12 June 2014

Do you want a church to belong to? Are you sure?

by Frank Turk

From 2006 to 2012, PyroManiacs turned out almost-daily updates from the Post-Evangelical wasteland -- usually to the fear and loathing of more-polite and more-irenic bloggers and readers. The results lurk in the archives of this blog in spite of the hope of many that Google will "accidentally" swallow these words and pictures whole.

This feature enters the murky depths of the archives to fish out the classic hits from the golden age of internet drubbings.

The following excerpt was written by Frank back in October 2007. Frank addressed several wrong-headed ideas regarding church membership.

As usual, the comments are closed.
From the day of Paul and his life after founding all those churches across the ancient world, the church was never perfect. Go back and read this post by me and look at the state of the churches Paul was writing to. The churches Paul founded were frankly not perfect -- they weren't even really very consistent. You know: it's not like 40 years had passed between the time Paul founded the church in Corinth and when they decided that the Lord's table was really a private party and not a public place where sinners demonstrate their unity in Christ, or where they had, apparently, forgotten the Gospel which is of first importance.

And Paul's first letter to Corinth didn't say, "Dudes: flee to the hills -- your pastors and elders are apostates." He said, in effect, "remember the truth of Christ and find unity in truth."

So in our right-minded expectation for Christ to come soon, we cannot at the same time look at Christ's church as something which we hold at arm's length.

I don't think people mean to profane the things God has made holy -- I think many people are simply looking for something which has never existed in the history of time and space, and our expectations of others are too high and of ourselves are too low.

That is: we want to find a church that makes us holy and perfect rather than seeing that Christ makes us holy and calls us out to be joined together in spite of the fact that none of us are right now perfect in the "things we do to ourselves and other people" kind of way. We are not the spiritual equivalent of "Mr. Clean" -- Jesus is. He is the one who cleans the whole house and everything in it, not you or your book-larnin', and certainly not the perfection of the pastor at your church. When we get that right, we can get a lot more right in the way we act toward others.

You know: the holiness of the church doesn't come from the holiness of the members. It comes from Christ.

John, at the end of his life, sees visions and hears the Glorified Christ say stuff, has the audacity to write stuff like this:
Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.
Now, look at all the "us"'s there -- and he's saying "us" to churches which Paul has written off decades before, and to whom he is about to write the letters of warning and condemnation.

That's not to soft-soak the warnings in the next 3 chapters: that's to say that even in giving these churches strong warnings, John wasn't ready to say that individuals needed to flee the church. He was ready and able to say that it is for the truth of Christ that we must stand firm, and it is by being the church that we repudiate error.

So before you get to "But I have this against you" or "some there who hold the teaching of Balaam" or "you tolerate that woman Jezebel" or "I will spit you out of my mouth", go back to the greeting John gives and ask yourself if you personally should spit out of your mouth something Christ's blood has purchased.