Wednesday, April 2

A Completely Biblical Church

Alan Knox has done it again with another great post entitled, A Completely Biblical Church. Before you get too upset about some of his "biblical" conclusions, remember yesterday was April Fool's Day! :)

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I've decided to begin a new church which I'm calling a Completely Biblical Church - since it is originating completely from Scripture. Trust me... this is completely legitimate... not a joke at all... I wouldn't lie to you... not today, or all days.

To determine the practices of this church, I've scoured Scripture and determined practices that most churches ignore, using the same hermeneutical principles used to determine church practices by other churches today. Here are a few of the new practices along with the texts which demonstrate that these are scriptural practices:

1. No church meetings will be held in rooms that are at ground level or below. All meetings will be held above ground level.
  • He will show you a large upper room furnished and ready... (Mark 14:15)
  • And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying... (Acts 1:13)
  • There were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered. (Acts 20:8)
2. Regardless of the start time, every preacher or teacher will continue speaking until midnight (or someone falls out of a window, whichever comes first).
  • [W]hen we were gathered together..., Paul talked with them..., and he prolonged his speech until midnight. (Acts 20:7)
3. Songs will only be sung silently (in the heart). In public, songs will only be spoken out loud.
  • [S]peaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord in your heart... (Ephesians 5:19)
  • [S]inging psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God... (Colossians 3:16)
4. The people of the church will eat together every day.
  • And day by day..., they were sharing their food with glad and generous hearts... (Acts 2:46)
5. Only young people under 30 will allowed to be leaders.
  • Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. (1 Timothy 4:12)
6. Only those with stomach ailments will be allowed to be leaders. Those with other types of ailments will be considered under special circumstances.
  • No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments. (1 Timothy 5:23)
7. All women will give birth in pairs (or more), while a man from the church helps them.
  • Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side... (Philippians 4:3)
8. All prayers will be spoken while kneeling with the hands raised.
  • For this reason I bow my knees before the Father... (Ephesians 3:14)
  • I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands... (1 Timothy 2:8)
9. A "conversion" will only be considered valid if the "converted" actually falls down on his or her face. If the fall draws blood, the person's conversion will be considered extraordinary and the person will immediately be entered into a leadership training program and put on a lecture circuit.
  • But if... an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God... (1 Corinthians 14:24-25
10. When meeting to pray, the prayer will not end until the meeting place begins to shake.
  • And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken... (Acts 4:31)
We will continue to study Scripture to determine what activities should be practiced by the members of this church and how those activities should be carried out. Why? Because, we want to make sure that everything we do is completely biblical using the common hermeneutic of today...

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While we may smile at a church holding to such teachings, the truth is this is how many of us come to our theological and church practices. After all, the Bible says it right there in clear English... doesn't it!?!?

Frank Viola and George Barna talk about this misuse of Scripture in Pagan Christianity. The way many of us approach the Bible is by isolating and pasting together a series of texts to come up with just about any kind of theology one can imagine. Our approach is akin to putting together the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Frank describes it, "You could call our method of studying the New Testament the "clipboard approach..." where one cuts and pastes pieces of text via the computer clipboard. In this way you can copy a sentence from one document and paste it into another. Little regard is given to the text's original intent. By this practice we can pretty much say whatever we like, and then justify it by saying, "the Scripture clearly teaches..." Isn't this what many of us do in order to justify our theological stances and church practices?

Time and space do not allow me to get into this topic further, but suffice it to say, Alan's spoof illustrates the danger of isolating Biblical texts and then pasting them into our own outline to justify some crazy stances on things. What's worse, we try to impose our "biblical" position on everyone else. Those who disagree are not in disagreement with us, but with the Word of God!

What do you think?

5 comments:

Alan Knox said...

Guy,

Thanks for the link to my post. Also, I think your comments are very important. I think one of the questions that we should ask ourselves is when we develop our understanding of the church, do we begin with Scripture in order to let Scripture inform and form our ecclesiology, or do we simply begin with our practices and use Scripture to justify those practices? I think the results of the two approaches will be different.

-Alan

GuyMuse said...

Alan,

You are exactly right. We must begin with Scripture to form our theology and practices, instead of starting with our suppositions and then trying to prove these with Scripture.

We have run up against this many times over the years with issues related to baptism. There are a lot of strong traditions that really do not bear up if one BEGINS with ALL that the NT says about the subject, and allow that to form our beliefs and practices.

I deal with this matter in nearly every CP training that we do. Traditions are sacred and have been elevated to the status of being equal to Scripture. The only way this can happen is by cutting and pasting verses together to arrive at the favored tradition.

Dwigt said...

so yeah, Viola is right about cut-and-paste theology. But doesn't it bother you in his books he doesn't really develop a solid Biblical Theology (a theology of the whole Bible) in how he develops church?

All of the Viola fans i know ignore the manhood/womanhood motif in the Bible. All Viola style churches I have seen are über egalitarian. But isn't it hard to escape the male headship motif that spans from Genesis to the early church were male elders were established? You would think that someone who promotes looking at the whole story-line of the Bible wouldn't throw away this whole-bible motif.

It is almost as if Viola tells us not to cut and paste our theology so he can do whatever he feels like in his church. I have always seen über egalitarianism being defended by a cut and paste theology, not a whole Bible theology. Is it because egalitarianism is pagan?

your thoughts?

GuyMuse said...

Dwigt,

Welcome to the "M Blog" glad you stopped by and thanks for the comment.

One of the verses I have taken to heart that guides me in dealing with any of the writings/teachings of men is Paul's word of exhortation to the Thessalonians, ...examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good... I don't have to be in agreement with every stance, teaching, or word that someone shares. What I try to do is examine carefully and hold on to that which is good.

I think one of the most harmful things in the Kingdom is disunity in the Body of Christ. Instead of focusing on our differences, why not focus on what we have in common for the advancement of the Kingdom?

I have learned a lot from reading Frank Viola, but that is not to say I agree with him on everything he writes. On the subject that you make reference to it has been our experience that there is still much division and difference of opinion on the roles of men and women in the church. While we have come to some understanding of this matter, I would be careful to not try and force our own understanding on everybody else. This is truly one of those issues that one can "copy and paste" verses from Scripture to justify one's position on the matter.

As for our own position on this issue, I would invite you to read through several past posts where we attempt to tackle the place of women in the church. In our own context and work, it has simply not been a big issue. We view men and women alike as servants of the King. We focus on giftings, not gender when it comes to ministry.

I don't know if I have answered your question, but these are some of my thoughts on the matter.

Donald said...

Dwigt, I have to wonder if you read Barna and Viola's book. It says many times in it that it's the first of a series. Viola has written a book called "the untold story of the church" which gives his theological understanding of the church and church practices. It's the new testament told as a narrative chronologically. I thought it was a great read. The sequel to Pagan Christianity is supposed to come out this summer My understanding is that this book will discuss what an organic church looks like even its leadership. you should listen to the interview where Barna and Viola discuss these things. You can download it at www.paganchristianity.org that's where I heard it.