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Coming out?

Believers have been “coming out” of the “institutional church” for centuries only to become part of the same “institutional church” in no time. Liberals blame “society” for all their problems and conservatives do the same thing by blaming the church as an “institution”. The problem with the “institutional church” is that it is made of people who have a bent toward sinning and the church ditched the idea of excommunication long ago. And when people break away from the institutional church to form a new fellowship, excommunication is still abhorrent and in no time this new fellowship is displaying the same problems as the group they broke off from. The only difference is that there is one more new division and a lot of hurt feelings on both sides. And additionally, each new emerging group develops its own “distinctive” doctrines further splintering the body of Christ and further fueling the hunger for overlooking doctrinal divergence in order to achieve unity, a false unity based on convenience and not on truly seeking the purity of truth and the centrality of the Gospel of Christ. 

Leaving the corrupted church and starting a new one is the easy way out and has no basis in scripture. The Book of Acts records numerous disputes in the church, doctrinal and otherwise, and there was never an appeal from the apostles to “come out” and create a new church. With all the corruption in the Corinthian church, where is the appeal from Paul to leave and start a new church? This whole concept is part of a post reformational trend whereby the answer to all problems is not to fight for the gospel recognizing that we battle against principalities and powers, but rather to stomp off and attempt to start our own little group. 

For centuries the church was one church. It wasn’t perfect, but there was a unity to it. Now, it is splintered into a gazzilion pieces, all in search of perfection, and it is still just as far from perfect, if not more so. What have we achieved? I would say very little, and the price has been steep. Where are the modern day Paul’s who can remain in communion with a screwed up church, but not sacrifice their own integrity in the process? There is simply no way that I would participate in starting yet another church. There are too many existing congregations around that have far fewer problems than the Corinthian church had and I will seek one of them out and try to allow my very presence to make it a better place in every way possible. That is why God put us here, to be redemptive and corrective, not to be divisive and judgmental.

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Replies (5)
  • You make many good points, George. 

    Two or three gathered in his name. Christ is in their midst. Is this a church?

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    • Hi Tommy. I don’t know how one can read the scripture and conclude that two or three can be a functioning church. The bible, as you know, illustrates the church by way of the “body” where each “member” has a unique and important function. You are not going to get all of that out of “two or three”. The bible also speaks of a multitude of gifts that are necessary for a healthy church. That is not going to happen with “two or three”. And then there are a multitude of roles ie prophet, teacher, evangelist, etc. Again, not likely to happen with “two or three”. And then there are the offices, Elders, Deacons, etc. The concept of a church of “two or three” also doesn’t fit with the historical record very well. 

      I think it is a very dangerous trend in the modern church to gravitate toward “Since I can’t find enough people I can get along with, I’ll settle for “two or three”. Actually only one necessary (me), since with Christ in the midst, that makes two. The wicked rulers in this world would love to settle for two or three makes a church, it would justify Islamic and Communist countries shutting down all of the corrupt attempts at Christian “organized religion” and providing religious freedom for Christians as a “biblical” two or three solution. 

      This whole argument is the epitome of the attack on the institutional church which is just another example of the lawlessness in the world today. When the scripture warns against resisting the powers (for all the powers are of God), that includes the visible church as much as it includes the visible government. The government of Jesus day (Rome) was debauched and corrupted and yet God put His stamp of approval on it and backed it with His authority. So it is today with the governments of this world AND the church powers of this world. Men, especially Christians, ought to approach these with fear, but they don’t because they themselves have a major spiritual problem that they are attempting to hide behind self righteousness.

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      • Hi all. Good things here to read and consider. Let me add that the scripture makes no regulation about the number of a church - it's members or leaders. Nor is there a timeline given to reach a certain size or to elect leaders. This process could take years.

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        • True, I don’t think scripture really tries to define the size of a congregation, but it does very strongly imply order, structure and unity. I don’t see how that can be accomplished with simply two or three. For sure, where ever two or three believers are, the church is there, and, as a matter of fact, where ever one believer is, the church is there, but, like the bodies we dwell in, so the church dwells in a physical body which is the institution or organization. 

          Just as we live in bodies damaged by the fall, so the institutions in which we find the church are imperfect and marred by sin. And just as some wish to disown their flesh put on a spiritual body now, others wish to disown the structure of the church, the earthly Jerusalem, and create a Heavenly one now. But that is not going to happen until Christ returns. Thus we remain pilgrims awaiting our King’s return. In the mean time we need to put aside petty issues and try to find a place where we can grow spiritually and be a blessing. 

          If someone feels a call from God to start a new church, I am not going to fault that. Neither am I going to fault someone who’s conscience is troubled by the sorts of evil things their church might be engaged in to the point that they leave and join another congregation. But the constant desire to escape from “organized religion” troubles me greatly because the pattern set in the New Testament itself shows order, authority, complexity, all the traits that these people are trying to avoid in the name of finding true fellowship. I think they are fooling themselves in this regard.

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          • Hi, I am new here. I enjoy reading your views

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