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« Hebrew Corner 12: Cain's Sacrifice by John H. Walton | Main | James 5 (Commentary and Discussion with Craig L. Blomberg »


that is very true. but when one refuses to go to church on sundays, it does not mean automatically that that one has a community of called-out believers. To say that the answer "go to church on sundays" is not necessarily right does not itself give an answer; it just shows that the answer isn't always right. but it's important to actually give an alternative answer in order to make things better. In your opinion, what would a better answer than "going to church?"

If we did a word study on ekklesia and its uses, wouldn't we find that, more often than not, it refers to particular local body of believers, not the "universal" church or those that happened to meet on a particular day?

You acknowledged the need for the biblical offices of elder and deacon, and this would seem to imply that a church, properly constituted, would involve a particular group of believers under their shepherding and care. This seems to conflict with your assertion of church as any gathering of believers.

The emphasis on the concept of community versus institution is good, but can sometimes be misleading. How can someone say they are truly part of a community without the recognition of that community as actually being a member, rather than just a person who is an interested party? Just showing up doesn't make you part of a church.

Therein lies the irony. You seem to want to ignore institutional elements such as membership and discipline, and instead, to emphasize the gathering. By so doing, you make the event of church more significant than the covenant relationship of community that are recognized through profession of faith and mutual commitment.

I'm glad to join you in the fight against institutionalism in churches, but we cannot leave structure and organization for an expression of community that is not defined by public profession of faith in Christ, limited by faithfulness to Christ, and shepherded by duly appointed leaders.

I notice that the sacraments are absent from all of Mounce's definitions of "church." I agree with him that the next battles will be ecclesiological, but it seems to me that we are doomed to poor ecclesiology if we don't recognize the importance of not just preaching and koinonia and mission, but also the action of God through the sacraments. Certainly, if someone has been wounded by a "spiritual shopping mall," she should not attend another one for her healing. But the Eucharist would certainly be healing . . . and no one else is offering it but the Church.

(Not that I think the Eucharist is magic, but I do believe that God acts through the sacraments in ways that we cannot fathom.)

In his Jewish New Testament, David Stein renders ekklesia as 'Messianic community'. I like it very much. In plural forms, it is 'congregations', but in Mt 16:18, it is simply '(will build) my Community'. [I prefer 'my living Community' in this text.]

Do we have to include sacraments in its definition, which itself is not found in the Bible? A definition should cover only the core concept to serve its purpose (being all encompassing), otherwise it is just another encyclopedic descriptive definition. (Actually I don't have clear a definition on 'sacrament' itself. I have often encountered 'sacrament' and 'sacramental' in writings by the Catholic authors.)

This is just one example of the problem of definition. One can define words in many different ways. Should we define it as a biblical word or as a religious term? From Catholic or Protestant POV? etc.

Is Ekklesia being of those 'being called out' an example of etymological fallacy? It might be rather an example of folk etymology or word play.

Many contemporary (as opposed to traditional) churches have small groups that fulfill many of the objectives that you list that are missing in the Sunday morning assembly. These usually meet weekly in homes fulfilling the second half of the Acts 2 community.

So, what is a trained organist supposed to do? This instrument takes physical coordination, training in tone-shading to emphasize mood and thought of well known-words. It was never meant to put emphasis on the person playing it so that attention would be drawn upward instead of a person. People who do not understand the skill required to sufficiently serve the Lord and point the listener upward ahead of the pastors sermon and keep people's mind going toward the pastor's main point each week. A honed musician will know appropriateness of word and thought whereas the drummer only knows how to pound. His inexperience shows the interest in his ability to everyone. The danger with this is ego gets in the way. An organist can do the same thing and use the instrument almost like a weapon. God is not in this type of thing. I've seen music programs collapse after awhile due to the ego of a drummer or guitarist as it is all about them. But what is a seasoned and good organist supposed to do....die along with the instrument?

I agree with most of what you have written but I do believe that in the process of directing people to a more true understanding of the church we have to be careful not to lead them into a overly critical perspective of those who gather in the name of Christ.
in this article you stated:
"What happens Sunday morning is not necessarily the church and should never be equated with the church. The church is the community of believers who meet together, regularly and irregularly, to love one another, care for one another, carry one another’s burdens, stir up one another to love and good works, confess their sins to one another."

i believe that, though this may be true in many cases, this statement has is very contradictory. While Sunday meetings do not define "Church" in it's entirety, it is still an integral part of my connection to Christ's Church. It is a place where those in attendance can be "stirred up to love and good works" and a place where we connect with others to "confess our sins," Which is part of your definition of what the "true church" is. I like much of what is said here, but I do think we need to be careful. It is important to make sure what we say is pointing people towards positive change and not unintentionally exaggerating distrust within the Church.

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