House Church Talk - Echoes from a battlefield in Pennsylvania

David Anderson david at
Wed Nov 19 12:27:45 EST 2003

   Hi one and all,

Today is the anniversary of the Gettysburg address. Lincoln predicted 
that it would be forgotten but things turned out otherwise. Some believe 
it to be the speech of all speeches. Some of you likely memorized it 
years ago.

A nation dedicated to the proposition that all men (mankind) are created 
equal - I like that much. Now, how about a church dedicated to the 
proposition that all men (mankind) are created equal? 

Now, a word from John Milton:

And this all Christians ought to know, that the title of clergy St. Peter 
gave to all God's people, till Pope Higinus and the succeeding prelates 
took it from them, appropriating that name to themselves and their 
priests only; and condemning the rest of God's inheritance to an 
injurious and alienate condition of laity, they separated from them by 
local partitions in churches, through their gross ignorance and pride 
imitating the old temple, and excluded the members of Christ...

For we have learned that the scornful term of laic, the consecrating of 
temples, carpets, and tablecloths, the railing in of a repugnant and 
contradictive mount Sinai in the gospel, as if the touch of a lay 
Christian, who is nevertheless God's living temple, could profane dead 
Judaisms, the exclusion of Christ's people from the offices of holy 
discipline through the pride of a usurping clergy causes the rest to have 
an unworthy and abject opinion of themselves, to approach to holy duties 
with a slavish fear and to unholy doings with a familiar boldness. For 
seeing such a wide and terrible distance between religious things and 
themselves, and that in respect of a wooden table and the perimeter of 
holy ground about it, a flagon pot and a linen corporal, the priest 
esteems their layships unhallowed and unclean, they fear religion with 
such a fear as loves not, and think the purity of the gospel too pure for 
them, and that any uncleanness is more suitable to their unconsecrated 

BUT when every good Christian, thoroughly acquainted with all those 
glorious privileges of sanctification and adoption which render him more 
sacred than any dedicated altar or element, shall be restored to his 
right in the church, and not excluded from such place of spiritual 
governments his Christian abilities and his approved good life in the eye 
and testimony of the church shall prefer him to, this and nothing sooner 
will open his eyes to a wise and true valuation of himself, which is so 
requisite and high a point of Christianity, and will stir him up to walk 
worthy the honorable and grave employment wherewith God and the church 
hath dignified him; not fearing lest he should meet with some outward 
holy thing in religion which his lay touch or presence might profane, but 
lest something unholy from within his own heart should dishonor and 
profane in himself that priestly unction and clergy-right whereto Christ 
hath entitled him. 

Then would the congregation of the Lord soon recover the true likeness 
and visage of what she is indeed, a holy generation, a royal priesthood, 
a saintly communion, the household and city of God. And this I hold to be 
another considerable reason why the functions of church government ought 
to be free and open to any Christian man, though never so laic, if his 
capacity, his faith, and prudent demeanor commend him. And this the 
apostles warrant us to do. But the prelates object that this will bring 
profaneness into the church; to whom may be replied that none have 
brought that in more than their own irreligious courses, nor more driven 
holiness out of living into lifeless things.

>From "The Reason of Church Government," 1642. Milton was an English poet 
and scholar who is best known for the epic poem Paradise Lost (1667). The 
language is old but the truth is as fresh as the morning dew.

     David Anderson

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