27 November, 2006

FHC: The Church of Tomorrow - Part 2

Last week, our hero said,
In the church of tomorrow, the pastorate is going to collapse under the strain of its own inefficiency.

After that happens, everything is going to go to pot. There are going to be a hundred different alternatives to the old pastorate, and some of them are going to fail spectacularly. A lot of them are going to look at lot like the current pastorate, but the differences are going to be crucial. I mean, it's not like 400 year old denominations are going to just fade away. Remember, though, that none of those denominations are more than 500 years old - except one.

In the end, one general pattern is going to succeed. The doctrinally agnostic fellowship group is going to rise. It is going to be characterized by high standards for entrance, and lots of opportunity to be busy for the Lord.

In part one, I asserted that the pastorate as it is currently exercised will fail to keep up with GenY Christians. I'll grant you that this may be wishful thinking on my part, and that a betting man might be wise to put his money elsewhere. So, for the sake of argument (only ;-) let's assume that the pastorate is doomed to survive.

My second assertion is that the doctrinally agnostic fellowship group is going to prevail.

Ya'll know that my dream is for saints to quit driving across town to love the Lord with their doctrinal allies. You know I want people to start fellowshipping with their believing neighbors - nearly daily, and in ways that might change the world.

Today, let me do what I meant to do the other day.

A friend of my son's was grilling me a little on my wierd set of beliefs. It was a joy to talk to someone genuinely interested in why I would want something so odd as a neighborhood church.

He brought up the usual assortment of counterpoints, but he did it pretty well.

What if someone starts teaching error?

I contend that serious error is the domain of theologians and denominations. More specifically, serious error begins when money enters the picture. If I am your brother in Christ, why do I need to split the hair's breadth of difference between whether you are saved by grace through faith, or by faith that comes through grace? Why do I need to discern whether you believe in inerrancy or infallibility to call you a brother?

If you believe Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of the Living God and if you take His Word for your guide for life, then we can start the business of loving Him together. One of us may make a mistake somewhere, and the other will make a mistake somewhere else, but we can proceed down the Way.

Ah, but if I am a pastor of denomination A, then I have to distinguish myself from denominations B through Z. Now we have a marketing battle on our horizon, and don't think it doesn't happen. Suddenly, the church is about product differentiation. Our church is more friendly, more accurate, more worshipful, more missional, more doctrinal, more, more more.

They say that to err is human, but to really mess up it takes a computer. Even so with Christians. We all err from time to time, but it takes a denomination to lift those talking points up from the earth, and draw all like men unto them.

The right answers that separate Methodists from Baptists are worse the errors that they might have made together.

But nobody ever did anything like that before.

I am not an archaeologist, but I am given to understand that early Christianity tended to gravitate to a given quarter of the city. There was a known "Christian quarter" in Antioch, for example, and in Rome. Whether it has been done since then is immaterial to me. If it was good enough for Antioch, it's good enough for me.

I drool to think that all of the Christians in Columbus might buy up every available house in the most depressed part of inner Columbus. It would give us something to do that could make a difference. It would give us good cause to materially help each other with some home repair at the very least! It would send a clear message to Columbus that the church is a real thing, and really cares. And we would be close enough to real people to love them. Mostly, though, we would be close enough to each other to really love one another. That is worth its weight in diamonds.

But what about our witness to our neighbors?

Seriously? What witness to our neighbors?

No individual can really be a witness to his neighbors. Even if his witness is perfect, the neighbors cannot help but ascribe his loving deeds to his nature. But when a church steps out, that is a witness!

I know each and every one of my neighbors, and they think well of me. It took me a while to do that, because it's hard for me to walk up and be friendly to people. But, I got it done.

They all know I'm a believer.

So what?

What is it about the fact that I am a nice guy that will teach anyone that Jesus Christ is Lord over a people who really know how to love? What is it about a half-million Christians spread liberally across Columbus that will give the slightest light to any of them? Can we inspire them when they know that we hardly talk to each other? What about when my neighbor knows that his neighbor two doors down is another type of Christian, and that we don't talk to each other? How does that fulfill Jesus command/prophecy that they will know we are Christians by our love?

Nah. That won't fly.

We need something different.

Denominations are killing the church. If you don't believe it, just look at Pepsi-Cola company and your nearest mega-church. The only difference is the budget. It's not about product any more for either of them. It's all about "customer experience."

I'm 42. I'm past the age of idealistic declarations, and yet I would endure anything to see our denominations stripped of their majesty. The majesty is not His. The blood that keeps them running is green. Dollars flow through the smallest of denominations (in the largest of denominations) in a way neither Peter nor Paul could ever have imagined, much less robbed from each other.

I know I'm a fool to hope that anything can take the denominations down, but hope I must. What I won't do is ever believe that it is Christ that preserves them. They rest on dollars. They move on dollars. They even pray on dollars. And obviously, they pray for them.

I'd better stop. I try only to get this wound up in person.

But, remember me talking about football and advertising? Yeah, I wasn't thinking about football and advertising. I was thinking about the denominations. 33,000 of them, and growing every day in division, cunning and wealth.

Lord save Your church.

Necessary clarifications:
+ The church that is a member of a denomination is not the object of my ire. They need to be rescued, not rejected.
+ The saints who service these denominations are not the object of my ire. They may be making bricks without straw, but they are doing it unto the Lord.
+ Money is not the object of my ire. Money has never loved me, nor Christ's church, but it's never hated us either.
+ It is the act of denominating that kills us.

I don't believe the church of tomorrow will foreswear denominations due to spiritual insight, but because of greatest diress. And when the trial comes, I will hate it as badly as the next guy. But when the church emerges from the ashes like the gold of 1 Cor 3, I will weep with joy.

37 comments:

Milly said...

Now as you know I don’t care for man made titles so I’m in. I’m a Christian who attends a CoC.
I had a conversation with the associate minister about words tossed on things. I told him more and more people want a one on one experience. He tossed that word on it. I cringed. He then said missional is the new word, we want to be missional. I’d love to see more work and less word adjustments. Why aren’t we Christ centered and seek each other? I can see the church buildings empty. I see a few things in the future the mega churches will grow, people want to spend as little time as they can doing extra work in a large arena you don’t have to volunteer and you don’t have to get to know me. The in between size will close, it costly and difficult to keep up, volunteers are few and far between at times. Small in home groups will thrive. I also wonder if on line churches will spring forward.

DugALug said...

CP,

It is true that Christ rejected the religiosity of His day, but He didn't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Jesus didn't reject the Temple, the people running it rejected Him. Even in the Old Testament, there wasn't one tribe of Judah, but 12. In revelation is refers to many churches and some of their vices and virtues.

When Paul conversed with Corinth, or Thesolonica, he did so under one banner of unity and said to believers that they should basically not worry about the denominations of others even while acknowledging that there were denominations. Paul saw them as an unescapable reality: neither good nor bad.

I think your rallying against the machine is noteworthy, and you certainly bring up some valid issues, but still, you are belittling the good that many of the workers in these denominations are able to do. In particular Global efforts.

I go to an Assembly of God church, and with their looser-confederation-esque government, we have many liberties not afforded other denominations, but still there are times when having a stronger central government would have been nice.

Without sounding too fatalistic, the idea that birds of a feather flock together is not necesarily something that we have much choice in. In more cases than not, seeking out like-minded assurances reaffirms our faith. To say this is only a denominational thing is nothing more than hooie-balooie (That's a technical term).

I also think that you are being kind of closed-minded about theological error. I'll give a good example of something that I believe is theological error that crept through the body about 10-15 years ago: Holy Laughter. There were books written on the subject, entire grass-roots movements based on it, and church-splits because of this one thing. Denominations had little to do with this. This was a result of many Christians being drawn into a silly side-track from God's purpose for us.

As a former Catholic, it is easy to see the influence of a flawed doctrine and an emphasis of tradition over a personal relationship can cripple a body of believers, but in saying that, it is also easy to see how, historically, this behomoth was able to preserve the Gospel when most other Christian venues had dried up.

Then there are issues of global relief. These same organizations, which you are poo-pooing (again another technical term), are able to pour resources and blessings on those facing great need. Relief efforts of this magnitude would be nearly impossible with only small-spatterings of grass-root churches.

I am not an anti-anti-denomonitationalist, but I am wary of those who are not willing to draw a line in the sand and say this is what I believe that God has put on my heart... are you with me or against me? This is not an issue of salvation, or even error. This is an issue of Christian perspective. In essense, this is at the heart of a healthy denomination.

God Bless
Doug

salguod said...

Wow, good stuff.

codepoke said...

Great thoughts, Milly.

That the megas might live, and the minis, but the mid-size starve makes a lot of sense. I don't know about online churches. Seems like a big "miss" to me, but then I'm a baby boomer. I'm not supposed to like any of this new-fangled, high-falutin stuff. :-)

codepoke said...

Hey DugALug! Thanks for the careful read and thoughts. :-D

I have to disagree completely about Christ rejecting the Temple. And when you reference the letter to the Corinthians as somehow supporting denominations, I think you are forgetting Paul railing against Corinth dividing into birds of a feather behind Cephas, Apollos, etc. He evidently saw them as a "must be escaped" reality.

As to holy laughter, when that came through, I was a member of a stand-alone church. It passed right over us. We never even knew it was happening. We kept following the Lord. I still say that to do error really well, you have to be in a denomination.

Global-relief. Yep, I'm for it. Let's make some global relief organizations that Christians can decide to support, but don't confuse them with churches.

I am wary of those who are not willing to draw a line in the sand and say this is what I believe that God has put on my heart

I'll go as far as the Nicene Creed without blinking. To go further, though, you have to start getting into marketing ploys, and I want no part.

codepoke said...

Thank you very much, Salguod. I didn't really mean to go negative like this in this little series, so I had buyer's remorse after writing it. Thanks for your encouragement.

DugALug said...

I think you are forgetting Paul railing against Corinth dividing into birds of a feather behind Cephas, Apollos

No I didn't forget that, in fact that is why I referenced Corinthians. Paul recognized the divisions and reminded believers that they were in Christ first: that these man-made divisions should never come in the way of embracing the fullness of Christ and restrict fellowship with other believers. Here is my rub (as well as I believe Paul's), ask a denominational attendee 'What faith are you?' When I was in my former denomination, I would have answerd that I am Catholoic: buzz... wrong answer! I am Christian, the denominations should be subserviant to the greater dominion that falls under the Christian circle (a branch off of the same vine... so to speek).

Global aid and relief should be a a biproduct of a healthy body of believers. In Rome, by the 2nd century AD, they basically left Christians alone because they were tending to the impoverished, and the Senate was getting less complaints. That is what I call a healthy body of believers. Within 100 years of this, Christianity was made the 'official' religion of Rome.

Thankfully, Holy Laughter, missed our door too. But it shattered at least two congregations that I know about. Whether it is of God or not, it was clearly taken out of context and became a great distraction. It's fruit speeks for itself.

Christain aid organizations are awesome, like the Salvation Army, and World Vision, but I believe there are denominations that have specific hearts for this type of thing.

My church, for example, is big on missions and AOG churches accross america push mission work. Other churches are big on local evangelism, while other are big on tending to the already saved. None of these focuses are wrong, they are merely what God has put on the hearts of this body.

I'll go as far as the Nicene Creed without blinking. To go further, though, you have to start getting into marketing ploys, and I want no part.

Whoa! You better stop writing on this blog then because your posts espouse your personal beliefs, exactly as the apostles creed does. Sorry brother, but we do believe and it is healthy to say to others that this what we believe, letting your 'siblings' help refine the errors. Unfortunately statements of belief tend to lead to denominations. Seems like you are in a pickle on this.

BTW, your TULIP articles were awesome: though it did convinve me that I am about 90 percent Armenian. I don't know if this was your intent, but the more I read the more conviced I was.

One last thing. If you have a church made up of 2 or more like-minded believers, then by definition, you are a denomination. I know that's a bummer for all of those anti-denominationalist. But it is like the punk fashion movement: it was based on anti-fashion, but in itself became what it was rallying against.

I think your real beef is not with denominations (though you think it is), but rather, with the human corruption that inevitably creeps in. The bottom line, is that accountablity is the answer to some of this. I see that small pseudo-non-denominational have little accountability and this haslead many believers into error as well. Rally against deceipt and corruption: they are the true enemies.

Great stuff brother, keep up the great work and be blessed.

God Bless
Doug

Kansas Bob said...

I think that the only thing that keeps the denoms and non-denoms in business is our inability to embrace change and the fear of new things.

Really all of us are pretty complacent ... embracing change is hard ... we find it hard to change because we have gotten comfortable with things the way they are ... and it doesn't get easier as we get older :)

codepoke said...

DugALug,

:-)

I agree with all your comments and complaints, but mine are still mine.

Sorry brother, but we do believe and it is healthy to say to others that this what we believe, letting your 'siblings' help refine the errors.

The Nicene Creed is where I draw the line of "requirements," not of beliefs. Were you and I to fellowship together, and you believed in the millenial reign while I did not, this would be no hindrance to our fellowship. I would not ask either of us to quit believing anything.

One last thing. If you have a church made up of 2 or more like-minded believers, then by definition, you are a denomination.

Bzzzzt.

When you hire people whose job it is to coordinate the actions of two or more churches, then you are a denomination. Denominations become denominations when they get a budget that is hierarchically above the churches they "support."

I am about 90 percent Armenian. I don't know if this was your intent, but the more I read the more conviced I was.

Very cool. That's encouraging! Thank you. Arminians don't get enough credit for having a solid belief system. I'm glad I could open it up a little bit.

codepoke said...

our inability to embrace change and the fear of new things.

Wow. Great call, KB. I will have to mull on that one.

pearlie said...

They say that to err is human, but to really mess up it takes a computer.

LOL ... I like that one.

When I was younger I am into the denomination thing - usually looking at the other denomination warily. God forgive me. My eyes are more opened now - there are differences but these differences are not life threatening, so as long as we all believe in the same Lord who suffered and died on the cross and raised on the third day, ascended into heaven, we are brothers and sisters.

Danny Kaye said...

Great writing, CP! I'm all up for looking to the future on this.

I understand your points, and they are valid....for MOST. I know I've argued the point before about having strong convictions about some very fundamental doctrines. (And you and I both agree that it is crucial to hang on to our core beliefs.) I would certainly not let a silly thing like "how often should we take the Lord's Supper", or "should there be musical instuments in our worship services" keep me from having deep fellowship with ANY Christian. But when the core values are not agreed upon (method of salvation...and the like), then how can two people on opposite sides of those types of doctrinal beliefs be unified?

It ain't gonna happen.

Please don't mistake me. I love the thought. But if I am trying to have a deep, unified fellowship with someone who doesn't feel they need to be baptized, there will be an obvious strain in the relationship. Again, I am talking about issues that we as individuals do NOT hold as matters of opinion.

One solution would be to leave us Chruch-o-Christ-ers out of it. :-(

or...

Have all those who share one set of core beliefs fellowship as a group, and those who share another set of core beliefs fellowship as another group, and so on...

But that would be denominationalism. (heh-heh)

It also strikes me as funny that you would say, "No individual can really be a witness to his neighbors."

There are examples in the NT of individual Christians going off to share the gospel all alone, and doing it successfully such as Philip, the Eunuch, the woman at the well...etc. Jesus, himself, would count among their number. And He would fall directly under the catagory of "his witness is perfect". ;-)

Using the Scripture you referenced, our purpose for loving one another is so that others may know that WE are Christians and not so that they might believe that Jesus is Lord and Saviour. The latter can be done by one person.

So, no, it is not impossible.

One more thing that I found to be rather disappointing about this article. You said:
"I'm 42. I'm past the age of idealistic declarations..."

Does that mean I only have a year left?

bummer...

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Andreia said...

I am so glad that wasn't about football!

Seriously though Danny Kaye I don't understand why a person that believed in baptism as the only path to salvation couldn't worship and be in communion with those that do not. Isn't salvation ultimately the work of the Spirit? When you sit in service with others do you have to qualify who is "saved" before you sing or break bread?
I'm not trying to ruffle feathers but it seems to me much like the circumcision debate of old. As brothers and sistas in Christ we are called to be together, not to divide, and the rest will be taken care of by the Father.

Danny Kaye said...

No ruffled feathers here, Andreia.

I don't want to turn the thread into a doctrinal debate. So I will avoid the "why do I believe that" stuff and just stick to the practicals of your concerns.

"Seriously though Danny Kaye I don't understand why a person that believed in baptism as the only path to salvation couldn't worship and be in communion with those that do not."

I understand your thoughts on this and why you think them. Let me try to explain my thinking. And I know that what I type will have the potential to be a bit off-putting to you. But try to see it from my side first.

As far as I have studied, someone who is "In Christ" can only have deep, unified, Christian, fellowship with others who are "In Christ." (I don't think we disagree on this. But correct me if I am wrong.) So if I believe that a person must be baptized for the forgiveness of sins in order to be "In Christ", then I would also believe that someone who has not been baptized for the forgiveness of their sins is "In Christ."

How then, could I say I am having true worship with someone who I don't believe is "In Christ"?

I also don't believe thatI could ever convert non-believers to the Lord if I were trying to do so with someone who believed in some other way of being "In Christ." We might be able to teach some things about Jesus and the need to have sins forgiven, but as soon as we get the the "HOW" to have sins forgiven, the person we are tyring to convert will be quite confused as we both try to explain why "I'm right and he's wrong." I use converting the lost as just one of many examples.

You see, it is easy for those of you who believe that there are other ways to become a Christian (praying Jesus into your heart, being overcome by the Spirit...etc) to simply accept that the other person is "In Christ." But if you believe that the Bible teaches what I believe it teaches regarding salvation, then it is black and white, and no shades of gray.

'Zat make sense?

DugALug said...

CP,

Mr Webster says the word denomination means a class or kind of persons or things distinguished by a specific name.

So technically you are sort of right that I am slightly off: you would need to give your group of two a name. But, in saying that, no paid staff, heierarchy, other churches or endorsements by paid athletes are really necessary.

So enjoy atending your non-denominational-denomonition. You rebel you! ;)

God Bless
Doug

DugALug said...

DK,

You hit on the essense of why mainline denominations exist. There are beliefs that we draw our line in the sand and say, "I can't go any further than this".

Durring the weeks where the Nicene Council met, over 30 people lost their lives or parts of their bodies, arguing over the precepts that define Christianity in these meetings that were supposedly a collection of 'Christian brothers. So this is nothing new.

Be it, transubstantiaion or consubstantiaion, Predistination, Pre or post melinial escatology, or just plain old what it means to be baptiaed, these items that we hold so dear to our 'core' make it tough to fellowship with those who don't quite see eye to eye with our veiw.

I don't see a great answer to this, but I will say that many of these disputes are kind of silly or overshadowing the real issue.

Baptism, for instance, comes down to interpretating literal word versus extracting the heart of what is commanded. I won't say this is trivial, but I can certainly see how someone could see water baptism as a work.

Salvation is a function of faith, not of sprinkling or immersion in a fluid. That being said, water baptism is a great external testimony to what has occured on the inside and believers should be encourged to proclaim there faith in this manner.

Sorry for rambling.

God Bless
Doug

Andreia said...

Maybe Doug, I see it this way, despite my COC upbringing, because I am still have 5 years, 4 months and couple of days left of idealistic declarations!

Just wanted to brag a bit about being younger than ya'll

Andreia said...

Sorry I meant to address that to Danny Kaye!

codepoke said...

Danny,

Do you believe that someone can get it all right, and get the reasons why wrong? I do. So, I can fellowship with almost anyone.

"That which is born of Spirit is spirit."

It's not, "That which is properly indoctrinated is spirit," but that which is born. Being born is something that comes from above.

I was indoctrinated against CoC pretty thoroughly, and being a fallen man, I can fill in any gaps in that indoctrination pretty quickly. I can separate myself from you in a red-hot hurry. You and I both know that upstanding protestants are more than willing to paint their circle such that you don't fit into it.

Life does not follow doctrine, though. Life comes first. First we are born from above, and then we start learning what that means. First we fall in love with a Savior, then we begin to figure out how to love Him. So, one of us has not figured out what baptism means yet. I've got a lifetime and a little more to get that right. In the meantime, I have a Lord and I have brothers, and baptism is not going to stand between me and them on my side.

codepoke said...

DugALug,

So enjoy atending your non-denominational-denomonition. You rebel you! ;)

Well, as soon as your denomination fires all its staff and returns all its money. As soon as your denomination's churches stop communicating to a corporate board, and start communicating with the churches that are down the street. As soon as your pastors can worry more about the direction in which the Spirit is leading than about whether that direction is within the denomination's delineations.

Then, I'll happily call myself a member.

codepoke said...

"I'm 42. I'm past the age of idealistic declarations..."

Does that mean I only have a year left?

still have 5 years, 4 months and couple of days left of idealistic declarations!

Codepoke wipes the soot off his face from that backfire. :-D

Note to self. Next time try,
I'm not 20 any more. I've tried all my idealistic ideas, and they've all failed, but I still want to see our denominations stripped of ...

Danny Kaye said...

Doug,
I will not turn this into a doctrinal debate about baptism. I don't believe that is the heart behind the thread. The purpose of my comment is to show that, practically speaking, CP's ideas, though very attractive, are not realistic.

You say that my mindset is the very reason that denominations exist. I believe you even called them "silly." And yet aren’t you telling me to throw away what I believe the Bible teaches because it is obvious that I am wrong and you are right? If I am convinced that the Bible teaches something that is not popular in religious circles, I cannot simply throw it away for that reason. That would be the most revolting and unfaithful thing I could ever do against God. And you telling me to do so does as much for our unity as me telling you that I believe it is at baptism that our sins are forgiven. And that is why the practicality of CP's suggestions will not work. You won't budge...and nor will I. This is why they are "core" beliefs.

No, I'll not throw away my core beliefs just to appease the masses. That is a bad row to hoe.

DugALug said...

DK,

I stink at conveying things as I write. Sorry if I sauntered off the path. I have no problem with denominations. I am, in fact agreeing with you.

My point was that whatever the reason, denominations exists because of issues that may even seem silly to some and show-stoppers to others. I see the need for them, though CP makes some valid points.

It's all good, and sorry for sending a mixed message.

God Bless
Doug

DugALug said...

CP,

Man, it seems like I am puting my fingers in all the right places. Now they hurt!

I think your extrapolating a little bit far here compadre.

I don't really care if you sell all your worldly possesions, huddle in tents, and eat locust and honey on a daily basis while your little group of non-paid believers spend their entire lives memorizing scriptures, under those beutifully cold winter nights in Columbus: you are my brother in Christ even though you are in another denomination and that affords you my love, respect, and fellowship. And make no mistake about it, you are in a denominational church. There's no need to get mad about it: it is just the reality.

It doesn't mean the we can't fellowship, nor join forces to do the Lord's work. It does mean that we don't necesarily see eye to eye on 'doctinal' things. I can live with that and love you for the Christian that you are.

Go in peace man!

God Bless
Doug

codepoke said...

DK,

If I am convinced that the Bible teaches something that is not popular in religious circles ...

Jesus would stand with you here, and so do I.

Still:
Rom 14:5
One man esteemeth one day above another *: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. 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.


Paul insists in all of Rom 14 that there can be things that matter, and on which we can disagree. Either way, we must be fully persuaded in our own minds. Baptism is one of those things on which I am fully persuaded, and yet that does not prevent me from fully embracing those who are persuaded the other way. It is not for you. I understand.

You won't budge...and nor will I.

I embrace you as a full brother in Christ. I could worship the Lord with you in every way. That's not "in spite of" your beliefs on baptism. That's because you and I share one eternal Blood that cleanses us, vivifies us, and grafts us into the same Vine. Where our beliefs differ, one of us is wrong. I anxiously wait to learn which of us that is, but until then I won't let it divide us if I can help it.

No, I'll not throw away my core beliefs just to appease the masses. That is a bad row to hoe.

So now I'm just a mass?

It's easier to appeal against the masses, but I'm me. I'm a brother here, and I think I've given no evidence to the contrary. I'm not asking you to throw away your core belief, but I am asking you to subject it to the Life of Christ that lives in us both. Can you not?

I don't ask to be appeased. I ask to be allowed to treat all my actual brothers as actual brothers, even if I'm silly enough to disagree with them.

Still, I'm not 20 any more. ;-)

I know that this is not going to happen. I know that your denomination is always going to doubt anyone who doesn't sign their particular documents. The certainty that they will never take Philippians or Ephesians at their word doesn't make them right, though. And all the sad reality in the world won't make me love the way every denomination cripples us all.

DugALug said...

CP,

One more thing:

As soon as your denomination's churches stop communicating to a corporate board, and start communicating with the churches that are down the street. As soon as your pastors can worry more about the direction in which the Spirit is leading than about whether that direction is within the denomination's delineations.

I beleive my church does exactly all of these thing.

Our staff is paid, as they should be, and we do correspond with Springfield, but again, AOG is a looser confederation as opposed to a rigid-centrist government. As a former elder/board member, I can assure you that the money in our church is well spent, and I very comfortable with the stewardship of it. It isn't perfect, but I am comfortable with it.

Thanks for letting me point this out.

God Bless
-Doug

codepoke said...

DugALug,

I don't really care if you sell all your worldly possesions, huddle in tents, and eat locust

Dude! I'm not sure whether to cross myself to ward off a curse, or assure you that I'm no such saintly character. ;-D

you are my brother in Christ even though you are in another denomination ... Go in peace man!

And the Lord's peace be on you, brother!

Thanks for all the thoughts. This was a lot of fun.

Milly said...

Wow thanks for this one. I enjoyed my fence time watching you boys.
Cool thing is when we all get to Heaven you will all be right. :-}

Danny Kaye said...

CP,

"So now I'm just a mass?"

As I said to Andreia...

"I know that what I type will have the potential to be a bit off-putting to you. But try to see it from my side first."

I know our biases will not fully allow that. But try. That's all I ask. I am not asking that you agree with me. I am only asking that you try to see why I agree with me. ;-)

And I also knew that one day I would be called to answer this. And I haven't wanted to. But now that I am asked...

"Baptism is one of those things on which I am fully persuaded,"

Let me see if I can accurately paint the diffrence between what you are fully persuaded of regarding baptism, and of what I am fully persuaded regarding baptism.

CP, can a person who has not been baptized be forgiven of their sins? I believe your answer is "Yes."

Whereas...

I believe that the Bible teaches that it is only after a person has come to a conviction that Jesus is Lord and, by faith, publically declares Him to be Lord, after which that person will be fully immersed in the waters of baptism. And after that, he will come up out of the waters of baptism...forgiven of his sins. And only at that point may we receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Is this what you believe is the Biblical method to salvation? Is this what you did?

I would venture a guess that this is not how you, or Doug, Kb, or Andreia view baptism.

Many can argue that I am wrong about what the Bible teaches. But as of yet, the arguments have not convinced me. (Believe me, I've tried to understand your points of view.) But I read the Scriptures and cannot seem to come up with anything else.

Does this make sense? Does this explain why I stumble and trip trying to have increasingly stronger relationships with you all while still hold to my core beliefs.

"The certainty that they will never take Philippians or Ephesians at their word doesn't make them right, though."

This is what I am talking about. You assume that I don't. I know I do. I feel the same way about the Acts 2:38 and all the rest as you do about those. I take it at its word. But so far, the explanations I have been given for why Acts 2:38 and the rest don't really mean what they say have been unconvincing.

CP, you are a cherished friend, even if only digitally for now. I understand that what I typed here is rediculous to you. And I really am not interested in fighting over baptism. I don't believe that was the purpose of the thread. I have learned MUCH from you, Doug, KB, Kc, and many, MANY others. I just disagree with some things that I cannot bend on.

Again, I am not asking you to agree (though that'd be cool!). I am only asking that you give it your best college try to see why I think in such a warped way.

Danny Kaye said...

Doug,

Um...heh-heh...oops.

Sorry for the misinterpretation.

codepoke said...

That is a touching comment, Danny. Thank you.

I know that we hold a digital love for each other, and that neither of us wants to be offensive. My toes are all unsmooshed, and I hope yours are too. No worries here.

I also hasten to add that I understand, and have understood for some time now, why you hold to your core belief on baptism. I don't believe I have attempted to persuade you away from it at all. I understand that it is a great concern of yours, but it's not a concern of mine. Maybe some day we'll hash it out over on your blog.

I referenced Rom 14. 1 Cor might be more to the point. The situation in which we find ourselves in this discussion is very nearly the same as that of the Jews with the uncircumcised gentiles.

In that case (only), the gentiles were clearly proven right, but remember back to the years before the letter to the Galatians and before the council of Acts 15. There were 15 years, as I recall, in which the gentiles believed that circumcision was optional, and the Jewish brothers in the Lord considered the gentiles to still be in their filth before the Lord.

Those were hard years.

And the council of Acts 15 did not solve the problems of food, drink and things offered to idols. In 1 Cor 10:31-33, Paul still has to say,
Whether therefore you eat, or drink, or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give none offense, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.

And after all this, Paul still had Timothy circumcised, and praised praiseworthy brothers on both sides of the divide.

Brother, with all that's in me, I hope that you will agree that we could disagree on this and still have full fellowship in the Lord together as a part of the same church. But and if you don't, I understand.

God be with you,

DugALug said...

DKI,

Sorry for the misinterpretation.

No prob... sorry I failed my articulation class this week.

God Bless
Doug

Andreia said...

Okay I don't want to belabor a point if we have put it to bed. Did we?

I reread Danny Kaye's delination of those that are "in Christ" and those that aren't I can't help but wonder....

and that usually causes trouble..


the five steps to salvation plan seems so linear

I was imagining how God might think of all of us (saved and unsaved) as in-progression to becoming more like Christ, but so very "unthere" yet.

In other words, does he look at us as THE SAVED and the UNSAVED or does he see us and say

Wow, that group of folks in XYZ church get some of IT and those at ABC church get some of IT but NO ONE is really GETTING IT!

All questions here tonight...

Danny Kaye said...

Andreia
Unfortunately, I only have about thirty seconds to blog this morning. But I'll throw out my simple answer.

I do not believe that God looks at a group and judges them as a whole. I believe God looks at every individual on earth and knows if they are "In Christ" or not. He knows if their sins have been forgiven, or if they have not.

Sorry so brief. But I gotta run.

Milly said...

Good answer Danny.

codepoke said...

Andreia,

I am not sure what you mean.

If you mean that a person might be getting closer and closer to knowing God, then I think that sounds a lot like being closer and closer to being pregnant. We all know there's no such thing as half-pregnant. The spiritual Life of Christ lives in us, or it doesn't. We are born from above, or we are not. We are, as Danny reminds us, in Christ or out.

Groups and doctrines, however, get closer and closer to the truth. Only the spiritual can see Spirit at all, but even the most spiritual will never see it all completely. God is not surprised or disappointed that none of us is getting it perfectly.

Ecc 3:11 ... He hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

We progress in our knowing of Him, and we know Him best together.

Of course, this is all part of why I believe that we need to start cutting across denominational boundaries. I need the insights my brothers have and that I lack.

Inbreeding is a bad thing.