24 October 2007

Some mixture of error

by Frank Turk

I'm sure a lot of you find most of my posts to be of some mixture of error, but that's not what this VERY BRIEF post this morning is about. It's about this passage of the LBCF, which I have been trying to get to for weeks now:
The purest churches under heaven are subject to mixture and error; and some have so degenerated as to become no churches of Christ, but synagogues of Satan; nevertheless Christ always hath had, and ever shall have a kingdom in this world, to the end thereof, of such as believe in him, and make profession of his name.
And most people read this passage in this way:
The purest churches under heaven are subject to mixture and error; and some have so degenerated as to become no churches of Christ, but synagogues of Satan; nevertheless Christ always hath had, and ever shall have a kingdom in this world, to the end thereof, of such as believe in him, and make profession of his name.
But let me suggest to you that this is the way it was intended to be read:
The purest churches under heaven are subject to mixture and error; and some have so degenerated as to become no churches of Christ, but synagogues of Satan; nevertheless Christ always hath had, and ever shall have a kingdom in this world, to the end thereof, of such as believe in him, and make profession of his name.
Now, why is that impoprtant? It's important because this statement is an affirmation of the necessity of "churches" in spite of the many, many flaws in each indiviodual church.

Let's face it: your church is flawed. No matter which one you choose, you can find something wrong with it which, if you comb the NT hard enough, will cause you to call it bad enough to leave. But the question is only this: at what point do we seek to be obedient to God's word in spite of human mixture and error rather than seeking our church to be immediately a perfect and infallible place where nothing bad ever happens?

Discuss that today, and if I get a minute I'll come back to clean up the comments.


58 comments:

Daryl said...

Good morning all,

I'll start the comments by suggesting that the point would be somewhere very close to the point where the preaching and teaching of the gospel is being prevented and studiously avoided, as opposed to merely sidelined or overlooked.

Not sure how close to that point you'd go, but given our human proclivity for bailing and insisting on something approaching perfection, I imagine that point to be somewhere closer to the line that what our initial reaction would suggest.
As has been suggested on previous posts, the point at which you're actually run out of Dodge for being faithful is probably a good standard to set.

777law said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Benjamin Nitu said...

My church is not flawed. Ohhh wait, I'm a member ... yeah, it's flawed. :)

The important question is what kind of error are we talking about.
There are few areas where to compromise is not an option: Trinity, salvation, Jesus' bodily resurrection and others.

But I totally agree with the quote. The church will always exist, but not because we are so good at being the church, but rather because He is so good at building His church.

777law said...

I posted this John Calvin quote in an ealier blog which left off where this one seems to pick up. Hope it is helpful:

"But if the holy prophets had scruples against separating themselves from the church because of many great misdeeds, not of one man or another but of almost all the people, we claim too much for ourselves if we dare withdraw at once from the communion of the church just because the morals of all do not meet our standard, or even square with the profession of Christian faith."

stratagem said...

No argument with the idea that the local church is necessary.

However, I think it is equally erroneous to de-emphasize one phrase within the whole passage, as Cent does, just as much as it is erroneous to emphasize the 'synagogues of Satan' phrase. Both practices are adding to the scripture.

From the whole passage, I take away two points: First, there are some churches that have become non-churches. Second, nevertheless, there will always be churches that although not perfect, are still within the realm of God's truth.

As far as literally answering the question that Cent asked, the answer is that we should at all times and situations be in obedience to God's word. (Maybe it was a trick question?)

Daryl said...

Stratagem,

You said:

"As far as literally answering the question that Cent asked, the answer is that we should at all times and situations be in obedience to God's word."

So...where does it say in God's word, when to leave and when not to leave? And if you believe it says so, boil it down, what does it tell us?

donsands said...

There's an Epsicopol Church, St. Timothy's, in my neighborhood where the pastor left and took 2/3 of the congregation, he is now an Anglican pastor.

It's because of the homosexual endorsement thing in Massachuttes.

I went to speak with the pastor at the local church who had 1/3 of a congregation left, and he was discouraged, because he said he didi not endorse the ordination of a homosexual bishop, but still wanted to remain Episcopol, and not change to Anglican.

I myself just left my church, for all the leders stepped down, and left, as well as 2/3's of the congregation.

One thing is for sure, church is a messy business. Soemtimes it can cause a lot of pain.

For the average Christian, I would say find a church with a genuine pastor who preaches the Bible. that is rare enough today. And if you find one stay there, and worship, serve, and love the Lord; supporst and encourage your pastor and elders. And also, love the Church, which is the body of Christ.

Johnny Dialectic said...

"at what point do we seek to be obedient to God's word in spite of human mixture and error rather than seeking our church to be immediately a perfect and infallible place where nothing bad ever happens?"

By first disabusing ourselves of the latter notion.

Second, by being like Epaphras (Col. 4:12) and WRESTLING in prayer for our pastor and leadership. This is, in fact, an obligation of all church members.

Stefan said...

Cent:

Thank you for your ongoing exploration of the local church. By God's grace, He's led me to the sort of church where there is no temptation to leave, but your many posts on this subject have nevertheless taught me a lot—and convicted me deeply—on the nature and governance of a community of believers. God is using you, brother.

And as I go off to our weekly prayer breakfast, a thousand amens to Johnny Dialectic's admonition. Even in those churches that are not falling away, pray for your church, for your elders, and for your pastors, that the Lord will continue to guide, comfort, and bless them. Thank Him for whatever they are doing right, and plead with Him for whatever they are doing wrong. In the priesthood of all believers, we're all in this together.

JackW said...

The first part of # 12 of the LBCF interested me and I couldn’t wait to look up the references. After I did I had a headache, because I couldn’t figure out how those references were in context. I guess that they reference the last half of #12, but I sure don’t see a connection to the first half. Can anyone help me with that?

I serve and worship in a church that I have not formally joined. In order to join the church you must come forward at the end of the service in an alter call like fashion. Then you have to answer two questions: Have you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Have you been baptized by emersion? Answer yes to both and you’re in! I under stand what they are looking for in the first question, but it just bugs me the way it’s worded. I don’t think He needs my acceptance, He is Lord and Savior and alter calls are just weird.

JackW said...

I guess that should be immersion, huh? :-0

Tom Chantry said...

JackW

Nobody but nobody can figure out the references in the LBCF. They make no sense, and they weren't (obviously) in the original. Whoever added them did a great disservice to Reformed Baptists everywhere. You'll need to do your own reading/study to determine whether the framers of the confession were correct.

Mike Riccardi said...

The important question is what kind of error are we talking about.
There are few areas where to compromise is not an option: Trinity, salvation, Jesus' bodily resurrection and others.


I agree with Benjamin's statement here. But I wanna probe this, at no detriment to Benjamin, I trust, but just using his comment as a springboard.

Does anyone get the feeling that the difference between the certain things we call heresy, the things we call false teaching, and the things we call "merely error" is merely a product of the time in which these errors, false teachings, and heresies arose? That is to say, are doctrines like the Trinity, virgin birth, Jesus' bodily resurrection considered more 'essential' to the faith because these were the issues the Fathers were dealing with the early centuries of the church? Would other doctrines that we would call "errors" like the sovereignty of God in salvation (not Arminianism), a biblical philosophy of ministry (not the EC, Seeker, or Purpose-Driven Model), or a biblical ecclesiology and eschatology have been the 'essentials' if those had come up for Iranaeus, Eusibeus, Chrysostom and others?

I'm not saying that we should leave our churches over any doctrinal disagreement. I'm also not saying that we should do nothing to resolve those differences. I'm just wondering why the Trinity is more important that God's sovereignty in salvation, for example. Again, not downplaying the importance of the Trinity, just lamenting the seeming unimportance with which we have treated the Calvinist-Arminian debate. We reject Pelagianism as heresy. Is that because it was Augustine and Pelagius in the 400s and not Calvin and Arminius in the 15 and 1600s?

As this may be a bit off topic, feel free to ignore me.

Daryl said...

Jackw,

If I may...

I agree coming forward, altar call style sounds wierd, but is there anything inherently wrong in coming forward to declare your intention to become a member?

I don't see it.

Further, if it is not inherently wrong, are you not then at risk of being in sin by avoiding a commitment to the church that serves you, by being to proud to submit to their way of doing things like this?

You said you know what they're after but that the wording bugs you. Who are you, a non-member, to quibble over their wording of something which, by your own admission, you understand and have no substantial issue with?

I realize I don't know you or the church you frequent, but from what you've written, it sounds like your looking for a reason not to commit yourself. I suggest that if you can't commit, go somewhere you can, don't enjoy the benefits of the church while avoiding the responsibilities.

Tim Bertolet said...

Thanks, Cent, the phrase "churches under heaven are subject to mixture and error" was just a great reminder to me for personal humility about one's own church. This was beautifully balanced with a reminder that there are 'churches' that aren't really church. We can be both humble and acknowledge there are places where the gospel is at stake.

This was a great post. I think we particularly need to be reminded that all churches that are 'pure' in this life have a mixture of error so far as we are not in the eschatological state. It reminded me of something I read in Richard Muller's Post-Reformational Reformed Dogmatics where the Reformed scholastics with respect even to our theology differentiated the categories of theologia viatorum (theology of pilgrims) that will always be mixed with error because of sin and in heaven a theologia beatorum, when we are glorified in heaven and the purest church is the pure church.

Daryl said...

Mike,

Are you saying we're going soft? And have been for quite some time?

Or are you suggesting that perhaps the church started to harshly and needed softening?

I understand that historically Arminianism was considered a Calvinist error rather than an out-and-out heresy. Have the various ways of thinking spawned by Arminianism become heretical? I think probably.

It's a great question you ask, one that needs to be answered by church leaders everywhere.

stratagem said...

Daryl: I was only answering the actual question that Cent asked, not the one he probably meant to ask:

But the question is only this: at what point do we seek to be obedient to God's word in spite of human mixture and error rather than seeking our church to be immediately a perfect and infallible place where nothing bad ever happens?

Obviously, since human error is with us in every situation, we should seek to be obedient to God's word in every situation. Put another way, can you point out a situation where we shouldn't be obedient to it? That's what I meant.

Daryl said...

Stratgem,

I should have read the question and your answer more closely. Sorry about that.

Reading it again, it sure looks like a rhetorical question designed to get us all to seriously question our motives when we think we ought to leave.

philness said...

Who would have thought as a young Christian growing in the Lord that sin affected even the church. Just when you thought you had a grip on sin in the world you discover sin in the church. What a let down to the young child in the Lord. (We had better be explaining this to our young'ens). Truly sin has no boundaries and fighting with this fact is where we all are at right now. Come soon Lord Jesus!!!

Mike Riccardi said...

Daryl,

Good question. I was suggesting that maybe we've gone soft... not the other way around.

It just seems to me that if the Calvinist-Arminian thing happened at the time of the church fathers, that'd be in the council records too. I mean really. We're not totally depraved? We have the ability to realize we're wrong? We can resist God's call? We just have to accept the gift? The atonement is unlimited in extent but limited in effect, and so doesn't actually atone? To me, this is as ridiculous as saying the Trinity is bogus and Jesus wasn't really born of a virgin.

I'm very non-dogmatic about this because people smarter and of greater integrity than me have said otherwise, especially Phil, for whom I have gobs of respect. But I wonder what he and others think about this notion that we've exalted earlier doctrines to 'essential' status simply because 'they've always been wrong,' and left others to 'non-essential' status cuz they've only been wrong for a little while.

DH (DumbHusband) said...

A pastor of mine once said that when conidering a job change and move you need to consider first if God wants you leave the church you are in. I thought that was a bit much. There are good churches just about everywhere you move, right?

Now, years later and a couple of job moves gone by I'm seeing the wisdom in that advice. It's hard to find a "good" church (not perfect). We just left a church because the pastor was preaching that you "don't need to accept Jesus as Lord" to be saved and "repentance is not necessary" to be saved. I think that's a good reason to leave... however we are now looking at an hour drive each way in order to attend a "good" church. If you find a good one, hang in there.

LadyAnn said...

If you will endulge me and allow my to add my comment. I am not a great philosopher or thinker of ideas. Instead, I see things rather simply.

To me, I see this as a call to find a local church to be involved with. Just because there is error in that church does not mean I should "hop" around to the next church. Instead, I should stay fixed on Jesus until such time as it is clear that the local church that I have been led to is no longer a church of Christ.

If I mad at someone, or someone doesn't like what I've said or done doesn't matter. What is important is whether or not Christ is in that church.

JackW said...

Thanks, daryl. I've been committed to this church for six years by serving and teaching in it. I'm not looking for benefits from it, nor do I have a desire to vote for anything which seem to be the only thing I can't do in it.

Alter calls are just another part of the churchianity that has no biblical basis and which I feel no obligation to participate in.

Paul said...

DH said...
"We just left a church because the pastor was preaching that you "don't need to accept Jesus as Lord" to be saved and "repentance is not necessary" to be saved. I think that's a good reason to leave..."

I don't think you left a church; I think you walked out of a building.

Daryl said...

Jackw,

"Alter calls are just another part of the churchianity that has no biblical basis and which I feel no obligation to participate in."

Perhaps I misunderstood. I thought you said you would go forward in and "altar call-like fashion".

Again, is that style of affirming membership labelled as wrong in the Bible? Is serving without submission to the leadership really serving?

You don't need to reply to this, but I still don't get it.

Daryl said...

Mike,

I figured that was what you meant.

I've often wondered about the Calvinist/Arminian thing myself.
I find it interesting that among non-believers and professing-non-calvinist believers alike, Calvinism seems to arouse very volatile reactions, much more even than how a non-believer reacts to the typical non-Calvinist "gospel". A case might even be made that it's not our need to "accept Jesus" that makes people mad but God's freedom so elect who he will and leave the rest to their own devices that makes them mad.

kschaub said...

Cent, thanks for working through this part of the LBCF. And you're right, a few years ago, I worked for the student ministry @ a church in Amarillo, TX (internship). As far as I could tell, it was the best local church within 500 miles. But of course, a few didn't think so . . . and left.

So, understanding that there will always be "some mixture of error" in a local church helps. Why the error? Calvin wrote, "Man is never sufficiently touched and affected by the awareness of his lowly state until he has compared himself with God's majesty" (Calvin's Institutes, vol. 1, 39). Praise God the church is full of saved sinners . . . and their minds are being renewed! If it weren't like that, it would be much worse.

stratagem said...

You know the old saying: "I once found a perfect church, but once I joined it, it wasn't perfect anymore!"

mkz said...

I feel blessed to be in a church who's pastor's sweat from the effort in holding true to the course laid out in the Word, tempered in Calvinism, and polished with layers of Bible studies, small groups, and fellowship functions. We as a local body and individuals are prone to error, but because of the constant nourishment by good teachers, from good sources, we are also prone to more easily accept correction, and understand the grace humility blesses us with.
We are in Massachusetts, embattled on all sides from our local town fathers, to the many homosexual activists groups who see us as bigots. We also are constantly criticized by many local churches who have abandoned sound doctrine, for our lack of compassion and conformity where society is concerned.
Our pastor, God bless him, is not shy and urges us to bring attention to anything we may have a question about concerning our church body, so we as a group can study the possible issue and make a decision on it based on scripture.
From this environment, I would say that if leadership and the body is not willing to examine itself in light of a concern you may have, using the template of the Word and the wisdom of learned men, then I would consider searching out another church to join.

JackW said...

Hezekiah 3:18b "... and the bricks will search out a building to place themselves into and if later on they do not like it, they shall seek again another..."

Daryl said...

"Hezekiah 3:18b "... and the bricks will search out a building to place themselves into and if later on they do not like it, they shall seek again another...""

LOL!! Pretty much sums up Franjk's arguement doesn't it Jack?

That was perfect.

Mike Riccardi said...

LoL... that's pretty funny...

Stefan said...

Tom Chantry: Thanks for the heads up! I'll keep that in mind if I ever start chasing prooftexts in the LBCF.

Ladyann: Well put.

lordodamanor said...

Philadephia- there ain't no such place...double negative...negates the idea but really doesn't confirm the contradiction...

Really, I've been to Canaan and I can't wait....who has seated us together with Him in the Heavenlies...but in this pew you will have tribulation (TTSV, conflated edition).

We love the English, sloppy though they are; borrowers, having no language of their own. And we love double edged swords. You can butter your crumpet and cut your finger at the same time. I would have to agree with Frank Turk (Gemanic, franca- English meaning French, from a root= javelin, real straight shooter, honest, free, a postage stamp; turk- french for turk).

The second clause, as the Turk said, is not superior, nor equal to the first. It is an addendum which clarifies the unexplained intention of "mixture and error."

"The purest churches under heaven are subject to mixture and error; and some have so degenerated as (if) to become no churches of Christ, but synagogues of Satan..."
can be written: some of the purest (not quite pure) churches have become synagogues of Satan, subject as they are to mixture and error....

Error- false teaching, heresy. Peter- and Paul in his face. Ever consider Peter? Seriously? His repeated lapses into error? Ever consider that the Lord said even at the end he would be disobedient and need to be girded by another and taken where he would not (ou thelo.) Don't ya just wish your pastor was like that. What an example of what not to be in word and deed!

"Warning, warning, look out Will Robinson!" If you've ever been around hyper-Dispys you know you cannot go unless you're part of the Phillies fan base. That's why I stand on the Rock(ies). In Revelation, the seven spirits are a type of the HS, one Spirit, into which we were all baptized. And the angels, or messengers to those seven churches might well be just another name for spirits. But it is the Spirit of the Lord who walks among the lampstands which are the churches. I do not know if the divines of the '89 were looking at the composite church of Chapters 2 and 3. Or, maybe that should be compost church, full of decay. There is natural leaven in grape juice, that is what part of what causes it to purify to alcohol. The Lord said the Kingdom is like that, a mystery, leaven leavened in, somehow useful in perfecting it. He did not put the church in Israel, the old wine skin, but a new wine, full of all its corruption in a new skin, and miraculously, both are preserved. There ain't no church of Philadelphia, this side the miracle of Canaan, and I think the divines understood that.

That phrase Synagogue of Satan- what on Earth does that refer to? It appears in Revelation to be an external group, not even part of the Church. Perhaps claiming church affiliation, but it is not clear. And, there are those within that hold to similarities with them, but they are not them.

The subordinate clause begins with the "as (if)" statement, and it is clear that those churches, as corrupt as they are, are within the fold. This question that FT is asking is do we break fellowship in the face of what is the norm. (And, when I say norm, it is a slidding scale, a six+ being maybe Philadelphia or Smyrna and a one- being perhaps, Laodicea or Sardis. No zeros, no sevens.) The question as to when one leaves...to that there is no easy answer. And, that is the real point. Flippant treatment of the obligation to communion is the real problem. If the church is a disciplining body, and we are members, then authoritative accountability is a two-way street. A member cannot be passive but in being vocal he should not become a troubler, either. He should remain as long as there is a workable structure of governance. We must recognize that as with Luther there comes a point at which compromise becomes denial. At that point, the party is over.

This church thing is serious business, as Paul described it, a preparing of a bride, virginal, chaste. It is obvious then that she does not begin this way (see Peter the Vacillator). It is a jealous occupation, a jealousy, God given. The confession continues and defines membership to particular socities (local chuches) as a divine calling. It is not like being part of Beer Brauts Babes and Baseball Buddies Tailgate Association.

Stefan said...

Is that Philadelphia as in the Confession, or as in one of the churches in Revelation?

Tom Chantry said...

Exactly what do you have against the Phillies phan base? (And please, spell it right!) For my part, I boo Santa Claus every chance I get.

ALL FOR ONCE/ ONCE FOR ALL said...

Is the seeker sensitive, emergent & modern church biblical?

http://www.godtube.com/view_video.
php?viewkey=aa5912dccc5789fd515e


Does Your Church Teach Only Parts of TheTruth?

http://www.godtube.com/view_video.
php?viewkey=70c64a0154000a60e65c

VcdeChagn said...

But I wonder what he and others think about this notion that we've exalted earlier doctrines to 'essential' status simply because 'they've always been wrong,' and left others to 'non-essential' status cuz they've only been wrong for a little while.

Actually (at least for me), I am more interested in what the Bible says about something. I think the essentials are in 1 Cor 15.

Jesus only for Sin
Resurrected

Inherent in Jesus only is His deity (otherwise you believe in the wrong Jesus, and thus the wrong Gospel).

I am always interested in what hte church fathers have to say about things, but the Bible says no where that I can find that folks who subscribe to Jesus being God but don't subscribe to the particular subset of words that we use to describe him and call trinity are going to Hell. I've read everything I can put my hands on that tries to explain why you have to believe in the "trinity" (which I do, it makes more sense of the paradox than modalism or oneness pentacostalism..two flavors of the same ice cream, I suppose) to get to Heaven and nothing I've read truly makes the point biblically.

I try very hard to not go beyond the Word in what I condone or condemn.

Yes, there are things without compromise. And honestly, Arminianism appears on its face to be more of a compromise than modalism because I don't see how you can be Arminian and depend solely upon Christ for your salvation, especially when it comes to "eternal security." You can't lose what you've never earned in the first place. This is more in opposition to the Gospel in 1 Cor 15 than modalism is.

And now I'm going to get bombarded...shrug. Show me in scripture...

lordodamanor said...

Sewing,

Is that the Philadelphia confession as in the Rockies, Mountains to high to climb?

Santa came early if it Matt-errs. We win by the skin on his chinny-chinchin and he'll be homers for the Holidays.

Come on this is God's team:

Bad Call, or God's Will?, Los Angeles Times (Dave Zinn & Tom Krattenmaker)

bassicallymike said...

LODM
"It is not like being part of Beer Brauts Babes and Baseball Buddies Tailgate Association."


Do you have a biblical reference?
ROFLOL

David said...

Thanks for your post, Frank. Some weird comments today. Good thing spelling's not an essential for salvation. I think.

Actually, now that I think about it, the little monks who copied the scriptures had to get a new pen every time they wrote the Lord's name, and threw away the heavily illuminated page if they ever made a mistake. It's an idea that takes care of half-cocked commentary.

Oops. There goes blogging.

lordodamanor said...

vdc,

You should try Frank's blog (click on his name on the Pyro main page). There is an interesting discussion on MacArthur's supposed gnostic error.

From what you said it sounds like you are speaking about gnostic salvation which can be a problem whether you are Arminian or Calvinistic. Knowledge does not save and the reformed churches historically have rejected implicit faith, which is faith in an idea or doctrine, or traditions or the church and not in Christ. But this term in Christ, and the Faith are considerably different than mere knowledge or mere trusting, or mere conviction. There is a vital union with what we know. But, it is better spoken of as He who knows us.

God bless

the postmortem said...

Centuri0n,

Where's the boy with the paper hat and the sword?

Chris said...

It always boils down to "pride".

It's true that there is no church that is perfect, but I do believe that as the pastor remains humble and strives for the church to be holy and honoring to God in all things and as the congregation is humble and strives to be holy and honoring to God in all things than
when disagreements arise... we as the body of Christ can cling to 1 Peter 4:8. "Love covers a multitude of sins".

centuri0n said...

Wow. I'm almost sorry I was in meetings all day ...

VcdeChagn said...

From what you said it sounds like you are speaking about gnostic salvation which can be a problem whether you are Arminian or Calvinistic. Knowledge does not save and the reformed churches historically have rejected implicit faith, which is faith in an idea or doctrine, or traditions or the church and not in Christ. But this term in Christ, and the Faith are considerably different than mere knowledge or mere trusting, or mere conviction. There is a vital union with what we know. But, it is better spoken of as He who knows us.

That wasn't what I meant at all. I simply was responding to Mike R's assertion that things we consider essential come from the church father's rather than from the Bible.

I was trying to make a point that many times (including on this blog) how we view the sufficiency of scripture for knowledge or the sufficiency of Christ for justification seem to be indicative of a person's status in the eyes of God.

I just believe that a person's views on eternal security may be a better "litmus test" for that, based on the Gospel in 1 Cor 15 than the belief in the "trinity."

Since these were both examples used by Mike R, I used them in my illustration.

If I have misunderstood what you are saying, my apologies in advance.

David said...

Donatism is bad.

That sums it up, and it would be a good thing for us to remember.

centuri0n said...

OK -- I'm puttering around the bookstore tonight listening to Mark Dever rail on about how fantastic the local church is, and I'm sort of pawing through the meta here. And your good luck is that Dan and Phil are both sort of tied up this week so this may be the topic of the rest of the week.

I know many of you have just checked out, so the rest of you, with a decent passion for God's plan for the life of Christians, will enjoy the balance of the week.

Anyway, somebody here said that I have wrongly de-emphasize the gray text in my post. Actually, what I did was emphasize that it's a paranthentical phrase, which means it's not the main idea but a sidebar -- a sort of mention of something of interest but not the central idea.

And in that, we have to receive it as a side issue and not a central issue which plagues the life of the Christian.

Look: on my blog, I'm having tea with a fellow* about the apostasy of the emerging church, so I get it -- some churches, or maybe "many" churches are going off the shoulder and into the guard rail. I get it. But my personal experience is that it's not so much that many churches are really in the theological tar pit: it's that people have no idea what perseverance, mercy and frankly love looks like in a church setting.

Some have so degenerated as to become no churches of Christ, but synagogues of Satan. Some -- not all. Some are just mediocre -- maybe a little lazy or a little uptight, unable to really get the "together" part of gospel-consequences sorted out.

Those churches don't need -fewer- people -- they need gifts like love, joy, peace, patience and not just "discernment" or "dour-faced sobriety". Maybe you should ask God for those gifts and see if you can edify somebody rather than complain that the take-out window at your local church only serves cold sandwiches and they are too slow.

I'll try to read the rest of the meta and get back to you on these other comments.

_________________________
*hey -- if I said it any other way, I'd take flack for being unkind, so give it a rest.

centuri0n said...

QUESTION:
_________

Why is the Trinity a mandatory doctrine when the word "trinity" or its Greek cognates cannot be found in the Bible?

__________

ANSWER:
__________

Because this is who God is, folks. God does not appear to us in manifestations which are sort of metaphors or symbols of Himself. God's not sending puppets into the world on His behalf.

God is the Father who created all things and sustains all things, and who ordained all things; and God is also the Son who was always with the Father and through whom all things were made, who out of obedience was made in the form of a servant as a man and died accursed on a cross; and God is the Helper sent by the Son and the Father who teaches men all things about the Son and empowers the church to proclaim the Gospel.

God is all these things, and if we deny these things we deny who He is.

If you want to scoff at the word "Trinity", that's your problem. However, you have to at least explain what you mean when you start talking about God the way the Bible does -- and if you want to invent new words to do it, be careful that you aren't inventing new meanings along side those words.

Fair enough?

Sacchiel said...

With my Jehovah's Witness background I know a lot about error, thanks!

Mike Riccardi said...

Hey... Just to clarify some things...

I simply was responding to Mike R's assertion that things we consider essential come from the church father's rather than from the Bible.

I don't know if I'd call it an assertion. :o) Really, I was just asking what you guys thought about that. There really wasn't a critique there; more of just a general curiosity.

I was trying to make a point that many times (including on this blog) how we view the sufficiency of scripture for knowledge or the sufficiency of Christ for justification seem to be indicative of a person's status in the eyes of God.

I'm right here with vdc on this one. I think view of Scripture is a good correlational indicator of maturity. So let me say that I wasn't saying we should get our authority for essential based on the fathers. In fact, that was the very idea I was trying to call into question.

I just believe that a person's views on eternal security may be a better "litmus test" for that, based on the Gospel in 1 Cor 15 than the belief in the "trinity."

This is something similar to what I was thinking. I wouldn't have said "better." I would have said that they were at least equal. However, we view the Arminian gospel as merely an 'error,' while we view aberrations of the Trinity as heresy.

So the question returns: Do you guys think that the reason this is so is because the Trinity was debated in the 1st and 2nd centuries and the Calvinist-Arminian issue was debated in the 17th? I kinda get this impression, and wonder what folks are thinking.

lordodamanor said...

vdc, Mike R.

Sorry, for misunderstandings. If you want, I have posted at my blog a response. It as usual is huge. I know...but you must forgive me, its a rule.

http://treasuresoldandnew.blogspot.com/

"So the question returns: Do you guys think that the reason this is so is because the Trinity was debated in the 1st and 2nd centuries and the Calvinist-Arminian issue was debated in the 17th? I kinda get this impression, and wonder what folks are thinking."

But, I'll answer this one here. No. These issues are all over the NT, just not in a later debate form, and many of these 17th Century controversies were alive in the 1st, 2nd or 3rd. I think that you may be seeing the overshadowing of certain controversies by others that were formulated into creedal statements. As a matter of centrality of focus, the inerrancy controversy overshadowed the re-emergence of Cavinism for years, but it would be an anachronism to speak of the revitalized interest in Calvinism and the DoG as following it. They were happening simultaneously as many of the controversies in the NT were and those which follow latter. And, they, were many times rehashings or extension on the same themes. It all depends on where you are and what time it is, IMHO.

centuri0n said...

I really enjoy comments from people who haven't actually read all the posts in this series.

centuri0n said...

And before I go and get ready for work, the quip being sort of confessionalized here about whether or not knowing who Jesus is and whether or not the Scripture cannot be broken is "indicative of a person's status in the eyes of God" needs to be fine-tuned a little more, to say the least.

If someone thinks Scripture is only as reliable as a comic book for receiving what God hath said, and if someone thinks Jesus was a vegetarian pacifist who only died because he was into non-violent revolution, that person is frankly wrong and going to hell. Why -- because his theology doesn't save him? No: because rather than repenting of sin and turning to God he is denigrating God's word to us which calls us to repentance based on the sufficiency of the death Christ died for the sins of men -- a death we ought to have died which He took for us.

Of course theology doesn't save us: but theology is what describes what we are putting our faith in. Your theology is the window into your faith -- and if you look in there and you don't see what Paul and Peter and James the rest of those guys said you ought to see, you're need to clean house.

Tom Chantry said...

And your good luck is that Dan and Phil are both sort of tied up this week so this may be the topic of the rest of the week.


Ecclesiolopalooza! WooHoo!

Johnny Dialectic said...

"If someone thinks Scripture is only as reliable as a comic book for receiving what God hath said, and if someone thinks Jesus was a vegetarian pacifist who only died because he was into non-violent revolution, that person is frankly wrong and going to hell."

When did you get so wishy washy, Frank? Quit hedging.

Of course, between the comic book guy and John MacArthur there is a broad range, and figuring out who is going to hell on that line is quite dicey. But I will make a bold prediction for the benefit of several in the meta: there will be Arminians in heaven. And even some Dispensationalists.

Drew said...

While we must be dedicated to guarding our doctrine against error and conducting church discipline, we must realize that our churches are flawed.

I think you are right, if we combed the NT hard enough we would probably see our churches as bad enough to leave.

Certainly there is a time to leave the church, but its that time is probably a lot more rare than we think.

If we had more Christians stick it out in flawed churches . . . we might have fewer flawed churches.

Lisa of Longbourn said...

A few years ago, going through the age where it seems like most who've grown up Christian leave the church, I could finally see why. Outside of youth group and paying attention to the structure and leadership of the church, the places where members were left undisciplined or the spiritual gifts were being supressed, and then facing the human band-aid patches of programs like 40 Days of Purpose - wow! I really wanted to leave my church. But God wouldn't let me, and here is what I learned:

1. The Church is really the congregation (in fact they're basically synonyms), so leaving a church is leaving people who are saved by faith in Jesus. The Bible says not to do that. It says to love them, forgive them, and correct them gently unto repentance.
2. If everyone who sees the problems leaves, the problems will never get fixed.
3. If most of the people who see the problems leave, those staying to continue church ministry (exercising spiritual gifts, discipling, prayer, fellowship, edifying one another) are going to get awfully drained.
4. God in His providence probably has me in this place for a reason.

I believe there is a time to leave a church. When you move away, or start a new family. If you are called to ministry. If the majority of people there are heretics (in a strict sense), and staying would only cause strife.

But being a part of a church with major problems can be draining. We all need to be fed the pure milk of the word sometimes, and need fellowship with likeminded Christians. So if its available, I would recommend you visit healthy Bible studies or fellowships provided by other Christian groups, whether in your city or online or as a last resort through reading books and magazines that will encourage you.

Above all: DON'T FORGET TO SPEND TIME WITH GOD! He it is that fills, refreshes, directs and enables.

To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn