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Elements Of The True Church?


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You continue to use Koester as your one of your authorities on the New Testament Church and I'll continue to use the New Testament itself as my authority. Reading the New Testament, as opposed to Koester, it's obvious there was one true church of Christ under the leadership of the Apostles, and those outside of that authority were not part of the unified body of Christ.

 

Perhaps you can point me to a scholar that affirms your reading of the early Christian church.  It isn't obvious that there was One True Church. To wit,

 

The earliest forms of the Jesus movement then are probably small, sectarian groups. At least one of them seems to be based in Jerusalem but there may be others as well spread throughout the countryside. In all probability there's at least one or more in the Galilee as well. So we have to think of the earliest days of the Jesus movement as really small pockets of sectarian activity all focused on this identity of Jesus as the Messiah.

 

The Jesus movement is a sect. How do sects behave? One of the things they have to do is, they have to distance themselves from their dominant cultural environment. A sect always arises within a community with whom it shares a basic set of beliefs and yet, it needs to find some mechanism for differentiating itself. So, sectarian groups are always in tension with their environment. That tension is manifested in a variety of ways - controversies over belief and practice; different ideas of purity and piety. But, another manifestation of that tension is the tendency to want to spread the message out, to hit the road and convince others that the truth is real.

  • L. Michael White

The historical reality is probably much more complex. The Christian movement probably began not from a single center but from many different centers where different groups of disciples of Jesus gathered and tried to make sense of what they had experienced with him and what had happened to him at the end of his public ministry. Each of those groups probably had a very different take on what the significance of Jesus was.

  • Harold Attridge

We really can't imagine Christianity as a unified coherent religious movement. Certainly there were some religious organizations.... There were institutions developing in some Christian churches, but only in some. And this was not universal by any means.

  • Holland Lee Hendrix

So, it is clear from the very beginning of Christianity, that there are different ways of interpreting the fundamental message. There are different kinds of practice; there are arguments over how Jewish are we to be; how Greek are we to be; how do we adapt to the surrounding culture - what is the real meaning of the death of Jesus, how important is the death of Jesus? Maybe it's the sayings of Jesus that are really the important thing and not his death and not his resurrection.

 

Now, this runs very contrary to the view... which the mainstream Christianity has always quite understandably wanted to convey. That is, that at the beginning, everything was unity, everything was clear, everything was understandable and only gradually, under outside influences, heresies arose and conflict resulted, so that we must get back somehow to that Golden Age, when everything was okay. One of the most difficult things which has emerged from modern historical scholarship, is precisely that that Golden Age eludes us. The harder we work to try to arrive at that first place where Christianity, were all one and everything was clear, the more it... seems a will-o'- the-wisp. There never was this pure Christianity, different from everybody else and clear, in its contours....

  • Wayne Meeks
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Gervin, what you state is true. Early Christianity was never a truly united movement. The existence of various groups adhering to Marcionistic, Gnostic, Judaic, Proto-Orthodox, or Hellenistic views of God, Christ and the Gospel message is evidence enough.

What I would argue though is that the apostles did attempt communion among these various peoples, cultures, and beliefs. Though Paul clashed with the original twelve on various points, he attempts the collection for the poor of Jerusalem in order to strengthen the ties between his Gentile cults, and the Jewish-Christian one of Jerusalem. Peter visits with the Antiochian cult, even breaking kosher law, to try and bring unity between them and Jerusalem. James the Just heads the Jerusalem conference to try and establish "How Jewish do you have to be to also be Christian" and decides that the Hellenistic Christians need not follow Jewish law.

What we also see is some rebellion against this unity. Those claiming to follow James and Peter attempt to incite the Galatians Gentile cult to follow Torah law. Simon Magus apparently draws some followers away to Gnostic teachings. Diotrephes, who loved "preeminence", starts excommunicating those followers who try and heed the apostles.

While Early Christianity was clearly a mixed bag, spread out, and not unified, it is not incorrect to say that the apostles immediately after Jesus attempted communion and unification. It was with their death, the rebellion of some, and the geographical and cultural constraints that these already loose ties became irreconcilably cut.

Source: Early Christianity minor from University of Toronto.

Edited by halconero
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James the Just heads the Jerusalem conference to try and establish "How Jewish do you have to be to also be Christian" and decides that the Hellenistic Christians need not follow Jewish law.

 

 

The first Ecumenical Council -- the Council of Jerusalem.

 

"Continuing Revelation" in the Catholic Church led to 21 Ecumenical Councils to clarify and unify what the Apostles had taught and been taught :)

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The first Ecumenical Council -- the Council of Jerusalem.

 

"Continuing Revelation" in the Catholic Church led to 21 Ecumenical Councils to clarify and unify what the Apostles had taught and been taught :)

 

Yeah, it's part of the reason why I've become more sympathetic to Catholics and Orthodox over the past few years. I've come to understand their view that they themselves believe that they have the apostolic authority in their churches and their councils. While I don't agree with it (that's an entire thread entirely), I do understand it.

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1 During New Testament times, do you believe there were any negative consequences whatsoever for a professed believer in Christ to reject the leaders of the Church as living Apostles and Prophets?

 

2. Remember you said New Testament era believers could reject that part of the Bible wherein Peter received a revelation from God to extend the Gospel to the Gentiles and still be in full faith and fellowship with Christ (i.e. good standing). So since the entire New Testament was written by Prophets and Apostles, and not written personally by the hand of the Lord Himself, do you believe a believer in Christ can reject the entire New Testament and still find salvation in the kingdom of heaven?

 

3 Do you believe it would have been possible for a New Testament era believer in Christ to rejected every single revelation from God given to the living Apostles and Prophets and still be equally as blessed as a believer in Christ of that day who did believe and obey the revelations of God given to the Apostles and Prophets?

 

4. Do you believe God would be at all disappointed in a New Testament period believer in Christ who continued to believe in Christ but who wholly rejected the leadership and revelations of the living Apostles and Prophets of that day?

 

I'm going to assume that since you didn't answer my question that you don't have a NT source for the phrase, "a member of the Lord's Church."

 

 

As for your questions:

 

1) Are there any negative consequences to rejecting leaders as living Apostles and Prophets? As opposed to what? Dead Apostles and Prophets? The question is answered by Paul when he said, "12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.

13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?" (1 Cor.)

 

Notice that Paul is not concerned with which Apostle people claim to follow, but rather emphasizes that Christ alone is who they should be following. Are there negative consequences to rejecting leaders? No. Only rejection of Christ has negative consequences. 

 

2) Can a person reject the entire NT and still find salvation? I would say that the principles of salvation taught in the NT are universal, so generally speaking yes, a person could reject parts due to ignorance and still remain saved. Could they reject all the principles taught? I don't think so, some are very fundamental, like I said, the fruits of the spirit and truth. 

 

3) I don't know why you ask a question like this. Every single revelation from God? Seems obvious that if someone rejected every single revelation from God they wouldn't be as blessed as one who checked and see if they are from God or not, as the Bereans did. 

 

4) God's not disappointed in us ever. Disappointment results from an expectation not met. God doesn't have unmet expectations because he already knows all things. He knows us and our frailties which is why our salvation doesn't depend on our strength or ability to meet his expectations. When we sin, he is faithful and just and forgives us. That power of forgiveness changes us. 

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Perhaps you can point me to a scholar that affirms your reading of the early Christian church.  It isn't obvious that there was One True Church. To wit,

 

The earliest forms of the Jesus movement then are probably small, sectarian groups. At least one of them seems to be based in Jerusalem but there may be others as well spread throughout the countryside. In all probability there's at least one or more in the Galilee as well. So we have to think of the earliest days of the Jesus movement as really small pockets of sectarian activity all focused on this identity of Jesus as the Messiah.

 

The Jesus movement is a sect. How do sects behave? One of the things they have to do is, they have to distance themselves from their dominant cultural environment. A sect always arises within a community with whom it shares a basic set of beliefs and yet, it needs to find some mechanism for differentiating itself. So, sectarian groups are always in tension with their environment. That tension is manifested in a variety of ways - controversies over belief and practice; different ideas of purity and piety. But, another manifestation of that tension is the tendency to want to spread the message out, to hit the road and convince others that the truth is real.

  • L. Michael White

The historical reality is probably much more complex. The Christian movement probably began not from a single center but from many different centers where different groups of disciples of Jesus gathered and tried to make sense of what they had experienced with him and what had happened to him at the end of his public ministry. Each of those groups probably had a very different take on what the significance of Jesus was.

  • Harold Attridge

We really can't imagine Christianity as a unified coherent religious movement. Certainly there were some religious organizations.... There were institutions developing in some Christian churches, but only in some. And this was not universal by any means.

  • Holland Lee Hendrix

So, it is clear from the very beginning of Christianity, that there are different ways of interpreting the fundamental message. There are different kinds of practice; there are arguments over how Jewish are we to be; how Greek are we to be; how do we adapt to the surrounding culture - what is the real meaning of the death of Jesus, how important is the death of Jesus? Maybe it's the sayings of Jesus that are really the important thing and not his death and not his resurrection.

 

Now, this runs very contrary to the view... which the mainstream Christianity has always quite understandably wanted to convey. That is, that at the beginning, everything was unity, everything was clear, everything was understandable and only gradually, under outside influences, heresies arose and conflict resulted, so that we must get back somehow to that Golden Age, when everything was okay. One of the most difficult things which has emerged from modern historical scholarship, is precisely that that Golden Age eludes us. The harder we work to try to arrive at that first place where Christianity, were all one and everything was clear, the more it... seems a will-o'- the-wisp. There never was this pure Christianity, different from everybody else and clear, in its contours....

  • Wayne Meeks

 

Ephesians 4

 

 

1I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, 2With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

7But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.

8Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.

9(Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

Living as Children of Light

17This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: 19Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20But ye have not so learned Christ; 21If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

 

25Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.

How do your comments square with that scripture?

 

They don't.

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Ephesians 4

 

How do your comments square with that scripture?

 

They don't.

For my answer as to how my comments square with scripture, I'd say that they square nicely.  The entire epistle shows a high Christology and these passages point to a focus on Christ, not adherence to a one true church.  This isn't Paul, under arrest in Rome and writing to (most likely) all of the churches in Ephesus, providing instruction for adherence to the one true church.  It's encouragement and admonition to stay focused on Christ.  I think it's important scripture for disavowing any notion that there was a unified and one true church that Paul was preaching.  His message was Christ crucified and risen.

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 I think it's important scripture for disavowing any notion that there was a unified and one true church that Paul was preaching.  His message was Christ crucified and risen.

I cannot imagine how you get that interpretation but just know that you hereby affirm the truth that there are no facts, just interpretations.

 

You are about as far from the text as I can imagine, but hey we all have to do what we need to do to keep cognitive dissonance in check.

 

13Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

That is not REALLY about unity of the faith and unity of doctrine,

 

Got it.

Edited by mfbukowski
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For my answer as to how my comments square with scripture, I'd say that they square nicely.  The entire epistle shows a high Christology and these passages point to a focus on Christ, not adherence to a one true church.  This isn't Paul, under arrest in Rome and writing to (most likely) all of the churches in Ephesus, providing instruction for adherence to the one true church.  It's encouragement and admonition to stay focused on Christ.  I think it's important scripture for disavowing any notion that there was a unified and one true church that Paul was preaching.  His message was Christ crucified and risen.

 

There are much better indications that the apostles attempted united communion with all the various Christians. I've listed them above, but the greatest in-text evidence includes Paul's collection for the poor of Jerusalem (which has a deeper social meaning in Greco-Roman society than ours), the Jerusalem Council, and Peter's ministry among the Gentile Jesus cult of Antioch.

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I'm going to assume that since you didn't answer my question that you don't have a NT source for the phrase, "a member of the Lord's Church."

 

 

As for your questions:

 

1) Are there any negative consequences to rejecting leaders as living Apostles and Prophets? As opposed to what? Dead Apostles and Prophets? The question is answered by Paul when he said, "12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.

13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?" (1 Cor.)

 

Notice that Paul is not concerned with which Apostle people claim to follow, but rather emphasizes that Christ alone is who they should be following. Are there negative consequences to rejecting leaders? No. Only rejection of Christ has negative consequences. 

 

2) Can a person reject the entire NT and still find salvation? I would say that the principles of salvation taught in the NT are universal, so generally speaking yes, a person could reject parts due to ignorance and still remain saved. Could they reject all the principles taught? I don't think so, some are very fundamental, like I said, the fruits of the spirit and truth. 

 

3) I don't know why you ask a question like this. Every single revelation from God? Seems obvious that if someone rejected every single revelation from God they wouldn't be as blessed as one who checked and see if they are from God or not, as the Bereans did. 

 

4) God's not disappointed in us ever. Disappointment results from an expectation not met. God doesn't have unmet expectations because he already knows all things. He knows us and our frailties which is why our salvation doesn't depend on our strength or ability to meet his expectations. When we sin, he is faithful and just and forgives us. That power of forgiveness changes us.

The Apostle Paul was upbraiding the Church at Corinth for the practice some members there were making of choosing some Church leaders preferentially over other Church leaders. By the commandment of the Lord Himself, the body of Christ is supposed to always strive to be perfectly unified in all things, and therefore the practice of picking favorite Church leaders, while diminishing others, is against the Lord's commandment that His followers be of one heart and mind. In fact, what Paul is decrying in these verses is the very "pick and chose whomever and whatever you like" approach to the Gospel you seem to endorse. See for yourself,

10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing,and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.

12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.

13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?(1 Cor 1)

 

The above is a flat out condemnation (in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ no less) of the state of mind that says "I'll reject whatever it is the Apostles and Prophets say that I don't like or agree with and I'll still be right with the Lord." What Paul is endorsing in these verses is a Church in which all the duly authorized Apostles and Prophets are equally revered and sustained my the Church membership. When he says, "is Christ divided," it is clear he is speaking of the body of Christ -- meaning the Church.

12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.

13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

14 For the body is not one member, but many.

15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?

18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.

19 And if they were all one member, where were the body.

20 But now are they many members, yet but one body. (1 Cor 12)

 

And again,

25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.

26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.

27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

28 And God hath set some in the church (body of Christ), first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

 

Based on Paul's readily understandable meaning in the above verses, it's impossible to imagine he was simultaneously endorsing your ""pick and chose whomever and whatever you like" gospel approach. 

 

I'm also interested to know why so many Evangelical Christians accept the Bible as the literal word of God when, except for the ten commandments, not a single word of the Bible was written by the hand of God Himself? If the words of the Apostles and Prophets are non-essential to salvation, why do so many Evangelicals place so much critical importance on believing in the Bible? After all, the first person teachings and testimonies of Christ found in the Bible were written by the very men whose words you say need not be followed. All the quotations of Christ in the Bible are recollections of men who knew Him; they were not written by Christ himself, yet they are treated as if they are firsthand accounts written by the hand of the Lord Himself. Why?

Edited by teddyaware
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The Apostle Paul was upbraiding the Church at Corinth for the practice some members there were making of choosing some Church leaders preferentially over other Church leaders. By the commandment of the Lord Himself, the body of Christ is supposed to always strive to be perfectly unified in all things, and therefore the practice of picking favorite Church leaders, while diminishing others, is against the Lord's commandment that His followers be of one heart and mind. In fact, what Paul is decrying in these verses is the very "pick and chose whomever and whatever you like" approach to the Gospel you seem to endorse. See for yourself,

10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing,and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.

12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.

13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?(1 Cor 1)

 

The above is a flat out condemnation (in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ no less) of the state of mind that says "I'll reject whatever it is the Apostles and Prophets say that I don't like or agree with and I'll still be right with the Lord." What Paul is endorsing in these verses is a Church in which all the duly authorized Apostles and Prophets are equally revered and sustained my the Church membership. When he says, "is Christ divided," it is clear he is speaking of the body of Christ -- meaning the Church.

12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.

13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

14 For the body is not one member, but many.

15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?

18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.

19 And if they were all one member, where were the body.

20 But now are they many members, yet but one body. (1 Cor 12)

 

And again,

25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.

26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.

27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

28 And God hath set some in the church (body of Christ), first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

 

Based on Paul's readily understandable meaning in the above verses, it's impossible to imagine he was simultaneously endorsing your ""pick and chose whomever and whatever you like" gospel approach. 

 

I'm also interested to know why so many Evangelical Christians accept the Bible as the literal word of God when, except for the ten commandments, not a single word of the Bible was written by the hand of God Himself? If the words of the Apostles and Prophets are non-essential to salvation, why do so many Evangelicals place so much critical importance on believing in the Bible? After all, the first person teachings and testimonies of Christ found in the Bible were written by the very men whose words you say need not be followed. All the quotations of Christ in the Bible are recollections of men who knew Him; they were not written by Christ himself, yet they are treated as if they are firsthand accounts written by the hand of the Lord Himself. Why?

 

 

In answering your question, is there a consequence to rejecting leaders? I said no and I stated that Paul was making a point that we should follow Christ alone, not any one teacher. That we only suffer negative consequences when we reject Christ. 

You called my view, "the pick and chose whomever and whatever you like" approach. And stated that Paul was decrying it. 
 
Paul was preaching unity. I agree with this. However, unity isn't what saves us, Christ does. You changed the subject then attacked me, using my answer as if I was talking about unity. You asked about salvation not unity. 
 
As for your question about the word of God. 
 
Evangelicals believe that all of God's word is literally "God Breathed". You want to criticize this, that's fine, and again, you use my extreme example (in response to your extreme question), in an attempt to paint me into a corner. I never said that the writings don't need to be followed. In fact, I stated that the principles contained are critical to leading us to Christ. 
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There are much better indications that the apostles attempted united communion with all the various Christians.

 

You mentioned that in an earlier post and would be interested in reading your reference.  

I wonder about the practical application of church rule for, say, a church in Rome that Paul knew not how it was founded. 

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I cannot imagine how you get that interpretation but just know that you hereby affirm the truth that there are no facts, just interpretations.

 

You are about as far from the text as I can imagine, but hey we all have to do what we need to do to keep cognitive dissonance in check.

 

That is not REALLY about unity of the faith and unity of doctrine,

 

Got it.

 

I'm not sure how much stock you put in Paul's epistle believing, as you do, that the Bible is mostly legend, but a letter to the house churches in the area of Ephesus would have been a good opportunity to stress for the Unity of the Church.  Why did he keep choosing to say, instead, unity of the Spirit?  Because he wasn't talking about a system of unity - Indian philosophy and idealism are systems of unity - Christianity is a system of communion.  Unity is an important element in Christ's teaching (and prayer) but Paul isn't playing a church card in these verses.

 

added/ I think the diversity of the early church actually solidified its ascent; it was thankfully not weighed down with conforming to legalistic structures.  The growth was explosive and, thankfully, diverse in culture, background, and beliefs.  They found unity in the Spirit.

Edited by Gervin
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In answering your question, is there a consequence to rejecting leaders? I said no and I stated that Paul was making a point that we should follow Christ alone, not any one teacher. That we only suffer negative consequences when we reject Christ. 

You called my view, "the pick and chose whomever and whatever you like" approach. And stated that Paul was decrying it. 

 

Paul was preaching unity. I agree with this. However, unity isn't what saves us, Christ does. You changed the subject then attacked me, using my answer as if I was talking about unity. You asked about salvation not unity. 

 

As for your question about the word of God. 

 

Evangelicals believe that all of God's word is literally "God Breathed". You want to criticize this, that's fine, and again, you use my extreme example (in response to your extreme question), in an attempt to paint me into a corner. I never said that the writings don't need to be followed. In fact, I stated that the principles contained are critical to leading us to Christ.

 

You're trying to have it both ways: You minimize the importance of Apostles and Prophets, saying they can be disobeyed impunity and without consequence, while you simultaneously say their "God Breathed" writings are critical and must be followed in order to come unto Christ. So which one of these positions is the correct one? Can we disobey the inspired counsel of God's Apostles and Prophets without consequence, or must we follow their inspired counsel in order come unto Christ and be saved. And please don't tell me both of these positions are correct.

Edited by teddyaware
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I'm not sure how much stock you put in Paul's epistle believing, as you do, that the Bible is mostly legend, but a letter to the house churches in the area of Ephesus would have been a good opportunity to stress for the Unity of the Church.  Why did he keep choosing to say, instead, unity of the Spirit?  Because he wasn't talking about a system of unity - Indian philosophy and idealism are systems of unity - Christianity is a system of communion.  Unity is an important element in Christ's teaching (and prayer) but Paul isn't playing a church card in these verses.

 

added/ I think the diversity of the early church actually solidified its ascent; it was thankfully not weighed down with conforming to legalistic structures.  The growth was explosive and, thankfully, diverse in culture, background, and beliefs.  They found unity in the Spirit.

Be that as it may, it is clearly your interpretation which is the only point I want to make.  It is a private interpretation of scripture.

 

And for the record I personally spiritually know the Bible is true and take many things literally.

 

The difference between me and fundamentalists however is that I know that my testimony is not based on reason one iota.  Faith matters cannot possibly be based on alleged factual information or they would not be matters of faith.

 

EV's often say they are saved by faith, and then require the bible to be literally scientifically true.  That position, I find to be absurd.  THAT is not faith, it is bad science.

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Be that as it may, it is clearly your interpretation which is the only point I want to make.  It is a private interpretation of scripture.

 

And for the record I personally spiritually know the Bible is true and take many things literally.

 

The difference between me and fundamentalists however is that I know that my testimony is not based on reason one iota.  Faith matters cannot possibly be based on alleged factual information or they would not be matters of faith.

 

EV's often say they are saved by faith, and then require the bible to be literally scientifically true.  That position, I find to be absurd.  THAT is not faith, it is bad science.

The "mostly legend" part was a quote of yours (or maybe whyme - i get you two confused).

Your assertions are oddly defensive and ridiculous in their breadth (are you really able to cast such a confident distinction between yourself and all fundamentalists - whatever that means - and "EVs?").  I'm interested in your sample size.

Edited by Gervin
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You mentioned that in an earlier post and would be interested in reading your reference.  

I wonder about the practical application of church rule for, say, a church in Rome that Paul knew not how it was founded. 

 

For sure! I pull from a couple of them, some of them are in book form and others in online articles. One of the online articles is available through the jstor database, but its free to make an account and is a wonderful resource for accessing journals, books and articles on every topic in academia:

 

Paul as benefactor: reciprocity, strategy and theological reflection in Paul's collection:

http://books.google.ca/books?hl=en&lr=&id=ZK5DVs29JEIC&oi=fnd&pg=PR7&dq=Paul%27s+collection+bible&ots=-eobMaguX1&sig=PYID3h2oTeJuEQ7m7QpUUYEsViQ#v=onepage&q=Paul's%20collection%20bible&f=false

 

The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings 5th Ed, Ehrman, Bart. (2012) Oxford University Press, New York.

 

Against Heresies, Irenaeus http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0103.htm

 

Contra Celsum, Origin

 

-------------------------

 

My argument is not that Early Christianity was not an undivided, unified, doctrinally homogeneous group. It most definitely was not. My argument is that the early apostles, including the obstinate Paul (who clashed with the Jerusalem apostles frequently), attempted to maintain communion among the believers. That this was not possible due to preexisting bias, geographical distribution, antique communication methods, and rebellion against the apostle's authority is evident.

 

I'll start with Paul's collection for the poor:

 

To understand the social significance of this you have to understand the Greco-Roman notions of reciprocity, patronage, and beneficiaries. Perhaps the best modern portrayal of the patron-client relationship in modern times is the scene in the Godfather where people come to the Corleone wedding. They meet the Don, congratulate him, praise the family, and bring small gifts. In return the Don gives them promises of protection, financial aid, etc.

 

This is reflective of attitudes in Paul's era. The patron (which could included individuals, governments, or groups) provided aid and favour to a client (made up of the same diverse entities) in return for praise and loyalty. This relationship was seen as sacred and inviolable. It was even extended to relationships between mortals and deities (ex: Athena as the patron goddess of Athens, who glorified her, built statues to her, and sacrificed to her in return for divine protection and wisdom). On a side note, this is how Paul portrays Jesus' and God's relationship with the faithful. Grace is actually better translated in the modern language as "favour," and was shown to those who had Pistis, or loyalty, obedience, and love (this is usually translated as "faith" or "belief" in English versions).

 

Paul describes his meeting with the Jerusalem apostles in Galatians. By recognizing Paul's torah-free Gospel and his authority as a missionary, he is positioned in a client position. As Paul goes about his missionary efforts, one of the biggest problems dividing Early Christianity (and which continued to divide them after the apostes, as evidence by the Marcionites and the Ebionites) was the significance of Jewish law. That his caused friction and division is evidenced by the topics brought up in Galatians (a Gentile cult) and Romans (a mixed Jewish and Gentile cult). Paul, who had been beseeched by Jerusalem to "remember the poor", used this as an opportunity to strengthen ties and establish reciprocal, patron relationships with the Jewish-Christians. This serves as a unifying act in the church, demonstrating that in the Gospel there was no "Jew nor Greek" (Galatians 3:28). The collection can't be thought merely of as a good act. Charitable acts in the time of Jesus were never done without the expectation that patron-client relationships would be established. 

 

In other instances we know that beyond Peter's vision in Acts, that he also dined with the Gentile Christians at Antioch. Understood in the social context, this incident carries much more weight back then than it would for us. To dine with someone meant to eat their food. To eat their food meant that Peter was purposefully not eating Kosher food, demonstrating unity with the Gentile Christians. That this was the case, and also not ultimately successful is evidenced by the Jewish-Christians getting mad at the apostle for doing so (though Paul's account points to a probable reconciliation). 

 

Of course we know of the Council of Jerusalem headed by James the Just. Though this attempted to bridge the gap between Gentiles and Jews, several other incidents point to this failing to win over the general Jewish-Christian population.

 

Though the principal point of dispute among the earliest Christians was the application of Jewish law, there are incidents recorded where the apostles try to combat other dissenting forms. Acts describes Peter's disputations with Simon Magus. What is not generally known is that Simon Magus himself was a gnostic, and founder of the Gnostic-Christian Simonians. The interplay between Peter and Simon Magus is significant because it is not only a condemnation of simony or magic, but that of Gnostic teachings as well. While not known to modern readers, Simon Magus or his group were not entirely unknown the people in the Roman Empire's eastern frontier. Those at the time of Peter would have understood this incident as having deeper meaning than we read it.

 

In sum, while Early Christianity was a fractured, divided and contentious movement, that does not signify there being no attempt by the apostles to maintain cohesiveness. We see this in other movements, including the Restorationist church of Joseph Smith. There were multiple problems of dispute with converts from Campbelite, Methodist, Shaker, or other sects. That this caused some ultimate division is evidenced by the existence of division following Joseph's death (Sydney with is Campbellite background, and Brigham with his own background). Imagine if it hadn't only be various Christian groups, but Greco-Roman pagans, Zoroastrians, Hellenistic Jews, Torah-law Jews and others trying to combine!

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You're trying to have it both ways: You minimize the importance of Apostles and Prophets, saying they can be disobeyed impunity and without consequence, while you simultaneously say their "God Breathed" writings are critical and must be followed in order to come unto Christ. So which one of these positions is the correct one? Can we disobey the inspired counsel of God's Apostles and Prophets without consequence, or must we follow their inspired counsel in order come unto Christ and be saved. And please don't tell me both of these positions are correct.

 

It may appear to you that I'm trying to have it "both ways" but that is because you changed the subject. 

 

In this paragraph, you are back to salvation. 

 

With respect to salvation, "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved..." and the net result of this connection (or communion) are the fruits of the spirit. 

 

You seem to want to make a point about obeying the counsel of God's Apostles and Prophets, as if it keeps you in right standing with the church? 

 

From my reading of salvation, it is very simple, even a child can understand it. 

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The "mostly legend" part was a quote of yours (or maybe whyme - i get you two confused).

Your assertions are oddly defensive and ridiculous in their breadth (are you really able to cast such a confident distinction between yourself and all fundamentalists - whatever that means - and "EVs?").  I'm interested in your sample size.

How do you know your interpretation is true?

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It may appear to you that I'm trying to have it "both ways" but that is because you changed the subject. 

 

In this paragraph, you are back to salvation. 

 

With respect to salvation, "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved..." and the net result of this connection (or communion) are the fruits of the spirit. 

 

You seem to want to make a point about obeying the counsel of God's Apostles and Prophets, as if it keeps you in right standing with the church?

From my reading of salvation, it is very simple, even a child can understand it.

If memory serves, I believe you and I already had an extensive discussion on our respective views on salvation over a year ago. I will repeat myself: The LDS book of scripture known as the Doctrine and Covenants teaches that all that's needed in order to be saved in one of the Father's heavenly mansions of glory is to repent and receive Jesus Christ as Saviour, and then as long as that sincere belief is maintained that will be enough to be saved in the kingdom of God. In other words, the Doctrine and Covenants teaches that one need not be valiant in obeying the commandments of God in order to be saved. So on this point you and I can agree.

But the Latter-day Saints are not interested in mere salvation, but are taught to emulate the example of Paul who did not rest upon the laurels of his initial salvation experience, but pressed on in faithful obedience that he might obtain the fullness of the heavenly rewards promised to those who overcome the world by faith in Christ. Here is one of Paul's many admonitions to continue to press on in faith:

12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, IF that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.

13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3)

 

Like Paul, the Latter-day Saints know they have been saved but don't consider mere salvation to be enough to say we have already attained all the blessings God holds in store for those who are fully faithful and valiant in the testimony of Jesus. My question to you is why do you speak as if you have already attained the prize when in the above verses Paul himself hesitates to do so?

 

I'm also wondering what you think of the following:

19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am setdown with my Father in his throne. (Rev 3)

Some questions,

1 If the Laodicean saints had already obtained the fullness of God's rewards promised to the faithful, why did the Lord so solemnly rebuke them, chasten them, and command them to repent and become zealous if doing all these things was unnecessary?

 

2 If the Laodiceans were already in possession of the fullness of God's eternal rewards to the faithful, why did the Lord say He was knocking at the doors to their hearts and asking to be let in if He was already there?

 

3. If the Laodiceans had already overcome and were already heirs to all God possesses, why does He bother to admonish them by saying that only those who overcome will be given supreme honor sitting upon the throne of Christ.

 

4. Why would God mess around with the minds of the Laodiceans saints by commanding them to repent (remember, according to your understanding these people already possessed all the eternal blessings God could possibly give them) if there was nothing left for them to faithfully strive to obtain?

 

5 It was Jesus Christ who commanded the Laodiceans to repent, become zealous and overcome if they were to obtain the throne, but that commandment was not given directly by the Saviour Himself but through the Prophet John. So since that command was given to the Laodicean saints by a Prophet, rather than directly and personally by the Lord Himself, were these saints free to ignore the commandment without consequence?

Edited by teddyaware
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The "mostly legend" part was a quote of yours (or maybe whyme - i get you two confused).

Your assertions are oddly defensive and ridiculous in their breadth (are you really able to cast such a confident distinction between yourself and all fundamentalists - whatever that means - and "EVs?").  I'm interested in your sample size.

Yep.

 

And the quote was out of context.  But the real issue you are dodging is how you know your interpretation- for one and the Bible in general- are both "true" and what that means to you.

 

And THAT is precisely what distinguishes us - Mormons- from what you would erroneously call "Christians".  So sad that you folks seem to have forgotten the importance of testimony

 

2Peter 1

 

16 For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

17 For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

18 And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

 

Each unconnected congregation making up its own interpretations, with no authority to unify them, and no guidance from the Spirit about what church is "true".

 

All the fragmentation is pretty sad, I think.  You have your interpretation and argue with more fundamentalist "Christians" about which is right.

 

That's not one faith, one baptism, and is certainly not the more sure word of prophecy.

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If memory serves, I believe you and I already had an extensive discussion on our respective views on salvation over a year ago. I will repeat myself: The LDS book of scripture known as the Doctrine and Covenants teaches that all that's needed in order to be saved in one of the Father's heavenly mansions of glory is to repent and receive Jesus Christ as Saviour, and then as long as that sincere belief is maintained that will be enough to be saved in the kingdom of God. In other words, the Doctrine and Covenants teaches that one need not be valiant in obeying the commandments of God in order to be saved. So on this point you and I can agree.

But the Latter-day Saints are not interested in mere salvation, but are taught to emulate the example of Paul who did not rest upon the laurels of his initial salvation experience, but pressed on in faithful obedience that he might obtain the fullness of the heavenly rewards promised to those who overcome the world by faith in Christ. Here is one of Paul's many admonitions to continue to press on in faith:

12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, IF that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.

13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3)

 

Like Paul, the Latter-day Saints know they have been saved but don't consider mere salvation to be enough to say we have already attained all the blessings God holds in store for those who are fully faithful and valiant in the testimony of Jesus. My question to you is why do you speak as if you have already attained the prize when in the above verses Paul himself hesitates to do so?

 

I'm also wondering what you think of the following:

19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am setdown with my Father in his throne. (Rev 3)

Some questions,

1 If the Laodicean saints had already obtained the fullness of God's rewards promised to the faithful, why did the Lord so solemnly rebuke them, chasten them, and command them to repent and become zealous if doing all these things was unnecessary?

 

2 If the Laodiceans were already in possession of the fullness of God's eternal rewards to the faithful, why did the Lord say He was knocking at the doors to their hearts and asking to be let in if He was already there?

 

3. If the Laodiceans had already overcome and were already heirs to all God possesses, why does He bother to admonish them by saying that only those who overcome will be given supreme honor sitting upon the throne of Christ.

 

4. Why would God mess around with the minds of the Laodiceans saints by commanding them to repent (remember, according to your understanding these people already possessed all the eternal blessings God could possibly give them) if there was nothing left for them to faithfully strive to obtain?

 

5 It was Jesus Christ who commanded the Laodiceans to repent, become zealous and overcome if they were to obtain the throne, but that commandment was not given directly by the Saviour Himself but through the Prophet John. So since that command was given to the Laodicean saints by a Prophet, rather than directly and personally by the Lord Himself, were these saints free to ignore the commandment without consequence?

 

A note about your phrase, “mere salvation”; You used this phrase twice, and I’m pretty sure you didn’t mean to demean salvation by this phrase, but that is how it comes across.

 

You said that, I speak as if I already attained the prize…. I’m unclear where I’ve spoken that way. I haven’t once used that phrase or term (prize).  Do I think that I’ve already attained the “prize” such as Paul is referencing? No.

 

We were talking about the minimum requirements for salvation. Now you’re saying that I was talking about rewards? I wasn’t.

 

In answer to your questions, I don’t think that the Laodicians had already obtained the fullness of God’s eternal rewards yet.

 

Your last question entails a question about obedience to a prophet. And I would say the same that I said above, that the diligence that the Bereans showed is what I would expect from someone who didn’t trust John. Christ through the spirit also speaks to us. The Prophets aren’t the only vehicle God uses.

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Yep.

 

And the quote was out of context.  But the real issue you are dodging is how you know your interpretation- for one and the Bible in general- are both "true" and what that means to you.

 

And THAT is precisely what distinguishes us - Mormons- from what you would erroneously call "Christians".  So sad that you folks seem to have forgotten the importance of testimony

 

2Peter 1

 

Each unconnected congregation making up its own interpretations, with no authority to unify them, and no guidance from the Spirit about what church is "true".

 

All the fragmentation is pretty sad, I think.  You have your interpretation and argue with more fundamentalist "Christians" about which is right.

 

That's not one faith, one baptism, and is certainly not the more sure word of prophecy.

 

Tell me where Christ stated we should seek the "true" church?

 

What you can't see, yet judge anyway, is the authority Christ exercises over his church. 

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Tell me where Christ stated we should seek the "true" church?

Oh I guess we really should seek a false church? Good one.

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Tell me where Christ stated we should seek the "true" church?

 

What you can't see, yet judge anyway, is the authority Christ exercises over his church. 

So precisely which false church does he exercise his authority over since we should not seek the true church?

 

Or maybe you are saying no churches have authority.  Or all of them, which is the same. 

 

So that means none of us have to confess Him as our Savior or accept him at all, and the Christian "chruch" is not "true"?

 

Or maybe it just means that we should just all be Christians all by ourselves in families and not band together in "fellowships" or whatever you guys call your churches. Or maybe call them that so we can pretend they are not "really" churches???

 

So what authority do the pastors who think they have churches have?

 

Pretty cool.  We all get to interpret the bible for ourselves, Christ exercises authority- some how mysteriously- and we belong to no churches.

 

Pretty interesting approach.

 

Phew.  That makes life a lot easier.  We can all stay home on Sunday and read the bible.  And baptize the babies in the bathtub since everyone has equal authority.

 

No more seminaries or schools of theology.  Fuller has to close its doors and BIOLA is out of business.

 

No one to pay collections to, because Christ doesn't have a bank account.  Or better yet, I could just write checks to Jesus Christ and wait for him to cash them.

 

I'm going to like that a bunch!

Edited by mfbukowski
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