Spiritual: July 2006 Archives

My clone second cousin Danny has another post that I feel like I could have written. What I mean by this is that (1) I happen to agree with everything he says, (2) the things he's most interested in emphasizing are what I think is most important, and (3) the qualifications he makes to his major points are all things I would want to be clear about so that the major points wouldn't be misunderstood. It gets into the purpose of public worship, the connection of being filled with the Spirit and singing songs to each other, and the significance of all that for how we should do public worship. It's a thoroughly balanced post. Also, check out the comments to see why I think the view that public worship is about intimacy with God is not only wrong but even contrary to the real purpose of public worship.

Josh Claybourn and co. at In the Agora have brought in a new blogger, Seth Zirkle. Along with Jollyblogger, who gets the tip of the hat on this one, I very much appreciate Seth's call to recognize the importance of the local church in a time when there's a serious fad to abandon it on grounds that are downright contradictory, i.e. a pretense that someone can be a Christian without being part of the church, which defies the very definition of the church. The church is manifested locally, and each local body is the church. Thus rejecting what is sometimes called the organized church is rejecting God's people as a whole. [For more on this, including more careful support of the fundamental premise, see my Organized Religion and the Church from two years ago.]

For similar reasons, I have an extremely strong presumption against leaving a local body except for reasons of serious heresy or immorality among the leadership, and even then only when the church as a whole refuses to confront that issue or the relevant people. Of course if you are leaving the area and wouldn't be present to attend your local congregation's meetings, it's a pretty good idea to commit to a different congregation. For reasons other than those sorts of things, leaving a local body is tantamount leaving the church, even if where you end up is also the church. What you left was the church, fully the church, and not just a part of the church. The New Testament knows nothing of local bodies that are just part of the church, and what you do to any local body you therefore do to the church. For these reasons, I greatly appreciated the main point of Seth's post.

Yet there's this one line that sort of spoils it for me. One of his points is that no local congregation is perfect. It's hard to find a local congregation that teaches the Bible rather than just giving topical sermons. In the same breath, Seth also says that it's hard to find a local congregation that avoids "secular instruments, such as pianos, guitars, and drums". If I hadn't been warned by Jollyblogger, I would have been stopped in my tracks.

I can't resist linking to "Follower of Jesus" or "Christian"? by Danny Pierce. I happen to share a last name and a couple great-grandparents with Danny (i.e. he's my second cousin), but I'm not sure if we've ever met in person. I think we have, and he thinks we haven't, but even if we did it would have been more than a decade ago. But read his post. Can't you imagine me having written that post? When I read it, I kept thinking his style of argument and way of framing his conclusions sounded so much like my own style of argument and way of framing conclusions. Suffice it to say that I think it's a great post and well worth reading.

Update: See Danny's response to this post. Even his humor is along the same lines as mine. I am indeed his mother's mother-in-law's brother-in-law's grandson, as he is mine.

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