Thursday, January 4, 2007

The Ideal Church?

How do we know that the New Testament church is the ideal for which we should strive? This is the restoration plea upon which the Stone-Campbell movement was based. However, I have lately been questioning (NOT denying, just questioning) it. My thinking goes something like this:

If God is sovereign over history, and if He has been/is active in his church, then wouldn't the development of Christianity over time be t the result of His divine guidance rather than a departure from it? Seems to make sense to me.

Once again, I do not denying the validity of the Restoration plea. I do, however, questioning it. I have been raised a restorationist and my theology is still framed by restoration ideas. I see in the church of the New Testament much purity and unity (although far from perfect in both of those areas) which is absent in modern-day Christianity. I see much strength in the argument that the New Testament church was being guided directly by the divine inspiration of the apostles.

But much of the New Testament is written in generalities. There is a beautiful vagueness to Scripture that opens its teachings to a certain degree of interpretation. There are some specifics described in the Scriptures about the New Testament church's practice, liturgy, etc. However, there are far fewer of these specifics than one would think if a blueprint were intended. And these specifics mostly speak only of one congregation without implying or stating universal application in the apostolic church.

Once again, I do NOT deny the validity of restorationism, at least not yet. But I'm free to question it, aren't I? I guess that probably depends on who you ask.

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1 comment:

Anther said...

I am a minister of 35 years in the one cup, non-instrumental, grape juice only, blah, blah, blah, church of Christ. I agree with your position and I think that mine is the same as yours. That is, I do not believe that there was a uniform pattern/set of rules (for the communion, singing, etc.) for every congregation. One thing to note is that the Christians in the first century never saw/read the Old Testament/New Testament or the Bible in one volume. Therefore, what Paul said to the Corinthians took a while to get to the Galatians. People today always yell: "Give me book, chapter and verse. . . " Well, the 1st century Christians did not have the luxury that we have to read the Bible in one volume, divided into "book, chapter and verses." Therefore, all of the doctrines that so many in the c of Christ pester people with by lifting these obscure doctrines (out of context) by using book, chapter and verse are doing something that early Christians had no idea existed.