Post by Christian Soldier on Nov 12, 2013 2:12:04 GMT -5
When Christ returns, of course there shall be no denominations, per se. Or at least, all of them will teach the same doctrine and simply have different worship and leadership styles, but the differences would end there. Baron makes a fantastic point, that what binds us, but also separates us, is our love for Christ. Just expressed differently, with different third order beliefs.
Again, tactically speaking, we don't want to be a single church, and our God is a very Tactical God. For our faith to survive in the long term, we cannot have a single denomination. Each church must be independent. I would even say that denominations altogether should end and all churches should remain completely independent of each other; however, I know that many require that structure for their worship to be true and I am a huge fan of hedging my bets. In other words, there should be several massive denominations just in case I am wrong, but also many, many single churches working together.
Best reading for this topic: The Spider and the Starfish
You can't kill me, I'm already dead!
[br]This is the martyr's cry!
If I may use an analogy, let us look at the United States of America.
In theory, the United States consists of a large number of individual states united under a federal government limited by a core document. In practice, we have a massive, bloated central government that makes most of the individuality between the states a question of semantics. If I am understanding Christian Soldier aright, this is what he does not want to happen to the church. In which case, I agree with him. Strong centralized power base dictating whatever it feels like to individual members: bad.
On the other hand, I vehemently do not wish the denominations to hold the same relation to each other as the USA and Canada: separate entities that, while they share many similarities in laws and structure, are fundamentally independent and non-interactive.
What I want (and let's face it, that's what's important here) is something more akin to the theoretical conception of the United States of America. A unified entity that nevertheless intrudes little into the affairs of individual members. A limited set of standards applied across the board, and no more. Enough to glue to bind everything together while still leaving streamers free to blow in the wind. One can make a good argument that such would leave the church open to corruption; the secular example of the United States and the religious example of the Catholic Church would seem to bear this out. However, if at first you don't succeed, keep beating your head against the wall, or something like that. I don't think that our failure to live up to a standard should be taken as a sign that we shouldn't strive for it.
Leaving the analogy, I would like to add that I disagree vehemently with Christian Soldier's belief that we need to somehow manage the survival of our faith. He says that for our faith to survive in the long term, we must do certain things. I would say that it is quite impossible for our faith NOT to survive in the long term, whatever we do. As long as the gospel moves in the world, whether it is through churches or individuals, God will still call hearts. Even when the church has been at its most decadent, there have been individuals all over the world who have kept and spread the faith. The power of Christianity is in the Gospel, not in human organizations. To put ourselves in the command room where the big picture is managed is to overstep our authority. Long-term survival is a matter of strategy, not tactics; I agree that our God is a very tactical God in the sense that I believe he wants us to be focused on the tactics because he's in charge of the strategy. Live our lives as best we can in the places he has put us, and he will take care of the long-term. To shape the flow of history is quite beyond our power.
Finally, I would like to inquire what is meant by requiring structure for one's worship to be true. More specifically, what 'worship' means in that context.
[i]"Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."[/i] ~ I Thessalonians 5:16-18[br][br]If a collection of unpronounceable letters and a number doesn't appeal to you, you may call me Randy[br][br]"The use of cliche is only a fault if it is to avoid creativity rather than prompt it." ~ Me
I want to be free to enjoy all the richness of truth and all the depth of meaning that Christianity has stood for throughout the centuries, even as all the different sects garbled and mishandled the truth in different ways.
I want to be able to cross myself after a prayer said among Evangelicals and not be judged as being idolatrous or even noted as doing something strange. If so inclined, I want to raise my hand in worship during an upbeat charismatic-style worship service and not be judged by any hardcore Baptists that may be awkwardly standing in the back. Conversely, I want to stand quietly and meditate on the mystery of the Gospel instead of displaying outward emotion, regardless of what the people around me may or may not be doing, and not be targeted by my Pentecostal friends as someone that needs to be zapped with the Spirit. I want to get an ashen cross traced on my forehead on that particular Wednesday, and then later that day walk into a Protestant church's Bible study without fear of being ostracized for participating in a Catholic ritual.
I am a free Christian, and I feel that my Christian inheritance should be the right to worship God anywhere I find His truth and glory, despite cultural grievances and other people's theological qualms.
To put ourselves in the command room where the big picture is managed is to overstep our authority. Long-term survival is a matter of strategy, not tactics; I agree that our God is a very tactical God in the sense that I believe he wants us to be focused on the tactics because he's in charge of the strategy.
I strongly agree, but I also think we're all different. I don't think God is literally a "tactical" God, but I don't think He is literally any other adjective that I might like to substitute to suit my own personality and theological perspective. We all see partial truths. The fact that "tactics" are sometimes good and necessary is a truth that I can't see very well and don't even like very much, but I must admit that it is true. Thank God other Christians understand the value in deliberate human tactics. Maybe due to their faithfulness in deliberate evangelism and outward coordination, I might not be expected to perform the same duties.
Still, I think too fanatical of an adherence to outward results and deliberate effort is the great failing and hypocrisy of Evangelicalism.