14 October 2009

Best of centuri0n: Coleco vs. NFL

by Frank Turk

[Originally posted in 2007, this seems to fit in with the open discussion about "Deep Church". Enjoy.]

We have this funny word in our Christian vocabulary that appears in our Bibles – namely "church". Webster's dictionary says this about where we get that word:
Middle English chirche, from Old English cirice, ultimately from Late Greek kyriakon, from Greek, neuter of kyriakos of the lord, from kyrios lord, master
Which, you know, is interesting because we use "church" in the translations of the Bible in English to represent the word "ecclesia", not the word "kyriakon" – that is, it is possible that we mean the same thing by saying "church" when the NT says "ecclesia", but the word "church" doesn't come from the word "ecclesia".

Now, here's what I'm not equipped to do here: I'm not equipped to criticize guys (and women) who have spent their lives studying Greek who all agree that "church" is a fine word in English for the Greek word "ecclesia". I accept that this is the word we are going to use and, frankly, ought to use.

What I'm thinking about today is what we mean by using this word.

I realize, btw, that I am on something of a year-long rant about the church, off and on. But listen: Dan's experience last week (which he posted yesterdayhere) is not just sort of disappointing: it's down-right appalling. It's like getting a coleco hand-held football game when you thought you bought tickets to see [insert your football team here to protect the meta from frivolous sports talk] – not only did you get cheated out of what would have been worth coming to, you also have to do all the work yourself now after investing all that time and cash.

The over-arching theme of this series, btw, is that the believer needs the church. You need it. Part of that, of course, is that it needs you, and I have beaten that almost to death. But I was reminded of this theme this weekend as I listened to Dr. MacArthur preach broadly and enthusiastically at DGM's national conference on the theme "Stand", meaning a call to the perseverance of the saints.

Part of "Standing" in the faith is, as the Spurgeon piece sketched out for us this week, not acting like the church is a Baskin Robbins of possibilities – that is, it's not about flavors or "style", and if you get hung up on "style" or flavor (even if it's to go back to some allegedly-ancient style which came into being and went out of being years before your grandparents where born), you're really not about what the church is for.

Let me context this for you – with Scripture, so those of you who don't recognize it will be able to follow me when I resort to God's word. At the end of his life, from a prison cell, probably through some kind of amanuensis, Paul wrote to his disciple Timothy a letter which we receive in Scripture as 2 Timothy. So this letter, whatever else we want to make of it, is Paul's last word to a young man he loved dearly and had discipled in the faith apparently from the start of the young man's faith.

Paul knew Timothy's family – his mother and grandmother, who were themselves Jewish women who had accepted Christ. And if we read Timothy at all, Paul has the highest confidence and love for Timothy – like Titus, Timothy is called Paul's "true son" in the faith.

And in that, Paul's last words to Timothy are important to us as we have to believe that he wrote these things as a farewell.

But as Paul writes, we find some very troubling things in his words. All of Asia, he says, has forsaken him for false teachers; Demas has decided that the world looks pretty good and the Gospel not so much. So in that environment, you'd think Paul would give Timothy the advice any wise man would give: run away from the bad guys and go find someplace else to start a new church – because we have to run away from false teachers, and a church with false teachers is a church where it is necessary to leave.

You'd think.

Instead, Paul says this – if the ESV can be considered Scripture:

do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.
And again he says this:
Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: "The Lord knows those who are his," and, "Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity."

Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.

So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
And again this:
You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and [they] will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
Even as he is ready to be "poured out as a drink offering", as he says himself, Paul calls Timothy to stand firm in the truth and preach and teach what is right in spite of fads and the tastes of men.

See: Paul didn't tell Timothy, "dude, my method landed me in jail, so you have to try something different. Check with Demas as he has found a nice job in the world -- obviously he knows something I don't." He told Timothy to not change and not adapt and not go his own way, but instead to "endure suffering" and "continue in what you have learned" and "depart from iniquity" and so on -- but not to leave the church.

This goes back to my Coleco vs. NFL analogy -- Paul isn't telling Timothy, "Son, just work on your passing game on that little hand-held, because that's what real football looks like. Nobody has to get hurt, right?" Paul is telling Timothy, "Son, I have taken real hits on the field of play, and you are going to take real hits on the field of play. But you are called out not to be a fan or even a mascot: you are called out to play in the majors. And when you play in the majors, you play until the game is over."

Here's why I bring it up: it's because we are not called out of the church to preach the Gospel – we are called out of the world and into the "ecclesia" to preach the Gospel. Standing firm for the truth is standing where? Whatever "ecclesia" means, and whatever "church" is supposed to mean in its place in English, it is something we are called into in order that we may demonstrate who God is and what He has done.

And this is where the football analogy really gets some legs. We're certainly not called out to play a little metaphorical LED version of the game where there's not even a real ball or real players, yes? If we're "ecclesia", I guess we can also admit that we're not just called to sit on the couch and watch the players on our really cool HDTV home theater unit -- we're not called out to be viewers from a distance, subject to blackouts when the stadium doesn't sell out -- because sitting on the couch doesn't qualify as "out". But let me suggest that we're also not just called out to be season-ticket holders who show up at every home-game, or true fanatics that have a ticket and a seat at every pre-season, regular-season and post-season -- because these people just come to the game no matter how personally they take it when their team loses.

We are called out to play on the team and be down on the field.

You think about that, and we'll come back to it.







112 comments:

Sir Brass said...

I think I get what you're talking about here. You're saying that we're NOT called to "find a place that suits your tastes," (aka "church hopping" or "church shopping") but to be faithful to the congregation in which God has placed us.

Right?

Noting certain exceptions (which don't make the rule) are notwithstanding, I completely agree (if I have understood this right).

Also, something you said earlier really sparked a chord in me when you said that we need the church. From my own experiences I cannot begin to overemphasize how TRUE this is. If, in the providence of God, I had to move away (and thus leave the fellowship to which I belong) from where I live now, it would be much like cutting out a part of myself. Not to give a Romish view of the church body, but that is how important the local body of which I am a part has come to mean to me. A refuge in the storm of life would be a good illustrative phrase to describe my thoughts on my local body. I could go on, but then I'd be restating (in similar length) what you just said.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Great post. In a way it's actually kind of sad that such a post is needed. It speaks to the state of what passes for Christianity for a lot of people.

There are two distinct, but closely related issues here. One, is what Centuri0n addresses. A Christian needs to attend church and worship God in church. Many professing Christians apparently are skeptical (as determined by behavior) of such counsel. Two, to become a member of a church that asks for a membership commitment from committed Christians. There are increasing numbers of Christians, particularly pastors, who don't think church membership should be asked of people. They figure that if you're attending church, but not necessarily a member of any church, then you're an NFL player in good standing.

Frank Turk said...

Hey Brass --

Complete "yes" to paragraph #1. No qualifiers.

To the last paragraph, it's not "Romish" to say you love and honor the local church. It's Christian. It's God's household; it's God's people; it's where God calls us to in this age and world.

Being afraid to say "I love the church" because one is afraid of sounding "Romish" is, well, not a very good excuse.

Frank Turk said...

TUAD:

It's funny that there are people who think that somehow the body can be only one member, and not that God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.

{sigh}

VcdeChagn said...

TUAD:

Oh noes! I belong to a church where #1 is in full effect but #2 is not (no membership rolls).

What do I do now!!!

Just kidding :)

Thanks for the reminder Frank. This article (plus the other ones like it) two years ago is why I'm still in the same church for the past 9 years.

Zaphon said...

Coleco....remember playing Zaxxon on one of those?? lol.

But the latest trend in my church has been that the pasotrs are dressing down, i.e. not wearing tie and suit because they want to "reach the next generation". It's not just this trend but others like it that make me cringe and say "ohhh, maann!" WHY ME???

Cent, are you saying I GOTTA endure these new evangelical seekerly sensitive fads in my church if I'm going to be faithful to Christ???

I know, I know...IF Jesus videos,CCM, seeker strategies etc, are the WORST I have to deal with, then maybe it's just MY problem...but sometimes I just could wish things were different.

David Rudd said...

Well...
I plunked down way too much cash this weekend to drive across the state and watch my Lions play. I would have been better off to stay home and play the coleco handheld game my wife gave me for my birthday.

Seriously, Frank, these posts are where you are in your sweet spot. This one is spot on. Well done!

stratagem said...

So in that environment, you'd think Paul would give Timothy the advice any wise man would give: run away from the bad guys and go find someplace else to start a new church – because we have to run away from false teachers, and a church with false teachers is a church where it is necessary to leave. You'd think..

All well and good for those good guys who have the podium in the ecclesia where the bad guys are teaching. But surely you're not implying that any good guys who are not in a position to teach in the ecclesia are obligated to stay there, if bad guys are in charge and teaching error? In other words, you wouldn't advise a good guy to stay in the ecclesia at Rob Bell's "church"? Correct?

Daryl said...

Frank,

These posts are really helpful.

That NFL analogy fits really well with Paul's body analogy as well. I mean, does my foot stop working as a foot because my hand can't catch?
Or, would an offensive lineman be justified in lets his man through just because the wide reciever keeps dropping the ball?

Or, am I justified in quitting teaching Sunday School or taking time to get to know others in the church because the pastor doesn't always get it right?

Or, or ,or...

This is a great reminder to stay committed to that to which we've been committed.

olan strickland said...

So in that environment, you'd think Paul would give Timothy the advice any wise man would give: run away from the bad guys and go find someplace else to start a new church – because we have to run away from false teachers, and a church with false teachers is a church where it is necessary to leave.

Frank, I am not through reading Deep Church yet but while I was reading it I thought about what appeared to me to be an abandonment of churches that need someone to come in and do the hard work of returning them to Biblical foundations rather than going off somewhere and starting a new church. I am not against starting new churches but what about those that need reformation?

There are many difficulties in turning a wayward church around - I know all too well! However, it is very rewarding and exciting (even in the midst of all the trouble) as the Lord brings the power of His Word to bear on the problems and prunes His vine so that it may bear fruit.

Frank Turk said...

Strategem:

I'm still looking for that verse that says to flee churches where the pastor is teaching error.

Because there are so many people who make your objection, I am sure it must be there someplace. I am sure Luther cited it, or Calvin. Because this objection comes up every time we talk about this in my blogging, I am categorically certain of it -- because all these churchless lovers of truth cannot be wrong.

Right? So show me the verses.

Or better yet: D-Blog time.

Here's the thesis I will gladly defend in the hope of being proven wrong by someone of the right right-mindedness:

The New Testament never once tells us that the right and best course of action to take when a pastor teaches error is to leave the local church, therefore leaving your local church is fraudulent faithfulness.

I'd ease the D-Blog rules for anyone who is capable of reproaching this so that I would have a word limit for both Q&A and my adversary would have no word limit for Answers and a 500-word limit for questions. I'd be finished after 10 questions max, but my adversary could have 25 or 30 if he wanted them.

I think that when that exchange was finished, the advocates of "when can I leave me church" would have to re-assess their enthusiasm for the objection "yeah, but my pastor teaches lousy doctrine."

Open call for takers, but I put the right of first refusal to Strategem because he was the first one to go there today.

[typos fixed]

Frank Turk said...

BTW, for those who like strategem's objection, isn't it odd that until the final decrees of the Council of Trent the men calling for reform were not calling for all people to abandon Rome and the Pope?

The tone and attitude of the Augsburg Confession is frankly far more open-handed than the 39 Articles or the Belgic Confession -- because the Protestors had not yet been anathematized by the Pontiff and his Bishops.

There's a lesson there for those allegedly calling for a modern reformation. I wonder what it is?

stratagem said...

Frank
I will open it up for others to debate you. I find your arguments here to be weak arguments of omission. The Bible never once tells us not to beat our wives, either, but it's implied by plenty of higher-level dictums about loving them, and so on. Likewise, I read very strongly into Jude the implication that false teachers are not to be tolerated - and staying under their teaching is toleration to an extreme degree in my view (not yours, but I can live with disagreeing with you).
The weakness of your argument can be demonstrated rather easily by laying down the challenge to you to produce Bibley teachings telling us that non-Elders are commanded to stay under the teaching of false teachers. Can you do that? No. But of course my challenge there is just as flawed as your is from a logical standpoint, since one can't prove a negative.
Have a good day.

stratagem said...

PS: Isn't it odd that if the Reformers had followed your view of things, we'd still all be under the Pope?

SandMan said...

Frank, I am a relative stranger here, so I feel I should preface my comment. I am not trolling, dissenting, no hidden agenda, etc.

I have an honest question(s). Are you saying (or saying that the Bible teaches) that we should stay (i.e. dance with the one that brung ya), in a church regardless of the error(s)? Forgive me if I am being dull and have missed the point. On the chance that I am reading you loud and clear, a follow-up question. How would (or would) II Corinthians 6:14-18 apply to this issue? Thank you for your kind indulgence. I have to admit I have never read the Augsburg Confession, 39 Articles, or the Belgic Confession.

SandMan said...

Thought I'd save everyone from looking it up:

II Cor. 6:14-18

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you[b] are the temple of the living God. As God has said:


“ I will dwell in them
And walk among them.
I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.”


17 Therefore
Come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you.”
18 “ I will be a Father to you,
And you shall be My sons and daughters,
Says the LORD Almighty.”

VcdeChagn said...

S: Isn't it odd that if the Reformers had followed your view of things, we'd still all be under the Pope?

Frank can speak for himself, but I didn't read what he said. He said that because the Protestors had not yet been anathematized by the Pontiff and his Bishops.

In other words (as Frank pointed out two years ago in the comments when presented the same thing) the church left righteousness and left THEM, not vice versa. (I think that's how he put it, don't have time to look it up now. If I'm wrong sue me for 100x what you paid to read this ;) ).

By the way, the comments section of the local church tagged posts by Frank have most of this stuff hashed out already.

VcdeChagn said...

Frank can speak for himself, but I didn't read what he said.

But I didn't read THAT into what he said. DOH.

Exblogitory said...

If I may interject here:) I believe Frank to be savvy enough that he has defined what the church IS. What if I am born into a cult and become a member at a young age and then become born again later on? Can people AND leaders who embrace a false gospel, deny the authority & infallibility of the scriptures, deny the trinity & hypostatic union of Christ, and many other cardinal doctrines, can they really be considered the "church"? Are they really people called out of darkness to proclaim God's excellencies?

This really needs to be defined before anyone tells anyone else, "stay in your church!" OR "leave your church!" Because someone may not know whether they are members of what constitutes the "church".

stratagem said...

Vc: You mean the RCC physically left the reformers behind? Or merely left the truth?
If the latter, then the reformers would be in exactly the same place as the believer today who finds himself in a ecclesia that has left the truth via false teachers. The false teachers left us, not vice-versa. So again, a weak argument, if that's what Frank is saying.

I am not surprised that this has been hashed out before. I "get" that Frank feels sorry for the local church leaders who often find themselves locked in a battle with circus churches. I get that he takes extreme positions because of his feelings in that regard. But he's essentially saying that leaving a local church that has been overtaken at the top by false teachers, is a sin. And that's not in the Bible that I'm aware of.

I'm not saying either, by the way, that bailing is the first thing we should do when false teachers show up! I'm saying that once the Elders of the church have shown that they either cannot recognize false teaching, or won't do anything about it, that's the time you need to recognize the situation for what it is (a false church, not just a false teacher), and leave. I also "get" that Frank probably doesn't agree with me.

Frank Turk said...

Strategem:

The Reformers did follow my line of reasoning, and when they were anathematized, they left.

My line of reasoning says that you give grace and right-minded obedience to elders and leaders until theyturn you out, and then you are free to go. The Reformers were clear but concilliatory until Trent made it clear that both they and the Gospel was not welcome among the churches in allegiance with the Pope.

Your view says that when they desecrated Wycliffe's bones, everyone was free to go. That was ugly, but it wasn't the same as anathemtizing the faith and those who hold to it.

As to argument by omission, this is exactly why the D-Blog is a perfect place to hash this out. I thin the NT not only omits leaving as a choice but affirms staying in unceratin terms, so while it also omits wife beating as something forbidden, it affirms loving your wife as your own body. You have to read the omissions in terms of the affirmations.

And by "you", I do mean all of us, but you-personally for making such a shabby argument.

Frank Turk said...

SandMan:

I just want to make sure I undersatnd how you're reading 2 Cor 6 here.

You're saying:

[1] Doctrinal error equals unbelief in the sense required by 2 Cor 6. So for example, paedobaptism makes one an unbeliever; arminianism makes one an unbeliever; post-millenialism makes one an unbeliever.

[2] There are some people alive today who have no doctrinal errors and therefore are believers in the sense required by 2 Cor 6.

[3] If you are one of those in [2], you have the obligation to leave all people who have errors in their theology because those people with errors are unbelievers in the sense required by 2 Cor 6.

And then one question: if you are wrong about this, would I be required to leave whatever church you are in right now becuase plainly: you are an unbeliever?

This is my favorite verse on this subject because it doesn't at all say what the person tendering it up thinks it says.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

VcdeChagn: "I belong to a church where #1 is in full effect but #2 is not (no membership rolls)."

Yeeeesh. This is an important topic in its own right, but could derail the thread. I've read much about the topic of church membership and its importance (or its non-importance for those who downplay church membership) and I think there's Scriptural warrant (although of an indirect implied variety) for local church membership.

Here's a link from The Gospel Coalition on this topic:

http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/resources/topic-index/a/221322

I thought this post was a stand-alone post, and was not aware that it was a part of a series of posts that argues in favor of staying in whatever church you're attending, no matter how heretical and apostate it's become.

I have no wish to debate Centuri0n, but I'd have to respectfully register my polite, but firm disagreement with this proposition.

As a rough, general hypothetical example, if I had a friend or relative who was attending a Metropolitan Church of Christ church (a gay church) or in The Episcopal Church in the New Hampshire diocese with unrepentant gay bishop V. Gene Robinson (this denomination also supports and funds abortions) or in a church where the pastor or pastorette holds that what happened on the Cross is "cosmic child abuse," then, out of love I would ask my friend or relative to depart from that "church" and shake the dust off their feet. And to bring as many of their friends out of that Laodicean "church" as well.

Pax.

Frank Turk said...

Exblogitory:

If anyone is reading any of my thoughts on this subject and wants to interpret them as saying, "you should stay in your Mormon assembly" or "you should stay in your JW kingdom hall" or "you should stay in your Unity cult group," then that person has a larger problem than undersatnding their obligation in Christ to be in fellowship with other believers.

99% of people "struggling" with this (and by "struggling" I mean "leaving their local church") are people leaving broadly-evangelical churches which have a generic and orthodox statement of faith but which walk that out in a very Corinthian-like manner. So there's factionalism, poor leadership, weak teaching, segmented fellowship, lousy and emotive "worship", and flimsy doctrine.

People leave churches like the church at Corinth all the time, but Paul thought Corinth was a wholly-viable church.

It's too bad nobody was there to explain all this to him.

Frank Turk said...

FWIW, I expect that nobody will want to debate this subject: only issue lectures on the subject.

To me, that signals a lack of conviction and a lack of credibility. If My position is so obviously wrong -- even if it is overstated -- anyone should be able to explain that, given an unlimited word count and the ability to ask me doirect questions which should either cause me to reconsider, cause me to recant, or cause me to embarass myself by saying something absurd.

stratagem said...

Frank - what you have written is all conjecture and interpretation, and then you accuse me of making a shabby argument. LOL. Do you think the readers here can't recognize that?

Can you come up with even one verse that clearly backs up the extreme statements you are making?
Where does the Bible mention that leaving a church before being kicked out is a sin, for instance?

It's perfectly OK for you to believe that's where the line is crossed, but I am not seeing where you are supporting that opinion very clearly with Scripture. So that's what it is at this point, opinion. Anything more solid than that to offer?

SandMan said...

Thank you for taking the time to respond.

To answer your questions:

[1] Doctrinal error equals unbelief in the sense required by 2Cor 6. So for example, paedobaptism makes one an unbeliever; arminianism makes one an unbeliever; post-millenialism makes one an unbeliever.

In response to your examples, no. However, why didn't you choose error of doctrine in Christology, or Soteriology, or Anthropology? Errors about the deity of Christ, the sufficiency of His blood sacrifice, or the sinfulness of man would make one and unbeliver.

[2] There are some people alive today who have no doctrinal errors and therefore are believers in the sense required by 2 Cor 6. Again, no. However, there are some with some doctrinal erros (as I mentioned above), and are therefore unbelievers in the sense required by 2 Cor. 6.

[3] If you are one of those in [2], you have the obligation to leave all people who have errors in their theology because those people with errors are unbelievers in the sense required by 2 Cor 6.

Not all. But some.

I would not quibble, except you stated in response to Sir Brass that we should NEVER leave. NO qualifiers. I think that II Corinthians 6:14-18 requires SOME qualifiers. Are they, or aren't they TRUE believers?

stratagem said...

PS: It should be obvious that the burden of proof is on you, since you are making the accusation of sin against those who have left churches that have delved headlong into error about fundamental doctrines. So I think you need to back this up with some clear Scripture. If you can - but you probably can't.

SandMan said...

***doctrinal errors... not erros. If you know your Greek, then this is a bad typo.*** sorry.

CR said...

Frank: What I'm thinking about today is what we mean by using this word.

And that is the the $64,000 question. I think when most people use it today, it's used as a collective noun for Christians. And I don't believe that is the proper use.

I think the important thing is to find out how it is used in Scripture. The word itself does mean called out ones. But how is it used in Scripture? The terms that usually used in Scripture carry a local meaning (there are exceptions). Paul in the 16th chapter of Romans makes a reference to the church that meets in their Priscilla's house. It's a local gathering. Then he addresses in his epistles to the the church of God which is in Corinth for example. He says to the churches of Galatia. He doesn't write to the church of Galatia or the church of Rome. He wasn't thinking of one unit divided into local numbers, he was thinking of the local units. I think if we go through our Bible we will find that is speaking of the generally apostolic way of handling this word.

But we do have to notice that there are two or three cases where the word church is used rather than churches. One is in Acts 9 I think. It obviously refers to the members of the church in Jerusalem who have been scattered abroad because of persecution. So, I don't believe it is being used as the idea of the church distinct from the churches.

Another use Cor 12. He uses church. We have the use of the church in the singular, not the plural. In passages to the Ephesians (end of Eph 1, Eph 3, Eph 5), Paul is using the church as not including those on earth but those that are in Heaven (which I find fascinating). In the Bible, generally speaking, the term is used in the plural. The writers are thinking of individual churches. But in a few instances, there is a larger and bigger conception of the term church.

Different pictures and illustrations are used to teach the doctrine of the church. It's depicted as a body. Another illustration is the church as a temple or building. Paul talks about the church being built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. It's also referred to as the bride of Christ. Another illustration used is that of an empire. (Eph 2 - that we are fellow citizens of the household of God). All of these instances where the church is used in the singular has a reality of the church as something spiritual and invisible.

But at the same time the church is also visible and can be seen externally. It can described as something that can be seen in Corinth or Rome. So the church is invisible but can be manifested visibly. Put it all together, I think we can say this. The church is something spiritual and invisible.

All that to say this, we cannot be a Christian without being a member of the church - invisible and spiritual. And that it is possible to be a member of the invisible church and not be a member of the visible church. We should be members of the visible church. And on the other side, it is possible to be a member of the visible church and not be a member of the invisible and spiritual church.

The general picture in the NT of what is meant by the church is a local gathering of saints where presence and the Lordship of Christ is recognized. That's the usual meaning of church given in the NT. But over and above that, all those in the local manifestations of the church who are truly born again and spiritual people are also members of this unseen spiritual church.

David Rudd said...

Frank,
I'd take you up on your debate...

if I didn't think you were spot on!

While we may make our arguments in different ways, I have a hard time reconciling "leaving" church with the overwhelming emphasis of the NT on oneness, unity, etc.

I do think that many (not all) use the "error in teaching" as a way to justify doing something they know to be wrong, but still want to do because their preferences are not being heeded or their "needs" are not being met.

Secondarily, I have a hard time hearing anyone argue for the "right" to leave a church. Really?

stratagem said...

David
But as with Frank, what you are stating is opinion, not Scripture.

The score as I see it at this point, is:

Frank: Has stated that it's a sin to leave a church before being kicked out. He can't produce any clear Scripture to support this, but can only say that the Scripture doesn't tell us that we should leave, either. True enough.

Me: Has stated that it's not a sin to leave a church once the leadership has departed from sound doctrine on fundamental elements of the Christian faith. I can't produce any Scripture that supports what I'm saying either, I can only show that the Bible doesn't forbid us from leaving, and therefore maybe we are supposed to prayerfully exercise our judgement.

So far, I'd call it a draw, with the burden of proof on the one who is accusing sin.

My view is that Frank surveys the culture here and concludes rightly that too many people leave churches for too silly a reason. Then, instead of saying the sensible thing "hey, stop leaving churches lightly or for silly reasons" he makes the error of accusing people of sin if they do leave for any reason.

There are churches that have spiritually-abusive leadership, but their doctrinal statement is perfect; their practices are not. They might be perfectly willing to have you stay and be abused. And there might be someone who is telling you that you need to submit to leadership, and so as long as you do and continue to be abused, you are not likely to be kicked out. So I have a problem with Frank's simplistic, all-encompassing statement that is also unsupported by Scripture.

Sorry about that, but I do.

bp said...

Interesting topic. Here's a real life example:

Around 6 yrs ago, we were serving in a local church where we were members. Hubby and I leading a small group in our home on evangelism, I was small group leading a class in Wed night Awana. My husband was a former elder here (side note: he has since left the church and has abandoned the faith, but this is wholy another topic).

Anyway, our pastor was very into the Purpose Driven Church and visiting Saddleback, etc. He was incorporating the 40 days of purpose into the Church and it was suggested (but not mandatory) that all small groups stop what they were teaching to do the 40 days of Purpose, to get the whole church on the same track. My husband and I chose not to do it. People asked why. We explained why.

One day I got a call from the Pastor (day before the last day of Awana). It was a conference call with all elders present. They asked me to step down from teaching in Awana because I was causing disunity in the body.

We wrestled with whether to stay or leave. The youth pastor pleaded with us to maintain the unity of the body and stay, but my husband tried to make contact with the head pastor and express his concerns, but he didn't respond to anything, so we ended up leaving. And incidentally, the vast majority of the members ended up doing the same for various similar reasons (does "various similar" go together?)

bp said...

All that to say: Are you saying that it was a sin to leave, Frank?

David said...

Here's a verse:

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.
(1 Corinthians 1:10 ESV)

It's kinda backed up by the context, if anybody really wants to check.

VcdeChagn said...

You mean the RCC physically left the reformers behind? Or merely left the truth?

No, they kicked them out (anathematized).

Here is what I think Frank is trying to say...but much more poorly written (however, it's how I understand it so there it is).

If your church is teaching error, try to fix it.

If you try to fix it and you stick by your guns, the church will either be fixed or won't really be a church anymore, thus you won't be leaving the part of the Lord's body where you've been assigned.

Of course, you then have to determine what is worth making a stink about (the Gospel) :).

I wish I could find the comment where Frank said basically that, but when I click the local church tag I only go back to this year's posts and I need the one from Oct 2007 or thereabouts. I might try to find it in Google....if I do, I'll post it here.

Zaphon said...

What of the doctrine of separation based on Romans 16:17-18?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Well, here's a recent resignation letter from 10 of the 12 members of the vestry leadership team at Christ Episcopal Church.

Was it a sin that they resigned?

Photomender said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
VcdeChagn said...

Found it!

The end of Mt 18 is to press to resolution, and that resolution is either reconciliation or the judgment of the local body. If the body behaves conspiratorially to prevent you from pressing the truth in love, it has made its judgment -- and revealed what kind of body it is. I think the door is open then -- if you have behaved in love and not in retaliation.

http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2007/10/why-i-left.html

Whew...Read Franks long reply about halfway down the comments..I think he addresses a lot of the questions...

Chad V. said...

oops, sorry about that, posted under the wrong account.

Frank

I'm still waiting for you to exegete any verse that tells Christians the must stay under the preaching of rank heretics until they are effectually kicked out. You're application of the cited texts in your post seems to miss the point that the instruction was about how pastors are to handle their flocks even though they stray into error.

Strat

I think you're spot on. Further more I would add that staying under the preaching of rank heresy or serious doctrinal error violates many of the scripture's commands about maintaining the purity of the faith.

David Rudd said...

bp,

if i can be frank with you. (not Frank, the world already has enough of him)

i would say this. it sounds like this fracture would have happened eventually, but the precipitating incident was a refusal to submit to the church leadership.

now, i'm not a huge fan of the purpose driven life. i think there are some questionable ideas, and even a few things that i'd want to avoid talking about. however, there are also some pretty helpful ideas included that are worth discussing in a small group.

BUT...

it's not heresy. it just isn't.

and if the pastor asks the church to unify around this, why not submit to that direction and privately discuss whether or not you can do some corrective teaching in your group on certain points.

a flat-out refusal to cooperate puts the church leadership in a very awkward situation.

of course, i'm sure there is a lot more to the story and my response certainly oversimplifies the situation. but, i do think your story makes Frank's point.

is the "purpose driven life" something worth separating over?

sounds to me like something out of 1 corinthians 1. "i am of warren" "i am of driscoll" "i am of macarthur" and the particularly pious "i am of turk"...

Daryl said...

One man's opinion, more about human nature that the Scriptural answer to the question at hand...

I would venture a guess that 99.99999% of the time, those leaving a church don't understand the difference between heresy and error.

But that's just an educated guess...

It seems to me that a heretic, by his very nature, will kick you out for trying to teach good doctrine. A teacher in error probably won't.

And ought we to leave over mere error? Well then there'd be no church, anywhere.
So I start my own. I'd have to leave because somewhere, somehow I'd be in error.

I wonder if the issue is, putting the bar anywhere lower than "never leave, for nuthin'" will (and has) result in people leaving for any reason.
Like divorce. We can say it's bad and evil all we want, but unless we're willing to say "It's wrong all the time" we'll end up leaving for dumb reasons.
Determining not to leave a church or a marriage for any reason, will guard us, and keeps faithful far longer, and all to the good of the marriage or the church.

bp said...

David,
I appreciate your (f)rankness. We didn't consider it a refusal to submit because they did stipulate that it was not mandatory. We made sure of this before we made the decision to stick with what we were studying.

And as far as the PDL not being a heretical, well, I think that's open for discussion. There's possitive things to discuss in Rob Bell's teachings too.

Exblogitory said...

I was just using an extreme to make a point that defining the "church" should be the first priority.

I definitely think you are right regarding the VERY BAD reasons people do leave churches. I can testify to that from personal experience, since I saw MANY people leave our church for "reasons" such as the music style, the small size of our local congregation, etc. Most of them found other churches with many more people and "better" music. It was certainly sad.

HSAT, let me give you a more realistic example of what I am talking about above, since there are certain assumptions to what constitutes a church.

For example, let's pick on Willow Creek (sorta:) Willow Creek does not mention anything about the trinity, the gospel of justification, the deity of Christ, the authority of scriptures, and on and on in the "What does Willow believe?" part of their website. Maybe they have a more detailed SOF that does mention these things, maybe they don't - I do not know. For the sake of argument, let's say a mega "church" does NOT have anything more than what is on Willow Creek's website. Also, for the sake of argument, let's say the same mega "church" does not have teachers who teach any of the doctrines I just mentioned. As a side note, most people would consider this mega church to be evangelical, regardless of what I think!

Now a couple of questions.

Is this mega "church" constituted a church? If so, why? IF you would encourage a believer to stay in such a "church", what would your basis be?

I would say there is no basis for them staying, since I would argue it is NOT truly an evangelical, orthodox church. I would also argue Corinth was orthodox and evangelical (1 Cor chapters 1-3) even though they did have their problems. It was founded on the gospel that Paul & Apollos preached which is why Paul thought it was viable. So I do agree people should not leave churches founded on the true gospel, just because the church is having serious problems, even doctrinal ones.

But, as I said earlier, before we tell someone to stay OR leave their "church", we need to understand more about their "church" and especially THE church. I think the latter needs to be the starting point in this discussion, rather than the former.

Frank Turk said...

Strategem:

Then you should take me up on the offer. You should be able to wipe up the whole internet with me; as we all know, someone on the internet is wrong.

Have meetings and stuff this afternoon; will be back later to answer everyone at all times and in all ways who think I am wrong about this.

Frank Turk said...

SandMan:

to [1] -- because most churches people leave are not making these errors. And to stay provocative and edgy, I'll qualify "most" as "in the neighborhood of 98%".

to [2], see #1. And I'll elaborate briefly by saying that most people who think they are identifying these errors don't understand them well enough to assign their personal anathema to the person they are allegedly "rebuking".

to [3] -- where did I say "never"? It can't be found here, nor in the whole history of the internet.

stratagem said...

Frank
I don't know what offer you are talking about that I haven't already taken up, on here. (Something about a D-blog, whatever that may be?)
I've already "offered" you a chance to submit some Scripture that supports your all-encompassing, simplistic point of view on a subject of which the Scripture is silent. The fact that you can't do it satisfies my goal, which is that no one who is being abused by false teachers will feel needless pangs of guilt over doing the right thing, simply because you are a recognized authority and are telling them they are doing the wrong thing. Ciao.

SandMan said...

Frank,

First, I took your "no qualifiers" comment to mean you never advocated vacating a church for any reasons.

Brass: be faithful to the congregation in which God ahs placed us.

Frank: Hey Brass --

Complete "yes" to paragraph #1. No qualifiers.



Now you are saying 98%. Which I am more comfortable with, for the reasons I stated and you agreed to.

Second, I agree with you on the point that most are not leaving for heresy... and after reading others' comments on the subject of distinguishing between error and heresy I am in further agreement with you than my comments may suggest.

I will admit that church-hopping due to itching ears and the like are easy to rule out. I understand the point to stick-to-the-stuff in the face of error in your church with the desire to restore the church to godliness. To those things; point taken.

How is that lived out in the abusive leadership church, the wonky book-keeping church, the church chasing political/social agendas, the church turned seeker-sensitive/po-mo?... I guess I need to chew on that some more (search the Scriptures).

At any rate, I won't debate here any longer until if/when I can offer more substance.

Thank you for your time.

Sir Brass said...

"Being afraid to say "I love the church" because one is afraid of sounding "Romish" is, well, not a very good excuse."

I wasn't afraid to say it, I just wanted to make sure that folks wouldn't misunderstand me (like some seem to have done when I say that a person still makes a free decision for or against Christ when presented with the Gospel).

B/c, I DO love the church :).

SandMan said...

@ Brass: I wasn't keying on your use of "afraid" or "Romish." My point was that you said (paragraph 1)we should be faithful to the Body we are in (paraphrase). Then you stated certain exceptions apply in paragraph 2. Frank, seems to me, said that he agreed with paragraph 1 (He said "no qualifiers"), thus nullifying paragraph 2. I happen to agree with your paragraph 2 and believe that the verses I used show what those qualifiers would be. Not quibbling... just want to be certain I am communicating my point clearly. Thanks.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

First, I took your "no qualifiers" comment to mean you never advocated vacating a church for any reasons.

[Ummmm, I had the same understanding....]

Brass: be faithful to the congregation in which God ahs placed us.

Frank: Hey Brass --

Complete "yes" to paragraph #1. No qualifiers.


Now you are saying 98%.


This looks to be a slight move in a helpful direction. I.e., From "No qualifiers" to 98%.

Looking back, I remembered this comment by Pyromaniac Phil Johnson:

"I had grown up in an extremely liberal United Methodist Church, where I had no exposure whatsoever to evangelicalism. Frankly, I don't remember ever hearing anything about the gospel in all those years in the Methodist church."

Phil Johnson subsequently left the United Methodist Church. May I safely assume that it wasn't a sin for Phil Johnson to have left the United Methodist Church?

And so, if someone did not hear the Gospel (like Phil didn't) or heard a false or distorted Gospel, then would it be okay to leave that church (like Phil did)?

I also assume that the leadership at Phil's United Methodist Church did not ask Phil to leave prior to him leaving.

stratagem said...

Good point.
I also think that people shouldn't be able to relocate, because in that case they are apt to leave their local church for petty reasons like not having a job if they stayed. I'm sure if they just stuck it out they'd get by somehow.

Sir Brass said...

Sandman,

It wasn't you I was responding to, but to Frank :).

Where Frank and I disagree is whether or not there are certain exceptions. I think there ARE.

What we are both in adamant opposition to are those who will leave a church b/c of some pet doctrine of theirs that, while it is biblical (let's take the issue of baptism as it pertains to the debate between reformed baptists and reformed presbyterians), when it is taught against they get up and leave in a huff.

Exceptions would come about when one of those doctrines is part and parcel with a church's confession. Then it becomes a matter of church discipline, and what Frank said about trying to fix things or being put out then applies.

So what about where Frank is: in a non-confessional church (unless you count the Baptist Faith and Message as a confession like the WCoF or the LBCF 1689 are confessions). Let's say someone THERE comes to agree with the reformed presbyterian view on baptism. Should they just decide to leave? NO. God in His sovereignty has placed them there for a REASON. If they feel very strongly on the issue, then they ought to try and reason with their brothers within the bounds of Christian love to correct things. If they cannot do so but are still accepted there, then they ought to stay. If they cannot do so but are asked to leave, then they have their leave to leave. But while that congregation is more than willing to have them and love them with Christian love and charity WITH THEIR VIEWS EXPRESSED, then they ought to stay. Their brothers and sisters in Christ are willing to live with them in fellowship, after all.

What Frank presents that I think most people MISS is that he presents a loaded situation. If the error is serious enough, then the one trying to correct the error but not cause disunity WILL be asked to leave OR be removed when he presses the issue. OR, the church will, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, be reformed in some manner. However it goes, it is by the Lord's sovereign doing that it is done, and the believer seeking reformation should trust in that.

Frank is right to point back to the reformers like Luther. Luther did NOT leave the the Roman church voluntarily. Those 95 theses were a notice of debate WITHIN Roman Catholicism, NOT a statement of schism. If the movie is to be believed, when the Pontiff of Rome issues his bull against luther, Luther was shocked and said, "But I am a loyal son of the church!" He and the other reformers were trying to REFORM the Roman Church. But they were put out from it when they tried to reform. Notice, they didn't leave, they had to be kicked out.

Now, I still disagree with Frank on some degree. For example, what about a church which is so large that the church-going person is essentially left as a loner in a sea of faces. He's in a small group, but one which while not in error won't accept correction but continues with its watered-down teaching anyway. The church isn't, in reality, unbiblical, but it suffers from being overly large. I think in that situation, if that believer is being starved spiritually, then he has leave to leave for a fellowship which he knows WILL feed him.

That was my situation in going from a large evangelical church in my area to the small reformed baptist church in which I am now a member. However, I did not do so lightly, and I did not just up and disappear. One of the pastors of that former church (which I was never formally a member of, btw) I even talked to. At first he was concerned until I told him what church I was going to start attending. Then he gave his glad blessing on it. Also, I could've also followed Frank's advice and still ended up where I am now, as if I'd continued to voice opposition to the small group leader over his teaching, I would've been asked to leave that small group.

Still, my case is NOT the case with most people, I think. And even in my case, most of what Frank said was RIGHT!

Jmv7000 said...

This conversation looks familiar. . .

It seems the whole reason for attending church should be questioned. I hear time and time again from customers and people, "My church isn't feeding me."

This sounds holy, but vastly unbiblical. The pastor's job is to feed, my job is to serve. But I don't go to my church because I get well fed. We go to church to serve the body and love others! Sure we get fed, but being fed is a small sliver in a pie-chart of why we attend.

stratagem said...

Brass
I certainly don't disagree that a lot of what Frank has said is right. If I didn't think so, I wouldn't read this blog. I only wish he wouldn't make 100% compliance statements about a subject God seems to entrust to our judgement, by way of His not addressing the issue specifically and clearly (that is, the issue of what a layman is to do in an ecclesia that is teaching serious error).

I suppose his more-recent "98% of the time" statement is a sign that he knows there are exceptions, which is encouraging. I suspect that 98% is still a bit high, but probably not by much.

Anyway, it is getting late out East and I am going to eat. I won't leave this Board, however, unless I am kicked out by a false teacher. (that's a joke).

SandMan said...

Brass,

Thanks for the clarification. I agree with the points you/Frank agree upon, also.

I won't restate my case as to the "exceptions" again. I am tending toward concerns about statements that don't allow for letting the rank and file Christian get out of a dangerous teaching, spiritual starvation, or widespread abuse by the leadership. For example, my extended family were in a church that hired a pastor who was recently caught in a long-term affair, and removed from the pulpit he was in because of this sin. The hiring church reasoned around passages like I Timothy and Titus regarding the qualifications of pastors... which tells us something doesn't it? This was not the LDS's or the JW's...this was an orthodox denomination. My relatives, having been lulled into spirtual anorexia from 20 minute cutesy sermons blindly trusted that their elders understood the issue and had made the right choice. I mean, they're elders after all. Am I sinning to suggest they go someplace where the authority of scripture is still held in high regard, or should I wait until their church becomes outright heretical to tell them to get out? Not directing this at you.. specifically, just mulling out loud.

Sir Brass said...

Sandman,

My concerns would lean in that kind of direction as well, and I DO think that solid believers then do have leave to leave.

However, something I noticed in what Frank has written. What you mentioned is SERIOUS error. Shouldn't these people then bring it to bear and try to reason with their parishioners and the elders?

Wouldn't doing so generally cause reform or get them asked to leave? If so, then Frank's absolutes still apply.

My concern then would be when the congregation is so wishy-washy that they will be tolerant of even those who are dogmatically opposed to the teaching or practices (note in my baptism example I didn't use the example of believers baptism vs. the lutheran view of baptism, as there is VERY VERY serious divides there). Otherwise, if it is possible, affect reform as directed in heart, mind, and deed by Scripture, or get kicked out doing it.

bp said...

The church we were attending had gotten so bad (seeker friendly) that the music director was playing secular rock songs in the worship service, which I heard eventually led to long time (older) members refusing to enter the sanctuary until the worship music ended. As far as I know, the Pastor refused to change course and was, (as Rick Warren's videos we watched in Sunay class encouraged) convinced that it was an important aspect of moving toward the Purpose Driven paradigm to expect and welcome the troublemakers (dissenters) to leave.

Honestly, how far can a church go before you up and leave?

bp said...

which, by the way, most everyone did.

stratagem said...

However, something I noticed in what Frank has written. What you mentioned is SERIOUS error. Shouldn't these people then bring it to bear and try to reason with their parishioners and the elders?

Wouldn't doing so generally cause reform or get them asked to leave? If so, then Frank's absolutes still apply
.

Brass, I haven't read anyone here who has suggested that one should leave a church without first confronting false teachings via official channels. However, it is a fallacy to think that doing so will always result in being kicked out or listened to; those would be fairly dispositive outcomes and actually easier than reality. What is more likely to happen is that you'll just be ignored. So no, Frank's absolutes don't apply, except in the hypothetical black and white situation he generally describes.
I have no doubt that if Frank was in a church and didn't like what was being taught, he might have a positive effect or be kicked out, but likely he would not be ignored because of his celebrity and temperment, but that's not the lot of many believers. They are ignored, may be tolerated and continue to attend as long as they like, but (as Dan says) with an unseen asterisk next to their name, perhaps.
Extreme hypothetical situations lend themselves to extreme pronouncements, for sure. But the most important point by far is that the guidelines for when one can leave and when one shouldn't are indefinite in Scripture, to my knowledge, so perhaps we shouldn't draw a hard red line in such cases?

Sir Brass said...

"However, it is a fallacy to think that doing so will always result in being kicked out or listened to;"

And that would be where Frank and I would disagree with each other (from what I see) and I agree with you.

bp said...

Just to clarify so that no one thinks I'm making an issue of leaving a church cuz of rock-worship style music, I'm talking about secular rock music with original lyrics, mixed in with worship songs.

But anyway, that was just the tip of the iceberg.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Another problematic aspect to the exhortation of staying in a heretical and apostate church is that it makes doing the Great Commission exceedingly difficult. Asking people to be discipled in a heretical, apostate church seems like spiritual malpractice.

Sir Aaron said...

So let me get this straight. It's a sin to leave your local church under almost any situation or circumstance. But

(1) you're free to choose whichever church you wish to join. Once you join however, you're stuck there.

(2) The verses on unity only apply to leaving the church. If you leave the church silently, that's prohibited,, even sinful, and causing disunity. Being outspoken or acting contrary to specific elder pronoucements because of bad or heretical teaching is acceptable, at least under certain circumstances. It's therefore preferable to cause enough disturbance to get kicked out then to leave in silence over heresy.

(3)God placed you in a church with a false teacher for a reason, but that reason wasn't to finally convince you to join a church down the street with sound Biblical teaching.

(4) Anyone who doesn't debate Frank on D-blog is a chicken, incapable of putting forth a defensible argument.

Is that about the sum of it?

Lilian said...

I don't usually comment here because I don't usually have anything to say or add. But...
I just want to encourage Frank by saying how much I've learnt and appreciated from his series on staying in the church.
I love how Frank is challenging us, me in particular, to embrace and love the C/church self-sacrificially to point of setting aside my own desires for the betterment of the local fellowship of which I am a member. I have been convicted by this series to fight the good fight especially for those who can't and even those who don't care what happens in the church. The truth is I am a sinful human being and even with the best of intentions, I can fall into pride in wanting things to happen my way while believing I am being biblical.
Thank you, Frank. God bless.

CR said...

What are the "d-blog" rules? Is that like what is the Dan blog rules?

Frank Turk said...

It's been a long day for me, so I'm batting clean-up from the bed.

Strategem said:
[quote]
Can you come up with even one verse that clearly backs up the extreme statements you are making?
Where does the Bible mention that leaving a church before being kicked out is a sin, for instance?
[/quote]


I am sure you can compose 10,000 ways of framing my concern here which the Bible does not state. Let's try at least three which the Bible does state (some of which I already pointed out in Paul to young Timothy)

Here's one: "Suffer indignity for the sake of Christ and the Gospel"

Paul said in 2 Timothy:
do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace.

Here's another one: "The church will undoubtedly be a mixture of faithful and unfaithful men, but that doesn't give the faithful a license to leave but instead to stand firm."

Also from 2 Timothy:
God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: "The Lord knows those who are his," and, "Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity."

Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work
.

Here's a favorite of mine, also from 2 Tim which needs no paraphrase:
the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

And that's just in 2 Timothy which I already had included in this post. There's no way to read any of those statements as merely omitting the justification to run away when your theological nose is out of joint. If I had a week off, my guess is that I could find and properly exegete at least 50 passages in the NT where the call of the believer is to stand and stay and proclaim and love but not to run away.

If you can find 3 supporting your view in the NT which are even as near-miss as 2 Cor 6, you would have found 3 more than have been proffered since this post originally came up.

Frank Turk said...

TUAD said this:

I thought this post was a stand-alone post, and was not aware that it was a part of a series of posts that argues in favor of staying in whatever church you're attending, no matter how heretical and apostate it's become.

Let me say this as plainly as I can without regard to how gently it might be otherwise expressed: those who are framing what I have said in this post, and in the many posts I have made on this topic, as "you may never leave your church no matter what" are simply setting up something any moron would reject rather than dealing with the actual things I have said.

Someone find anywhere in the whole internet where I have said "you may never leave", and I'll simply stop blogging forever.

Period.

I'm not answering another question/comment which is framed against the ludicrous reductio that I am advocating that no one ever leave their local church. The problem is that many of you see the matter of leaving as something which is incumbent upon the individual because you believe the church is inherently a problem. What the Bible teaches us instead is that we are the problem and that part of the solution is to be faithful to the church.

In some ways this is an application of James 1&2: Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. It's an application of 1 John 2:Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness; whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling.

But, of course, it's a lot easier to call someone who is doing things we don't like an "unbeliever" and write off a whole church full of people (which we are never once commanded to do in the NT) than it is to do these things, which we are actually commanded to do.

Frank Turk said...

On Rom 16:17-18

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught:

avoid them.

For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.


There is no question at all that these two verses say to avoid "those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught".

So when a pastor starts causing divisions and creating obstacles contrary to doctrine -- that is, he's forcing people out over his own errors -- leave.

This looks astonishingly like what I've been saying for two years. The only difference would be that Paul is saying, "when you see the trend that others have been tossed out, you can go," and I have said you should personally suffer some to see if you're going to get thrown out. My assumption is that you, with your blog-enriched powers of discernment, are the first to see the problem and not some person who just stops by once in a while and doesn't notice things are going poorly until the pastor is wearing clown paint or a dress.

Because that's what you're assuming you are, right? The people someone else said are pretty much without any errors and who have a mature sense of discernment.

Moreover, I'd make a bold statement about Rom 16:17-18 -- Paul is addressing that to a whole church and not to some atomized theoretical version of the church. So his instructions to the church is to avoid people who are using sloppy or intentionally-bad doctrine to divide the body.

Consider what that means for a while before you come back with "yeah but ..."

Frank Turk said...

More from Strategem:

I have no doubt that if Frank was in a church and didn't like what was being taught, he might have a positive effect or be kicked out, but likely he would not be ignored because of his celebrity and temperment, but that's not the lot of many believers. They are ignored, may be tolerated and continue to attend as long as they like, but (as Dan says) with an unseen asterisk next to their name, perhaps.

Of all the things proffered in this thread so far, this shows how far strategem is willing to go to send this discussion into the briar patch rather than someplace where the rabbit may actually be caught.

I like the idea that I'm a "celebrity", and that's what causes me to have influence in my local church. I'll have my entourage come around and if they can't slay you in the spirit, at least they're bruise your reed if you don't take up the offer I make, eh?

Here's my rebuttal: ask Tad Thompson why I had influence at our local church, and how many people there read my blog. If he says anything resembling, "well, Frank pretty much is a force of nature, and we were glad that his wind was blowing in the right direction; no question his status as a celebrity caused him to influence a lot of people" then I'll resign from TeamPyro after retracting all my posts on this subject.

If not, then I suggest that we try to avail ourselves of the real value in this approach from the perspective that Christ died for the church in particular and not for the church in theory.

Frank Turk said...

Lillian:

Every time I restart this topic, I get one person more who "gets it".

I thank God for you, and I thank you for your encouragement. Anyone who says he loves God whom he cannot see but does not love his brother whom he can see ... well, you get it.

Thanks for stopping by.

Frank Turk said...

(1) you're free to choose ... Once you join however, you're stuck there.

Nope. Read any of what I have posted on this subject, and you'll be embarassed for saying it that way.

For your sake, here's my one-sentence summary of my point: "Before you 'leave' a church, you should have been 'joined to' it in the first place; leaving a local church ought to be a gut-wrenching decision, and only for the most extreme reasons; it is not, and should never be, a common remedy to dissatisfaction among believers."

(2) The verses on unity only apply to leaving the church. ... It's therefore preferable to cause enough disturbance to get kicked out then to leave in silence over heresy.

The only way to phrase my point that way is to simply ignore the dozens of sentences I have provided which stress love and sacrifice and grace.

The only choices are not skulk away or throw tomatoes? Maybe one could try some other part of one’s vast discernment apparatus which can sniff out heresy to sniff out some Gospel-centered solutions to the problem.

See: I reject the idea that somehow someone who can discern teaching which is "false enough" to nullify the Gospel is somehow otherwise bound and gagged to find Gospel solutions to the problem. The Gospel is more than a merely-rational argument or a serious of truth statements: it is also something which makes us adorn what Christ has done.

Yet it is clear, every time this subject comes up, that many who say they can see theological skubalon everywhere can't see a similar kind of cast-away detritus in the way they think they can deal with people.

(3)God placed you in a church ... join a church down the street with sound Biblical teaching.

I actually like this one -- because it ignores two issues:

[A] that somehow under a false teacher, you gained the discernment to find out he's false.

[B] that being under a false teacher hasn't in some way damaged your discernment.

It's a strange place to stand, isn't it? Here's this person who we were not able to tell, perhaps as recently as a week ago, apart from Phil Johnson or Dan Phillips -- and now suddenly here we are, enlightened by some epistemological mystery, to the fact that this person is actually a heretic!

How exactly did sitting under the authority of a heretic -- a person to be cut off and avoided -- get us to the place where we can unmask him? Are we momentarily charismatic and we just received a word of truth?

See: I think the problem is that we just don't have good discernment overall, and we put people into categories which we don't understand, and we don't try to love first: we instead try to defend or protect first.

That is a bad instinct.

(4) Anyone who doesn't debate Frank on D-blog is a chicken, incapable of putting forth a defensible argument.

I would actually say, "anyone who wants to mouth off in the meta about how false this point of view is, and hand out lectures which ping-pong all over the place from misrepresentation to slander to mythic strawman, is no better than the average pomo who uses the dodge 'like ministry' to resist actually putting his view to the test to find out if he's wrong or not."

You way is probably nicer, however, so we'll go with that.

And with that, I bid you all a good night. Do you worst; I'll close the comments on Friday sometime after you all get your last word in edgewise.

And no takers for the D-Blog? Gosh: I thought this was important enough to call men invested with biblical offices "heretics" and to go and become a spiritually-homeless person. You'd think that would deserve some airing out when I'm obviously leading people to destroy themselves spiritually.

Go Figure.

Frank Turk said...

Oh wait: I missed one.

I'm still waiting for you to exegete any verse that tells Christians the must stay under the preaching of rank heretics until they are effectually kicked out. You're application of the cited texts in your post seems to miss the point that the instruction was about how pastors are to handle their flocks even though they stray into error.

Where have I said that organizations which are run by rank heretics are churches?

The problem at its root, Chad, is that you assume that someone who, yesterday, was unable to tell if a person giving lectures on Sunday is a pastor or a deceiving devil can, tomorrow, suddenly make Chalcedonic distinctions or separate Arius from Adrian Rogers when they have themselves primarily been under the teaching of this person.

See: it seems to me that if this person is self-instructed to suddenly have this great spiritual light turn on inside himself, and he suddenly perceives that his pastor is Doug Pagitt or Servetus, his first question cannot be, "where's the exit?" It has to be instead, "am I certain that God will utterly condemn this man -- because that's what I'm about to do."

It also seems to me that the clear demands of Scripture to love one another, sacrifice as a sign of love, honor those who are in authority, and have a little bit of humility because you are still probably ignorant of about 99% of what God is doing both in you and in others, (do you really need the verse numbers and the extended exegesis?) override for the person who is not a pastor the pastoral demands to refute, rebuke, and cast out those who are tried against truth and fall short.

If you yourself are not qualified to be a pastor or elder, it seems to me to take a lot of spiritual chutzpah to be the ecclesiastical court for the man whom you fellow believers have said is.

If you want to go verse by verse through this because the things I said here are not scripturally self-evident, then come over to the D-Blog. Saying, "well, no exegesis" overlooks that among believers some truths really ought to be self-evident from Scripture -- specially when it comes to Christianity 101. Or John 13-15, 1 Cor 13, and Job 40, among other passages.

Chad V. said...

Frank

You're just wrong and honestly your last comment about how someone should react to realizing that they are under the ministry of a Pagitt or Servetus is inexcusable, irresponsible and downright dangerous. You act as though the bible says nothing at all about false teachers and how Christians should react to them.

CR said...

Can someone tell me what is "D-Blog." I truly don't know. Thanks.

Chad V. said...

CR

It's a blog Frank has where he debates people, a debate blog.

CR said...

Thx Chad.

Frank Turk said...

Chad --

You're so concerned about the handful of noisy heretics that you can't tell the difference between them and men who simply make mistakes once in a while -- and you don't have a theology which seeks reconciliation before its seeks to classify someone as irredeemably damned.

That is: you have an immature point of view, spiritually. And that is not a bad thing in and of itself -- it can easily be mended -- but you want to pawn that off as maturity and you want to leverage that into discernment. It's that perspective which makes your problem one that requires more than just a pat on the head.

Everyone with a soul patch is not your enemy -- some of them (I would say many of them) are in fact just confused and uninformed. But the way to inform them is not to accuse them of being unbelievers and abandon their churches.

So in that respect, you're right: my comment is dangerous. But it's dangerous to people who are simply not spiritually ready to be their own elder pretending they are the right person to tell the difference between Rick Warren and Doug Pagitt.

Now since the fireworks are lit, tell me this: as a broad percentage, how many people would say they left their local church because their pastor is a Christ-denying heretic -- less than 20%, less than 50%, about 70% or more than 80%?

With that number in mind, given the trend that many people are leaving their local churches, how many of those people actually have heretic pastors? If it's half of them, I'd say that's a victory for your side -- but I'd be willing to say it's less than 25% of them actually face the problem of heresy. Mostly they get into comflicts about stupid things and leave rather than resolve the conflict.

Seriously: people leave John MacArthur's church and John Piper's church. You think those people are running away from heretics? I assure you: they do.

That 75% of people need the strong medicine of these posts. People who wake up inside Mormonism know what to do. They result of us should instead live as if the Gospel was true and not merely some lofty truth that doesn't enter into the world.

Chad V. said...

Frank

Your comment about my theology not seeking reconciliation... there are people who know me who read this blog and they know that what you said is simply not true, and so does God. Keep your yap shut about that. You don't really know anything about me or what I've done or how I live out my faith.

We haven't been discussing those cases where people leave churches for all kinds of stupid reasons. People have tried to broach that with you but you just puff out your chest and bluster. We (that is you and I) have been discussing situations where people would be under the preaching of a clear and obvious heretic, Bell, Pagitt, Servetus and now you want to bring Warren into this. AS I recall it was Strat who first raised the example of Bell. If you can't see that those men are rank heretics then save your speeches on discernment.

ezekiel said...

I have to go with Frank on this one.

1)If you really have the knowledge and discernment to spot false teaching, you have the responsibility to confront it and expose it for the the sake of the local body. Not just find another church. If you have that knowledge and that discernment then you more than likely have the temperment and the ability to not be ignored. That would all be rolled up in the same skill set. Luther was a good example...

2)What seems to be missing from a lot of the comments is the soveriegnty of God. Do we really suppose it was accident that you chose the church you did or that He would place you where He did, give you the knowledge that He did, equip you the way He did and then bless you for leaving because you got yourself and your flesh offended by the music or carpet or the way the preacher looked at you last Sunday.

3)Jesus was killed outside the camp for a reason. If in fact your doctrine and your service is so pure that it offends the church you are in to the point that you are asked to leave camp then you will be in good company.

I say this after leaving a local church having deciding the new pastor was a false teacher. Still pretty convinced he is. Looking back on that decision, I left a place that was comfortable, the kids were all going to SS school and attending regularly. These days we are all pretty skeptical of churches, the kids don't want to go, the wife doesn't want to go. All we can see is money grubbing heresy everywhere. Did they get that from the preacher or did they get that from me?

2nd thoughts for sure. I could have used some of Frank's advice sooner but I probably couldn't have understood it then anyway. Looking back on it, I think he is offer sound advice.

Chad V. said...
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Chad V. said...

ezek

I think your point about Jesus being outside the camp is misapplied. I'm not certain if it applies in this situation but you'll notice that the Hebrews are commanded, Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. Heb 13:11, not wait to get kicked out. In fact in that context they are told not to be led away by strange teachings.

But like I said, I'm not sure if it applies to this specific situation.

Besides, who said people should leave a church they are part of without first making an attempt at reconciliation? Not me, not anyone on this string that I can remember.

Frank Turk said...

Chad --

Aha. Let me suggest something in the line of "keeping my yap shut": if your personal practice is in-line with reconciliation, your comments here are not. That is: you are an advocate -- clearly, and in no uncertain terms -- for something other than a route of reconciliation and unity first.

Your personal works may show your faith: my suggestion to you is to teach others to do the say. The theology from your "yap" doesn;t match the theology you report you live by.

As for what we "haven't been discussing", I know what the people who agree with you are trying to discuss: the idea that we should always be prepared to leave a check when it goes "apostate". What that approach to this topic leads to is spiritually-homeless people who are always at-odds with those men who are given the responsibility to watch over them, and everything becomes a matter of disagreement and "heresy".

You know: my pastor is a heretic because he's amillennial and not pre-mil. My pastor's a heretic because he always gives an invitation, and that other guy is a heretic becuase he never gives an invitation. My pastor went on a foreign missions trip and misspent church money to do so, so he's a heretic; my pastor has never been on a foreign missions trip and he's a heretic for not loving the nations.

My pastor only preaches application; mine only preaches from the Greek and never makes a point. My pastor never does visitation; you can't even find mine because he's always gabbing with someone -- and sometimes it's in a public place where there's alcohol served. My pastor has good relationships with the local Catholic priest; my pastor can't be bothered to join the misiterial alliance, let alone have lunch with another person who leads another group in town who claim the name of Jesus (rightly or wrongly).

In short: "my pastor" always becomes the excuse for me to be a spiritual infant the rest of my life -- because please God: let my most important doctrine be the doctrine of separation rather than the doctrine of unity in truth and fellowship in the Gospel.

So while I will be happy to "shut my yap" about whatever it is you do in real life, at some point direct your pseudonymically-veiled admonitions to others along the path you live on, then, rather than along a path which is part and parcel of the consumer-driven church.

It is always an outrage to develop moral and ethical standards based primarily on the extreme cases, and that approach always leads to legalism -- making lists which make us feel better about our performance. What I am talking about, and have been talking about, and will continue to hammer on regarding this topic is that our ecclesiastical ethics and theology have to relate to what happens every day and should not judge the local guy who works for half what he could make in the real world for the sake of God and God's people too harshly or too soon for being a guy who is a sinner like me.

Is ever pastor who preaches a weak sermon a heretic? What if he usually preaches a weak sermon? is that really grounds to disfellowhip with someone?

So what is your point exactly? Anathema on Joel Osteen? Great: I agree. Now how does that help me personally who wants to finds a church in a mid-sided city where there is no John MacArthur, John Piper or Mark Dever?

It doesn't much, does it?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Centuri0n: "It is always an outrage to develop moral and ethical standards based primarily on the extreme cases, and that approach always leads to legalism -- making lists [rules?] which make us feel better about our performance."

With all due respect, there's a bit of irony in that comment and it also smacks of being a self-refuting statement.

Eg, let's look at your D-blog challenge:

"The New Testament never once tells us that the right and best course of action to take when a pastor teaches error is to leave the local church, therefore leaving your local church is fraudulent faithfulness."

(As an aside, I think it could be reasonably argued that your thesis as you have framed it is rigging the debate in your favor.)

bp said...

Frank,
Last night I was thinking about all the comments I had read here and felt convicted for bringing up my experience at this church without anyone from there being able to give a defense. And since it is possible that someone could come on, see my name and know which church I'm talking about, I felt led of God to come back and simply delete my comments above. But it won't let me, so in consideration for this church,I'd appreciate it if you'd do it for me.

And just one final comment. I do appreciate many of the things you've said and many points have given me pause to think. I did, however, come away from today's reading with not only the sense that you ignored my comments, but that me and people like me were broad-labeled as whiny, disgruntled, heretic searchers.

I thank God that when we came to Bethlehem, and I talked to someone in leadership, because I was still confused and hurt and felt guilty from what had happened, that they didn't broad sweep me in this way, but instead, (maybe because they been through a similar experience), showed me much grace and encouragement.

Every situation is different.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

How's this for a peace pipe:

There may be an innocuous conflation of two separate issues that are muddying up the waters. If we separate the two, we could end up in agreement with each other, or at least closer to it.

No one has argued in favor of a consumerist approach to leaving a church if you happen to be in a church.

AND no one has explicitly argued that one has to stay in a heretical and/or apostate church.

If we keep those two items separate, then perhaps we can all reach a mutually agreeable understanding.

BTW, I think Strategm's suggestion is reasonable:

"But the most important point by far is that the guidelines for when one can leave and when one shouldn't are indefinite in Scripture, to my knowledge, so perhaps we shouldn't draw a hard red line in such cases?"

Jim W said...

"Your personal works may show your faith: my suggestion to you is to teach others to do the say. The theology from your "yap" doesn;t match the theology you report you live by."
Frank Kettle-meet Pot Black.
This thread very ably demonstrates why I no longer read Frank's own blog and rarely read his scribblings here at Pyro.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

(One more comment while I have time.)

DJP has wrongfully accused me of desiring to see a fight between friends on his thread today.

(I'm posting my follow-up on this thread because I don't want to derail that thread.)

Here's my comment which sparked his false accusation:

[DJP] "And stay in a church where the Word is taught and practiced, pedal to the metal; and where a pastor takes to heart the care of your soul (Hebrews 13:17)."

As I mentioned before, this may be mere coincidence, but this exhortation echoes Centuri0n's comments in the thread of his immediately prior post. By and large, I don't think any regular TeamPyro reader would disagree with this counsel.

However, I should like to kindly ask whether you'd agree with a logical corollary to your counsel:

"If you're in a church where the Word is *not* taught and practiced, petal to the metal, and where a pastor (or pastoral staff) does *not* take to heart the care of your soul, then you have freedom to seek God's will about departing from that church in whatever God-glorifying manner He leads you."

As an example (and I mentioned this in the prior thread) I offer up Pyromaniac Phil Johnson's journey:

"I had grown up in an extremely liberal United Methodist Church, where I had no exposure whatsoever to evangelicalism. Frankly, I don't remember ever hearing anything about the gospel in all those years in the Methodist church."

Phil subsequently left this liberal United Methodist Church. And his departure is an example of the corollary that I just submitted for your review."

This raises an interesting issue. What role does it play that DJP knows Phil Johnson? What if I said that it was "John Doe" who reported this?

John Doe: "I had grown up in an extremely liberal United Methodist Church, where I had no exposure whatsoever to evangelicalism. Frankly, I don't remember ever hearing anything about the gospel in all those years in the Methodist church."

Would DJP then agree with the logical corollary to his proposition? Just because it's a "John Doe" and not a Phil Johnson? If so, then let me switch it out and say that a "John Doe" reported this experience. The logical corollary still holds.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

As an addendum to my immediately prior comment, let me recap what BP wrote:

"I did, however, come away from today's reading with not only the sense that you ignored my comments, but that me and people like me were broad-labeled as whiny, disgruntled, heretic searchers."

Suppose Centuri0n knew BP in real life. Would he have wrote differently in his comments if he knew her and her situation in real life?

Same general principle at work in the exchanges between Centuri0n and Chad V.

Chad V. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chad V. said...

I have no idea what "pseudonymically-veiled admonitions" even means and honestly I don't think your remark about my comments have any general merit in the first place.

See Frank, to leave a church over differences of theology does not equal disfellowship. It's a major flaw in your premise. Dare I say an extreme.

Now then, your comment about my theology having no place for reconciliation is baseless and the personal attack on that front isn't much in keeping with what you've just criticized me of. But no matter, it's water under the bridge as far as I'm concerned. I don't hold it against you.

Chad V. said...

Finally Frank.

Yes people leave churches for silly dumb and even sinful or spiteful reasons all the time. Your post didn't make that qualification. You made a broad sweeping universal assertion and when people tried to discern your intent or determine a qualification by suggesting extreme examples you simply maintained your broad sweeping universal dogmatic stance.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Chad V.,

I honestly thought that Centuri0n was making an untenable over-reach in his arguments as well. But he probably doesn't think so. In which case it's probably a matter of misunderstanding which could have been prevented by Centuri0n improving his writing/communication skills or his interlocutors improving their comprehension/interpretation skills or a combination of both. Is this sufficiently charitable?

Lastly, I offer this up as a possibly helpful (albeit rough) grid. It's not all encompassing. Imagine a 2x2 matrix or grid. Along one dimension, the categories of "Good" and "Bad" (this has elements of both subjectivity and objectivity). On the other dimension put "Sheep" and "Shepherd/Church".

Good Sheep + Good Shepherd/Church: It's good.

Bad Sheep + Bad Shepherd/Church: It's bad.

Bad Sheep + Good Shepherd/Church: No one disagrees with the proposition that bad sheep should stay in or with a Good Shepherd/Church. No one.

Good Sheep + Bad Shepherd/Church: It's in this box or cell that vigorous discussion occurs.

FWIW, I do not and would not argue that good sheep must stay in and with a bad shepherd/church.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Ooops. The dimensions of my matrix are incorrectly labeled. It should be Good Sheep and Bad Sheep along one dimension. And Good Shepherd/Church and Bad Shepherd/Church along the other dimension.

Frank Turk said...

I am 100% sure that you people can get to 100 comments if you try.

I'll lock up tommorow some time.

Chad V. said...

Funny, I looked up the word "pseudonymically" and as many variations of that word as I could think of. Since I couldn't find a definition for it I'll have to conclude that it's not even real word so unless Frank feels like cluing me on the definition I guess the miscommunication will continue.

97....

Solameanie said...

Frank, I've been threatening to do this to you for a while. I know you'll forgive me, being the courtly Southern gentleman that you are....

Sir Aaron said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sir Aaron said...

Chad V.:

I think Frank means that your admonitions are given from behind a Psuedonym (being that your website refers to Jim B and your handle is Chad V.). Some on Pyromaniacs are incredibly sensitive about those who post without any identifying information (I only added info to my bio after being told in no uncertain terms that I had broken this taboo).

I agree that Frank tends to take, to use your words, "broad sweeping universal dogmatic stances." It's fairly easy to come to this conclusion from this series as well as his series "Not to Be Taken Lightly" at his own blog. Incidentally, he's taken similarly excessive stances on the qualification of elders. Then when legitimate, plausible exceptions are brought up that contradict his stance, he's been equally dismissive of those as extreme examples that prove the rule. However, he has said on at least one occasion, "I'm still the same guy who said all the other things I have said in time and space, and you have to take some of that into consideration when you start with the "whaddabouts". So perhaps he's made a better case in previous posts.

He's also seemingly sensitive to the criticism he's received, his d-blog challenges notwithstanding. After all, he did write over 600 words replying to my clearly hyperbolic and rhetorical post.

Personally, I'll just chalk it up to my evidently poor reading comprehension skills. I humbly suggest that it would be best if we just let it go without further ado.

trogdor said...

...or one of you could actually take up the challenge and show that he's wrong. If he's as clearly wrong as everyone's insisting, it should be child's play to prove it scripturally. So far there've been two or three really weak and easily defeated attempts using scripture, and a whole lot of whaddabouts, many of which are aimed at points Frank didn't even come close to making.

Honestly, it's not like the NT isn't full of messages to rotten churches. How hard can it possibly be to make your case from two letters to Corinth? You've got legalism gone wild in Galatia - surely there must be clear direction in that letter for the pure believers to split out and form a new church, right? How about the seven churches Jesus addresses in Revelation, most of which have big enough problems that Jesus threatens them? There simply must be an admonition to the pure to light up a new lampstand down the road, or just have all the good ones move to Philadelphia and get the podcast from Ephesus.

No? That's odd.

Chad V. said...

sir aaron
Ah, I see. That's what he means. (smacks forehead). Who knew that pseudonym was an adverb?

Well, I'm not using a pseudonym and there's nothing veiled about my comments.

The reason Old Truth is on my profile is because I used to write and co-moderate with Jim on that blog until Jim's illness forced him to close it down. Besides I've got as much info as anyone else on my blogger profile. Guess I should update it though.

Time for nighty-night.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Trogdor,

What does Scripture say about a John Doe who had the following experience:

"I had grown up in an extremely liberal United Methodist Church, where I had no exposure whatsoever to evangelicalism. Frankly, I don't remember ever hearing anything about the gospel in all those years in the Methodist church."

And then this John Doe subsequently left this liberal United Methodist Church. Trogdor, what does Scripture say about John Doe having left the liberal United Methodist Church he was in?

CR said...

Trogdor: How about the seven churches Jesus addresses in Revelation, most of which have big enough problems that Jesus threatens them? There simply must be an admonition to the pure to light up a new lampstand down the road, or just have all the good ones move to Philadelphia and get the podcast from Ephesus.

That's interesting you mention the 7 churches in Revelation. Everyone should actually read very closely the description of each of the 7 churches. It's no accident the the Lord chose these 7 churches. I'm one of those guys that has no problem saying that Revelation is a book of physical prophecy but there is indeed, great, great, great great spiritual prophecy and truth in Revelation.

If we read the description of each of those 7 churches in Revelation we will find that the each of those churches are represented in America. I have no doubt that we can pick any country in the world where Christianity has been present for some time and those countries too have churches which are represented by the 7 churches.

I also have no doubt that each and every generation where the church has existed had churches in their provinces which was represented by the 7 churches.

I don't have a dog in this fight between Frank and Chad and I suppose there is an element of truth in what both are saying. But the apostle John wasn't kidding when he said blessed is the person who reads aloud the words of this prophecy and blessed are those who hear and keep what is written in it. (Dang it, there goes the idea that Revelation or eschatology is not that important...but I digress).

Chad - Frank may be hitting on to something, Chad. He’s already made clear he’s not talking about Mormon “church” or Kingdom Hall (they’re not churches). Frank has also made clear that he never said never leave. But I think he’s on to something because we have to remember, Jesus called these gatherings churches. And as I mentioned in an earlier comment, the general picture in the NT of what is meant by the “church” is a local gathering of saints where the presence and the Lordship of Christ is recognized. In other words, there were those in these local manifestations who were truly born again and spiritual people who are also members of the unseen spiritual church. Jesus called these local gatherings churches. 5 out of 7 of these churches were in baaaad shape. And if my memory serves me correct, Jesus didn’t call them houses of Baal worship (maybe one or two were pretty close), but he called them churches. I think it’s food for thought, Chad.

trogdor said...

TUAD, I would suggest the following things:

1) There simply isn't enough detail there to render judgment on this case. You still seem to be arguing against the "never leave, ever" strawman. (Well, arguing is probably the wrong word. Instigating or fight-picking might be more accurate.) Regardless, as Frank has stated repeatedly through this thread and many others, there are times when it's appropriate to leave. Your little snippet from this mysterious stranger isn't enough to judge either way.

2) What is the actual point of you question? Suppose the answer is yes, this mysterious stranger sinned. All that would prove is that mysterious stranger is an imperfect sinner - which I can guarantee he'd be the first to admit. Or I could, if we had any way of knowing who this totally random stranger was.

And if the answer's no, that he was right to leave? All that would show is that there are times when it's appropriate to leave. Which nobody is denying or has denied.

3) Theology-by-anecdote is a terribly tiresome practice.

4) I can lay out the scriptural case for "stay as long as it's an actual church" here if you want. I can also break the news that, if you take a round object and put a stick through the centers, you can use this crazy newfangled invention for easier transportation.

Seriously, Frank has laid out his case repeatedly here and at his blog in multiple series. While not in perfect agreement, I'm close enough that sure, I'll sign on. Especially since, when given an open forum and free reign to challenge that view from scripture, not a single person has been able to put forth a worthwhile objection.

I think we would all agree that our theology should be built from scripture, not from anecdotes and exceptions, yes? This would include ecclesiology, would it not?

By this point Frank has devoted somewhere along the lines of 1.21 gigawords to examining scripture and developing his case. He has repeatedly asked, begged, practically dared you, since are so sure he's wrong, to produce even one verse that contradicts him. The fact that you're not even trying, but simply producing hypotheticals or dissension-stirring, that doesn't bode well for your case.

Chad V. said...

Well, Like I said before all the texts he's cited are about how Pastors are to shepherd their flocks. They have nothing to do with how the flock should react to a pastor who denies important doctrines and puts a stumbling block in the way the Christian. Rom 16:17

He's also loaded his comments with erroneous statements like if one leaves a church he's determined that a pastor is irredeemably condemned, or that he necessarily disfellowships from the true Christians there. Those are transparently false statements and debating someone who does that repeatedly is really difficult. I for one don't have the time or energy for that right now.

And he hasn't made the rest clear at all in my opinion. When people have tried to ask about different situations which are valid questions to ask he's been dismissive and condescending.

There are lots of legitimate reasons why a Christian might leave one church for another. Those have ben completely ignored. The bible does not restrict Christians to remain in one congregation until they're kicked out (that seems to have been Frank's only caveat to his broad sweeping rule).

The texts Frank has cited are a better argument for the necessity of being part of a local church and worshiping with the saints but they don't restrict a Christian to a particular group of saints.

The issue has been raised repeatedly here on Pyro that unless one is either a pastor or qualified to be a pastor then one isn't qualified to judge the fitness of a pastor or his ministry. That's not even remotely a true statement and it would make it impossible for Christians to use any discrimination in finding a new church if they moved to another state ore even another town a significant distance from their current church for instance.

So Frank, I like you and I think you have a lot of valuable things to say but I think you need approach this subject more carefully in the future keeping in mind that people shouldn't have to go look up everything you've ever written on this subject in order to understand your point.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Trogdor,

Despite your insult-by-innuendo comment (or perhaps those were direct insults), your comment makes my point very nicely. A point which others have also made in this thread too. The point is that Scripture doesn't address the situation (and yes, there are sufficient details in the John Doe example. He left a liberal United Methodist Church.) definitively. And that was the point.

Second, I'm so glad that you agree that there are times when it's appropriate to leave. Thanks for affirming what Strategm has already written:

"But the most important point by far is that the guidelines for when one can leave and when one shouldn't are indefinite in Scripture, to my knowledge, so perhaps we shouldn't draw a hard red line in such cases?"

Third, trying to make hard-and-fast theological red lines where Scripture is indefinite is a "terribly tiresome practice".

Here's a fruit that occurs from crafting theological pronouncements where Scripture is indefinite:

"I did, however, come away from today's reading with not only the sense that you ignored my comments, but that me and people like me were broad-labeled as whiny, disgruntled, heretic searchers."

Fourth, you wrote: "Suppose the answer is yes, this mysterious stranger sinned. All that would prove is that mysterious stranger is an imperfect sinner."

Then tell that to Centuri0n. So the person left a church and Centuri0n declares it's a sin. As you said, "All that would prove is that mysterious stranger is an imperfect sinner."

Thank you.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Jim W: "Frank Kettle-meet Pot Black.

This thread very ably demonstrates why I no longer read Frank's own blog and rarely read his scribblings here at Pyro."


On the positive side, this thread ably demonstrates that not all regular Pyromaniac readers are sycophant suck-ups. Some people might criticize (or have criticized) that all regular Pyromaniac readers are unthinking guppy-swallowers to whatever the Pyro-authors write. This thread shows that that's not true.

Sir Aaron: "He's also seemingly sensitive to the criticism he's received"

Gosh, I hope he doesn't turn into another Internet Monk. One of those dish-it-out-but-can't-take it bullies wearing a victim mask. Then everyone has to walk on eggshells, and it really squelches discussion because the blog readership knows that constructive disagreement is apt to be misinterpreted.

Sir Aaron said...

Trogdor:

...or one of you could actually take up the challenge and show that he's wrong.

I'm a little more matured than to be suckered whenever somebody calls me "chicken." I'm discussing it here and I'm not inclined to take it outside, so to speak.

TUAD:

This thread very ably demonstrates why I no longer read Frank's own blog and rarely read his scribblings here at Pyro."

I'm not at all onboard with this statement. I know you were quoting somebody else, but Frank is a brother, hopefully a friend (although I've never met him) and as such deserves our respect and affection. Whatever fine points of doctrine over which we presently disagree, it is not serious enough to come between us is it? It's this kinda thing that I think Frank's main thrust is meant to address. We shouldn't break fellowship over non-crucial issues.

Gosh, I hope he doesn't turn into another Internet Monk. One of those dish-it-out-but-can't-take it bullies wearing a victim mask. Then everyone has to walk on eggshells, and it really squelches discussion because the blog readership knows that constructive disagreement is apt to be misinterpreted.

It's unfortunate, but it is what it is. You, I, and some others would argue that the rational, logical conclusion that is inferred from Frank's writings on this subject is that it's never right to leave a church unless some mathematically impossible event happens, say for instance, a meteor strikes the church during Sunday morning services. Frank's response is that he never said that. You provide examples, he explains it away. Hyperbole generates seething responses. At that point, it's not a friendly discussion anymore, it's an argument. When it degenerates to that degree it's time to reconcile and move on, even if it has the unfortunate side effect of squelching future discussions.

SandMan said...

Frank,
Thanks for the work that you and the other Pyros do here. I am blessed by this blog daily.

I agree with the overall point you made in this post--if anyone remembers what it was. I was one who did not agree with all of the conclusions drawn from the principles you laid out.

It's regretable that this thing got so heated. I think that a blog is a great place to share, discuss, debate...even disagree. However, I haven't before thanked you for the efforts you and the gents make here daily. I praise God for the wisdom he has granted Team Pyro... and I am one beneficiary. Love, in Christ.

Chad V. said...

Frank

In regards to my "shut your yap remark", I lost my temper for a moment there. I'm sorry. I should have responded better. Hope you'll forgive me.

Frank Turk said...

Last thoughts have been received.

Thread is closed.