within the
tabernacle-temple complex overrides-- but does not negate!!-- the lighter
law to cease from labor on the Sabbath.)

"Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple."

(HALAKHA: The weightier authority of God's annointed deliverer overrides--
but does not negate!!!-- the lighter authority of whole temple system.)

"But if you had known what this means, 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice,'
you would not have condemned the guiltless."

(HALAKHA: The weightier laws about showing true mercy [i.e. covenant
faithfulness] override-- but do NOT negate!!!-- the lighter laws regarding
enforcement of community self-deprivation in God's name [what "sacrifice"
means in this context, i.e to refrain from plucking and rubbing available
grain when faced with honest need].)

"For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath."

(HALAKHA: The man come down from Heaven [Dan. 7:9-14; Joh. 3:13] has
God-given authority to decide these legal matters with unquestioned
finality-- without ABROGATING the laws of the SABBATH, cp. Mat. 5:17-19.)

We know that our salvation-transaction is not "mechanical," but
personal. God saves people because He LOVES people-- not because you drop
in a "baptism" and pull out a "salvation". Period.
The "unbaptised thief" seems problematic for the ancient
interpretation about the necessity of water baptism, especially since Jesus'
absolute statement about "water and Spirit" (Joh. 3:5) was spoken at least
one year *earlier* than his and the thief's crucufixions. Perhaps even
before. Yet here we have a dying man, no chance of immersion, and in
response to his faith, he is given an unequivocal pardon by the Lord.
What to do? ... what to do?

The Ante-Nicene leaders tried to account for such exceptions too.
Remember, they were formulating their/our doctrines amid the most widespread
and intense persecution of the ancient Church, and *many* believers of this
period were being slaughtered. Some in their ranks who had just recently
professed faith in Christ were being drug off straightway to the Circus
Maximus, or other arenas, before baptismal water ever touched their bodies.
What to do? ... what to do?
The patristic solution-- held by some, but *not all* of the Church
leaders-- was to allow for something they called a "baptism of blood": i.e.
a person's martyrdom, should he/she be PREVENTED from baptism, could have
efficacy in sealing that person's covenant with God. John Calvin bought
this reasoning too, as evidenced from some of his statements in the
INSTITUTES OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION.

This particular Ante-Nicene solution has got some pluses and minuses.
It certainly tries to stay faithful to the covenantal aspect of our
Christian faith-- something a lot of people who have problems with the
historical view of baptism tend to ignore. It maintains a relatively tight
hold on the Church's previous interpretations of baptism. It strives to
account for what we know from Scripture to be the merciful nature of our God
and His Christ.

Yet despite all this, one is left with the impression that their
explanation is somehow contrived. It rings hollow ... at least for me. And
where do we find anything akin to a "baptism of blood" in Scripture?
I think an understanding of how Jews (including Jesus) dealt with
situations wherein two or more divine commandments collided, or when
extenuating circumstances presented themselves, goes a longer way in
explaining how to apply the principles learned from the story of our
brother, "the thief on the cross," in relation to Jesus' absolute statments
in John 3:5. A seeming collision between a commandment and an extenuating
circumstance. We can also apply these same principles of HALAKHA to our
brothers and sisters who were martyred for their Christian faith before they
could ever be baptised. Likewise, extenuating circumstances.
One more thing-- and this relates to some comments made by brother
David A. about what he thought I was doing when looking for "exceptions" to
norms and patterns in Scripture to prop up my claims about early buildings
and monobishops: it is not usually wise for us to draw principles of life
from the exceptions. I agree. We should rather focus on *meeting* the
requirements of the *absolute statements* (commandments or not) in the Bible
unless prevented by circumstances beyond our control-- such as the the
gender of Zelophehad's daughters, or pressing hunger, or being nailed to a
cross, or being killed for being one of Jesus' followers before you could
draw near to any water.

I can see this principle illustated by the absolutely stated verse: "
... it is appointed unto man once to die ... " (Heb. 9:27). There were (and
are) exceptions to that rule, ... but one would be unwise to begin teaching
a doctrine of a "second chance" based on the exception. In the same way, it
appears to be true about baptism that there were (are) exceptions to the
rule that a person MUST be baptised in water in order to be saved, but I
wouldn't teach someone that without baptism they may get a second chance
into God's kingdom when the preponderance of evidence-- not to mention
direct commandments-- all point to baptism being a major component of being
born again.

Michael
Jerusalem

P.S. I see that you (Scott D.) arrived at the same conclusion without all
the verbage. Sorry for being so wordy, but I just like people to see how I
arrive at conclusions so they can either agree or disagree intelligently.
Also, it should be clear by now that I essentially agree with sister
Stephanie B's bottom line in her Oct. 26 post (same thread), although I was
baiting her to see how she would muster a defense. Hope you still love me,
sister. I do that to people sometimes. :-)

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


Date: Fri, 1 Nov 2002 10:39:19 -0600
From: "Scott Dowlen" <scott * dowlen>
Subject: RE: [NTCP] What exactly is baptism?

> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-ntcp * homechurch [mailto:owner-ntcp * homechurch]On
> Behalf Of Deborah
> Sent: Friday, 01 November, 2002 8:24 AM
> To: ntcp * homechurch
> Subject: RE: [NTCP] What exactly is baptism?
>
>
> Does it count? ... does your answer count?!?! Man,
> you've brought up
> so many important issues I don't know where to begin putting in my
> two-cents-worth!
<<<>>>
> Sorry for being so wordy, but I just like
> people to see how I
> arrive at conclusions so they can either agree or disagree
> intelligently.
Wow, if that post was $0.02 USD worth, we all got a great bargain ;-)

I must say that I really have enjoyed the deep thinking and Jewish
perspective you have presented. Back when I was stuck in the "amillennial /
Kingdom Now / replacement theology" mindset I probably wouldn't have cared.
But I believe that God is a God of continuity. The perspectives and
understandings that were developed by early Jewish thinkers and theologians
has great value to me now. I think that a more 'Jewish' understanding of
God, enlightened by the full revelation of Him as seen in Christ, will be
invaluable to us all as the days of human government draw to a close.

Peace to Jerusalem. May the God of Peace reign in the hearts of all His
people, and may His Christ rule the nations! Amen.

Scott D.


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


Date: Fri, 1 Nov 2002 12:51:16 -0500
From: forwarded <forwarded * homechurch>
Subject: [NTCP] Bye to Vanessa

Vanessa DiDomenico, van3hijos * yahoo, is signing off ntcp today due to
time constraints.

God bless you, sister, as you administer the Lord's kindness to those in
Venezuela.

I wish more women would join the ntcp discussions.

Again, thank you for your contribution, sister. We'll look for you later
on the hc-talk list.


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


Date: Fri, 1 Nov 2002 13:50:28 -0500
From: David Anderson <david * housechurch>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] His walk, our walk

Hi John H, cyber-friend and brother in our Lord Jesus Christ. It's good
to be engaged in conversation with you as I know you desire the Lord's
will. You wrote:

>Ahhh... how well Michael knows me. And for the
>record, I VERY SELDOM take any debate personally. And
>this is the case with you also Dave. I can certainly
>be passionate regarding my views, and have been
>accused at times of being a stickler for details; and
>I think this is probably a trail we all share, right?
>However, for the record David, no offence taken
>whatsoever.

Amen to all that. My own passionate views have been frequently in need of
correction.

As a new-comer, and to all others who are just getting on this
merry-go-round, I must repeat: Buildings, being inanimate objects, are
NOT evil. Nor do I maintain that house churches are the only way.

>With regards to buildings et al, I must agree with
>Michael though; It's very tough for me to buy into the
>adage that "buildings are bad" or even that buildings
>are somehow "less than". And here are my concerns
>regarding the anti-building stance: a) logistics b)
>the lack of specific scriptural mandates on the
>subject.

Buildings are superfluous, imo, and can be a hindrance to real
fellowship, not to mention the fact that they can seriously consume the
resources of the saints. More on the "less than" factor soon.

The Temple has been superseded by the new Temple, the church, just as the
sacrificial system has been superseded by the Lamb of God and the
priesthood of all believers. The Temple was the seat of the sacrificial
activity. Its destruction fitly symbolizes the end of the sacrificial
era. Some, I suppose, would desire to rebuild it one more time on the
grounds that Christians met there at the beginning of the Christian
movement.

Undeniably, the apostolic correspondence contains no warrant for
constructing "church buildings." For converted Jews to have -temporarily
occupied them- is an entirely different thing than -building them- and
making them "scriptural." When the apostles addressed the house churches,
NEVER is there the least indication that he longed to see them construct
buildings for religious purposes as the Jews had done.

The early Christians got their visibility by virtuous acts of mercy and
service. What if the church was seen today as a relief agency as it was
in Acts 6, distributing food each day to the poor? Instead, the world
mostly sees our closed buildings, us as a secret society hiding out in
our mini-ghettos, culturally impotent and culturally irrelevant. Thank
God for the rare exceptions.

>First let's deal with logistics. While some may argue
>an advantage in home churches, it hardly seems
>conducive to large groups. I've had church in my
>house before, and to be honest, it was a bit of a
>pain. People everywhere, dog barking, kids pulling
>the cat's tail...and never enough seats to go around.
>The fact is, a lot of homes just aren't suited to
>church.

So what if it seems hardly conducive to large groups, bro? Whoever
suggested that larger is better? Show me large groups and I'll show you
groups where mutual participation is likely fighting for its survival. I
hope this has not been your experience as it has mine. Of course, "large"
is a relative term and, of course, we desire as many as possible to hear
the Gospel and enjoy one another in the Lord. Again, we don't see the
apostles encouraging all the house churches in an area to have one big
meeting. This is another significant fact.

Are we just trying to herd people together to keep them under control or
are we intentionally creating a setting where the priesthood of all
believers can flourish? The obvious solution is to meet in a larger home
or meet in more than one home. Nothing down and no dollars per month.

I heard of one pastor who made the statement that his church could have
no more than 2 small groups per week as that was all he could attend. How
arrogant.

>Which takes me to my second point; if you observe the
>church in scripture, sometimes you see a crowd
>plodding around with Jesus, or some kind of gathering
>in a amphitheatre to listen to Paul. You had
>preaching in the Temple and preaching in the streets.
>You had preaching in synagogues and preaching from
>boats. And in the modern day? Wet's just say that
>the hillside forum has largely gone out of vogue and
>that amphitheatres have been replaced by movie
>theatres. And synagogues? Well, you can forge that;
>the Jesus teaching is kind of out of the bag and we
>don't get many invites these days.

In olden times, outside activities were indeed more prevalent but we have
more indoor-type opportunities - radio, tv, and internet. The internet is
rapidly becoming the new town square according to some. I wonder if the
apostles were here today if they could draw a crowd. I would think so.
The Spirit was powerfully upon them.

It was the individual, ordinary "lay-people" who were doing the preaching
as well as the apostles on a small but effective one-on-one scale. Doing
it everywhere! Acts 8:4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went
every where preaching the word. Acts 11:19 Now they which were scattered
abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen traveled as far as
Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the
Jews only.

>So, what's a wandering Christian to do? Build
>buildings of course. They aren't evil, or even less
>than, they just a means to an end--and infinitely
>practical at times. If a building serves a purpose
>then let it. And as I pointed out earlier, Jesus,
>Peter and Paul all used to preach in buildings, so
>what's the problem? And since the first 70 years or
>so were the building phase of Christianity (so to
>speak), the lack of buildings seem more a logistical
>phenomenon than anything of great spiritual
>significance.

Sounds like you know much more than those who had not made this discovery
and yet turned the world upside down without it.

You are merely comparing apples to oranges, imo. The word "preach"
pertains to evangelistic activity - not to the usual verbal activity of
the gathered saints. The passage of Paul "preaching long" to the saints
in Acts 20 is a completely botched translation. Preaching has to do with
the initial proclamation of the gospel and is thus distinguished from
teaching. The fact that Christian preaching occurred in the Temple and
synagogue conveys the idea that these were mission fields - not models of
how to do it in future ages.

We read of Jesus and the apostles preaching and teaching in the Temple
and synagogues and presume that all the saints were fellowshipping there
with other believers on an ongoing basis. Complete speculation. Jesus
himself made this prediction: John 16:2 They shall put you out of the
synagogues...

>Bottom line is that if a new faith (covenant if you
>prefer) begins around 30 AD, you should expect a bunch
>of basillica's standing on every corner by 70 AD.
>These early Christian folks were refugees and
>persecuted...not exactly the best time in the world
>for a building program, huh?

The problem here is that even in the regions where the saints were NOT
persecuted, they did not build "churches." In one passage, Phil. 4:22,
the saints in Ceaser's household are casually mentioned, which proves to
me that persecutions were not constant or universal, a fact that could
easily be documented, besides.

>Seems to me that an anti-building mentality is no
>better than a mentality that states that church can
>ONLY be held in a "special building". Aren't both
>just and attempt to spiritual physical phenomenon?
>Just my opinion, but I can't see any obvious logical
>flaws.
>
>Peace.

John, there are millions of people on this earth who own very little and
spend their days scratching around to find the next meal. Furthermore,
more and more are moving into cities - a trend which is expected to
continue. The idea that they are going to find and purchase land, build
something on it, and have a church is quite often beyond the realm of
possibility. So why even dangle the idea around in front of them? Why not
point them to no-cost, high efficiency house churches - the kind that
served the church during it's most glorious and most fruitful era?

David Anderson


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


Date: Fri, 1 Nov 2002 15:51:51 -0800 (PST)
From: John Henneberger <jchenn1213 * yahoo>
Subject: Re: [NTCP] His walk, our walk

David,

There seems to be a little bit of an inbuilt conflict
in what you are saying. Because on the one hand, you
say that buildings are superfluous and not inherently
evil in and of themselves -- and I heartily concur
with you.

But then you follow up by talking about how church
buildings tie up resources, how the temple no longer
exists (though a temple does exist in heaven), and how
the sacrificial system changed. It seems very much
like you are just undoing what you started out with.
But no matter. Probably just best to deal in
specifics here:

It seems a very popular thing to pour out a littany of
problems with modern churches and lay them at the feet
of buildings, as though having a home church would
solve the problems. And in one of your points, you
laid out a case for churches in developing nations.
But I ask you, in my correspondance, have I ruled out
home gatherings in these kinds of circumstances? Or
have I in some way promoted fiscal irresponsibility by
merely suggesting that having buildings is helpful in
some situations? I'm quite certain I haven't. I'm
also fairly certain at this point that I'm fighting
perceptions that are based on bad church experiences
rather than what I'm trying to say.

I'm also a bit disappointed that each time a valid
object is raised, it somehow gets compartmentalized
and then dismissed. For instance, if I cite examples
of prominant apostles, and Christ, making use of
buildings, I'm told they are evangelizing rather than
"having church". Or if I cite instances where letters
are directed to some church, with no mention of any
home, there is an assumption that a home was what was
implied. And if I point out the fact that there is a
temple in heaven, I'm referred to verses talking about
the temple in man's heart. And in perhaps the
strongest bit of evidence, when I point out the clear
indications of church persecution as being a factor in
the development of home churches, I'm asked to produce
evidence of church buildings where no persecutions
arose.

This seems like a very neat package indeed. In fact,
I'm not sure I'm really even involved in this debate.
I just seem to be like some springboard for others to
bounce on their way to wave a favored viewpoint.

My inability to produce a first century example of a
church doesn't doesn't prove anything (not that I've
really delved into this topic much). But as a
reasoning person, I realize that:

a) Christ was crucified by the Jews/Romans
b) The apostles feared they too might be killed, so
they hid
c) Christ told the apostles to wait in Jerusalem
(ahem... in an upper room).
d) Shortly after pentecost, the disciples were beaten
and threatened by the Jews.
e) Not long after that, Christians were put out of the
temple and the synagogues.
f) The Jewish leadership authorized home invasions to
search out Christians.
g) Paul's ministry began around 36 AD?
h) For what, sixteen or eigteen years, Paul was not
preaching to Gentiles.
i) By 64 AD, Nero's persecution of the Christians
began (based on writings by Tacitus)

So, if I do the math, preaching to the Gentiles, began
around 54 AD. And why is this significant? Well, if
Jews were persecuting Jewish Christians, as we no they
were; Saul was going town to town with letters. And
if Nero begins a persecution of Christians (both Jew
and Gentile) in 54 AD. Then the window of opportunity
for Gentiles to build, unpersecuted seems to be about
10 years long. That's not a lot of time for churches
to be build. My guess is that many of these churches
began in homes, then perhaps to rented buildings or
rooms, and then... well, then Nero began burning
Christians at the stake for the entertainment at his
parties.

Let's not downplay the persecution. Forget history
for a second and just looks at scripture -- Didn't
Jesus predict great persecution? And doesn't Acts
bear this out? Or look at history if you will -- need
we be reminded that 11 of the 12 original apostles
were martyred? Sounds like it was pretty dangerous to
be disciple in those days.

And didn't even Jesus borrow rooms on occasions when
it suited his purposes? Didn't the apostles do the
same (i.e. at Pentecost). And as I give Acts and
other books a fair reading, I see several verses that
seem to imply church in buildings. Read the following
verse with an open mind and see if it doesn't appear
to put church in both buidlings AND homes.

Acts 2:46-47
46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple,
and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their
food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47
praising God and having favor with all the people. And
the Lord added to the CHURCH daily those who were
being saved. NKJV

Now I'm sure someone will have some clever spin to
explain this verse away too -- which is why I'm
starting to lose heart with this discussion. There
just seems to be a "hanging on" by some to the
mentality the there is no value whatsoever in a
communal church building -- with which I heartily
disagree.

There is no clear mandate in scripture to conduct
church only in homes. There seems a clear number of
verses placing Christians in buildings while doing the
work of God. There also seem very valid reasons to
expect to see few churches during the first century.

- --Just my thoughts. Peace Cyber-bro.

 


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