Comment to 'Ekklesia vs Church: This ain't That.'
  • Hi Jesse,

    Thank you so much for your comments. I haven't had time to fully digest them, so I can't say with any certainty that I agree with them completely. There is certainly food for thought. I do, however, have a couple of comments to make based on my initial reading of your post...

    First, my preferred Bible translation is the Young's Literal Translation (YLT). I've verified that it indeed translates ekklesia as "assembly" as you suggest. But it does so much more than just that. For example, as I have noted previously on these pages, it uses the phrase "reign of God" in place of "kingdom of God" (e.g. Matt 6:33), which I believe more accurately describes what God has brought about under His Messiah. It's the idea of God being at the center of all things rather than God being ascribed to a physical location (e.g . a church building). Also, and perhaps most importantly, the YLT preserves the passive voice of the original Greek. Most English Bible translations translate Scripture into an active voice, thereby making man the center of the activity. For example, the ESV translates John 3:16 as "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" whereas the YLT translates it as "for God did so love the world, that His Son -- the only begotten -- He gave, that every one who is believing in him may not perish, but may have life age-during". The change in phrasing from "whoever believes in him" to "everyone who is believing in him" puts God rightfully back at the center of salvation.

    As for your comment about despising the word "church", my concern is more focused on what the assembly has become, regardless of what name we use for it. Much of what the assembly is today is not reflected in the pages of Scripture. And I'm not talking about playing drums during the church service. Many practices that I see taking place in our assemblies do not mirror the Biblical narrative. For example, at what point do we see assemblies operating on Robert's Rules and run by majority opinion? Unity of believers is a key concept in the New Testament (1 Cor 1:10-17). Where in Scripture are church leaders allowed to deny Communion to penitent believers? Where is God's command to rest on the first day of the week? Or for churches to have membership? I find the last question to be particularly important, since church membership is extremely damaging to the assembly as a whole. In Ex 20:10, God commands rest for everyone, including the "sojourner who is within thy gates". Yet virtually every Christian leader (Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant) who claims that they are the spiritual descendants of Peter in Matt 16:18 will tell you that their responsibility to the assembly lies only with members of their church. How can it be that a Christian's only true responsibility is toward those who contribute to their salaries and their buildings, and who agree with their theological leanings? God clearly has concern for those outside of the local tribe, yet our assemblies operate to the contrary.

    To close out what has already become a long thread, I think that your point, Jesse, is that our Bible translations co-opt words for use with their own agendas. On this point I think that we can agree. But I would take your premise one step further to say that God's truth may still be gleaned from the pages of Scripture despite the poor translations that are generally most widely used. I've only recently become a seventh day Sabbatarian because all of the Scripture that I've read previously, regardless of translation, tells me that the Sabbath is on the seventh day. The reason that I spent almost 60 years believing that Sunday was the Sabbath is that I never questioned the authority that told me that it was. It was not until my former church literally kicked me out a few years back for questioning their authority which appeared to place Christ in subject to church leadership that things changed. It was God who opened my eyes to the truth that the church follows cultural conventions nearly as much as it follows Scripture. There is no doubt in my mind that God is still at work in many of the churches today and that many are saved because of it. It's just that we deprive ourselves of experiencing him as we should through our own sinful actions. May we all hope and pray that God will show us His reign as we seek to do His will.