You are hereWhen a Church Splits

When a Church Splits

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By Virgil - Posted on 03 March 2004

Divorce is an ugly thing. It is hurtful to all parties involved regardless of who may be at blame more than another. It strikes the children the worse because children trusted the parents to be an example, a pattern for their lives. It is no minor issue.The same is true with a church split. It is not simply one group differing with another. It is not simply one group “taking their ball and going home.” A church is a spiritual family. A split in a church is as much as a divorce as divorce is between married couples.



Recently, I have been witnessing the split of a congregation of which I had been a member of for over 11 years. My wife and I married in that congregation. I was baptized in that congregation. Granted we had not been part of that congregation for over 6 years now, which is another subject (we were forced out), but there is still a deep attachment.



Why do churches split? Sometimes its over some doctrinal difference but usually it is over some petty issue that sparks the powder keg that was the real issue. In this case the petty issue was over pride and hurt feelings but the real issue was over power.



This congregation is an Independent Fundamental Baptist congregation and as such its church government is comprised much like the contemporary congregations in America.
That is, there is an individual pastor who for all intents and purposes is the CEO of the corporation. The board of deacons is the “trustees” or the board members of the corporation and the congregants are “shareholders” of the corporation. This is how the government sees all churches; simply as non-profit corporations. If you are accustomed to elders rather than deacons you will note there is usually one elder that stands out among the others – he is your CEO. I don’t say this to be demeaning; I simply am stating how the government views a church. The government doesn't really care what the denomination is or if it has more claim to being the true church or not.



Now, what happened in this specific instance is that the CEO and the trustees called a meeting wherein they wanted the shareholders to divest a fellow shareholder of privileges – or to use church jargon; the pastor and the deacon’s board wanted the congregation to vote on discipline of a fellow church member. In this case, the accused was the pastor emeritus who had questioned the stewardship of the current pastor. Don’t jump to conclusions; the pastor emeritus was not a rabble-rouser. He had quietly sat under the preaching of the current pastor for over 8 years without a peep. The issue at hand was a question about the handling of the church’s school. It was supposed that the current pastor did not care for the school but merely inherited it from the former pastor. As things became increasingly financially dire for the school and from what seemed neglect on the part of the current pastor the pastor emeritus had several private meetings with the current pastor and the deacon’s board to try to save the school. Finally it all came to a head when the current pastor called a sudden meeting of the congregation to vote for an end to funding the school that had existed for over 25 years. The congregation was blindsided by the meeting, most not even knowing there was a financial crisis with the school until the meeting. The pastor emeritus could take no more of the apparent subterfuge and kindly but boldly and publicly questioned the stewardship of the current pastor in the matter.



All this, brings us to the issue of the split. After a week or so another meeting was called, this time to vote for “disfellowship” (excommunication) of the pastor emeritus. Yes, he was given some options a week beforehand:



1.) Come before the congregation and admit he was wrong to question the leadership.

2.) Leave the congregation quietly. (He could still have fellowship as long as he did so without bringing up the issue)

3.) Come before the congregation for a vote to either disfellowship him or not.



Again, this meeting was sudden as well. Many of the members of the congregation showed up for the typical Sunday night services and found out they had to vote to either let the pastor emeritus stay or not. (Keep in mind this pastor was the one who started the congregation back in the `70s and had pastored the church for 20+ years and that there had been another pastor before the current one, who left on his own accord to be a professor.)



Before the vote, the church leadership gave the rousing speech about how the ultimate goal for the church is unanimity (really? I thought it was unity). When the votes were counted it was 77 in favor of disfellowship and 88 against.



The current pastor approached the pulpit and gravely announced they had a church split and he had to meet with the deacon’s board immediately.



Please allow me to pause from the account for a moment to make some observations.




1.) Imagine a husband and wife having a disagreement over a single matter and then one of them announcing they have a split – so bad that it will conclude in divorce.
2.) Why did the pastor even take a vote if he was not prepared to carry out the wishes of the majority? – The entire structure seems flawed – “Obey them who have the rule over you” but yet you have a vote, but if you vote contrary to those who have the rule over you then you are in rebellion – it makes no sense.



The church did split but it was not the congregation that split but the pastor and the so-called leaders. It is analogous to self proclaimed (or appointed) “shepherds” that flee if the flock becomes disoriented, either on their own or by the instigation of the very shepherds. Could you see the first-century congregations behaving this way? If you don’t like the church at Ephesus just ditch it and go to Philippi . That would never have happened and I’ll tell you why. The contemporary concept of the “local church” or “local body of Christ” is NOT biblical. The "local church" mentality is an exclusivity reminiscent of the Jewish concept that Gentiles were unworthy of the kingdom. The Church was always and is still universal. I know, I know someone will want to add phrases like the “invisible” and the “visible” church but there really was no such thing in the first-century. If you were in the congregation, (any congregation – Ephesus, Philippi, Thessalonica etc) then it was supposed you were part of the “visible” and “invisible” church. There was very little distinction. That was left up to God.



So, some of the members of the congregation (I suspect most of the 77 that agreed with the current pastor) were convinced that the opposing 88 were in open rebellion to the pastor and thus they declared they could no longer have fellowship with “ungodly, rebellious people” and 77 left the congregation along with the current pastor and most of the deacon’s board. Life-long friendships were cut. Children were told to no longer to speak with the 88 families that remained. Phone calls from concerned friends went unanswered.



One of those brothers that remained with the congregation, the spiritual family he invested his life with; tried to call one of those who left. The one who left refused to speak with him and said as long as he remained at that congregation he was in rebellion and he could not be his friend. The brother asked the accuser if it is true then what is the accuser doing to restore the brother? I don’t know if there has ever been an answer from the accuser.



I apologize for depressing anyone but this horrid true tale leads me to a question. The question isn’t based upon an extreme example or a “one bad apple” case but rather the question is based upon a real biblical question.



What is the church supposed to look like today?



Are we really supposed to have individual pastors that whether they act the part or not are in practicality “mini-popes”? Are we supposed to have deacon’s boards acting like trustees when in the Bible we merely see them serving tables? Are we supposed to have a plurality of elders wherein actuality one is more prominent than the others? Are we supposed to have congregational elections?



The sad and depressing part of this church split is that both “bodies” are merely re-creating the same structure that seemed to lead to all of this chaos. Each group is going to be controlled by an individual pastor, a deacon’s board and a “constitution” that calls for congregational vote. Did they not learn anything?



Roderick

Duck's picture

What did the first century church look like? Open participatory meetings (1Cor14:26), government by consensus (Acts 15), Plurality of elders (Acts 14:23), Lord Supper as a full meal, weekly (1Cor 11:18ff), etc... What does the church look like today? Closed meetings where one person speaks, aka, the pastor, government by "the pastor" or whatever form of leadership with little or no input from the congregation, Pastor rule, and the Lord Supper quarterly, or yearly, and never as a full meal. Did the Apostle's lay down any examples for us to follow? Why does the modern church look so different from the first century church? Is there perhaps a need for reformation in the area of ecclesiology as well as eschatology?

DJ

BigD's picture

How did we get here? In the 4th century the Romans made Christianity the official religion of the empire. Now it was cool to be a Christian, you no longer had to choose between societal acceptance and persecution, so the "membership" of the church swelled. Prior to that time pastors and elders were supported by the church, once this happened they received gov't salaries, and many Christians were placed into gov't positions. Then Rome established the structure and government of the church to match that of the empire. As the Protestant churches spun off from the Catholic church over the centuries, they seem to be more inclined to follow the Catholic model than the Christian model. Luther posed his reformation as a return to early Christian form, but he really made a return to 4th century Roman form - huge difference.

Dave

BigD

Duck's picture

The question is not so much how we got to this point, but where should we go from here? Back to the first century, with open participatory meetings or another thousand years of staring at the back of someones head? What is the Biblical model for Church? Is there a biblical model? One man show or open particapatory meetings? I think the answer is as obvious as the time statements.

DJ

Roderick's picture

In my recent studies on how we got to the point where most congregations are governed by an individual pastor I stumbled upon some interesting data:
----
I have cross referenced various Bible translations and found that the King James Version most often translates various leadership roles as pastor and not only in the New Testament but also (and more often) in the Old Testament. Compare these various translations of Jeremiah 3:15 –

“Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding.” (NIV)

“And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.” (KJV)

“And I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.” (NKJV)

After checking ten other English translations, none except the KJV used the word pastors in Jer 3:15. (see NASB, MSG, AMP, NLT, NLV, ESV, CEV, ASV, YLT, and DARBY)

This may seem a minor point to some but it is significant to show that the acceptance of one translation to the complete exclusion of others may impede a clearer understanding of various texts, including church offices. If a person reads in their Bible and sees the title pastor being used almost exclusivey then there would be no hesitation when such an office is modeled as the biblical example.

When we look into the New Testament we see some of the ten translations discussed above only translate one verse with the word pastors and that is Ephesians 4:11.

“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,” (NIV) (see also NASB, NLT, ESV, CEV, ASV)

At least three of the translations never used the word pastors at all. (NLV, YLT DARBY) and interestingly nor does the Wycliffe translation of the New Testament. The Wycliffe was one of the very first English translations of the Bible, being written in the early 1500s, a full one-hundred years before the KJV.

Lastly, the NKJV only translates Eph 4:11 and Jer 12:10 with the word pastors. Again, the significance of this cannot be overemphasized.
----------------
I truly believe this is one of the reasons the concept of the individual pastor model is so prevelant within the indep fundamental baptist circles (which are most often exclusive KJV advocates).
Roderick

BigD's picture

I wish Roderick were right. But he isn't. Unfortunately the corporate church is the true church, except that it is easily corrupted by heretics and power seekers.

If Roderick were right, I'd just quit trying to deal with these people and go do something else. It would be a lot easier.

Unfortunately, Sam is right on this issue. So I'm determined to keep banging my head against the wall, I mean trying to find a corporate church. Know of any good ones near Disneyland?

I really wish I could know why you say this. The "corporate church" is so unbiblical it is stagering.

Apostles appointed the church leaders, without Apostles, who is doing the appointing? Or are you Catholic? Too many pieces are missing from the puzzle to even try to resemble what Paul set up. The reason there was silence is because there was no necessity for a "corporate" church, just a necessity of the knowledge of the grace of God, without law in the way. Which they had.

God Bless,
Nate

BigD

JL's picture

Nate,

In one place you endorse the book, "The Purpose Driven Life." Then here you say this. Truly bizarre.

Warren first wrote "The Purpose Driven Church." This is a manual for church leaders. In it, he explains several times that it is necessary to purposefully split the church and drive out people who might interfere with your agenda.

"The Purpose Driven Life," which you endorsed, is the book to use to get church members to implement that agenda. It is the best example yet of what's wrong with the "corporate church."

How can you endorse a book like that and at the same time claim "[t]he 'corporate church' is so unbiblical it is stagering[sic]?"

JL

Blessings,

JL Vaughn
Beyond Creation Science

Islamaphobe's picture

We are talking about the book Purpose Driven Life. SO far i like what it has to say about daily life and needing one another, as real brothers, as a real community.

Not sure you really read what I said. I have not read "The Purpose Driven Church," however to have a purpose in life, being a Christian and sharing you rlife with others and what you, as a group of believers, can do to contribute your life, talents and cares with those other Christians you choose to associate with is not even possible to villify like you are attempting.

I do not endorse Warren, I endorse the topics and sections in the book "The Purpose Driven Life" we have studied so far.

My take is the "church" of today lack the passion for the "accuracy" of scripture but try to find the intent of Christ's life in being a light.
But the preterists are determined and passionate about accuracy, and seem lacking in the true "fellowship" aspect of Christianity. This is not including all preterists, but there is more than just debate over doctrine in life.

I enjoy being around these people who want to discuss his book. They are genuinly caring and want to be servants of God and others. That makes them a pleasure to be around.

We don't need to agree on all aspects of eschatology to get along in Christ. We are not united of divided in truth, we are united in love. We are all on different paths on the road to truth.

God Bless,
Nate

JL's picture

Nate,

I know what you said. I've read both books. PD Church defines the purpose for PD Life. Reading PD Life w/o reading PD Church is like listening to Hitler's speeches w/o reading Mein Kampf. You don't know Warren's purpose.

In one part of PD Life, Warren talks about how his church requires members to sign a "Statement of Faith." In PD Church, Warren explains why every church should require this. It's really an oath of allegience to a specific set of doctrine and to the church leadership.

Warren's purpose in PD Life is to either develop in you an unnatural attachment to the corporate church or have you run out, disfellowshipped, etc.

JL

Blessings,

JL Vaughn
Beyond Creation Science

chrisliv's picture

Thanks for that. I did not know what PD Church was like.

However, I will still read PD Life. He has not mentioned anything like that thus far in our study. As I said, it is simply about Christ and living as him in our lives, thus far.

I also said I do not endorse the man, I like his book I am reading THUS FAR.

And no, it is by no means my responsibility to know about someones life history when reading one of their works. It is like saying someone cannot appreciate Tolkein without reading the Hobbit before The Lord of the Rings.

Sorry, I am not responsible to reject a mans book based on what you tell me about his prior book, when all I do is like the current one I am reading. The fellowship aspect of it is good.

God Bless,
Nate

saint's picture

Read whatever you like, Nate. Use discernment and you won't have any problem. I don't think you'll get sucked into anything bad as if the books have some power over you. If you do slip up, I'll pray for you (in fact I will anyway, as soon as this is posted). It's hard to become more discerning just by others telling you what to avoid. More people should read this stuff just to test it and build up their discernment.

Having said that, I wouldn't spend two cents on his books, but I already know the things he lets through the cracks. Enjoy your study, glad to see you have others to fellowship with. Take advantage of it to sharpen each other.

God bless,
Dan

BigD's picture

Nate,

JL is still making a good point that you're missing, maybe a better analogy: Steven Covey wrote "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People," if he had written one sequel book to develop each habit, you'd still be better off reading the original "blue print, big picture" book first. Warren's givng you a how-to book to jump off a cliff, but you won't necessarily see that aspect if you haven't read the first book. Similarly, Christians that pick up an article by the Ezzo's on their Growing Kids God's Way program or Ken Hamm's Answers in Genesis might think that isolated piece is interesting and sounds reasonable, but unless you know some history and overriding philosophy of those people you won't immediately realize the direction they intend to lead you.

Dave

BigD

chrisliv's picture

Gee, JL,

The author of those books seems to be using proven tactics that a worldly State uses.

It seems that the author is interested in performance as well as purpose. And I'd be interested to hear what the author's stated Purpose is for all of that performance.

Peace,
Christian

BigD's picture

Sorry, I messed that all up. I was posting to JL and got the quote a mess and posted to the wrong spot!

BigD

SciotaMicks's picture

Roderick,

What happened in that particular church is unfortunate; and it does happen often. But not all "local churches" are like that.

For example my church has 10 elders - 2 of which are the pastors, or "head shepherds". They consider themselves equal to the fellow elders; and the elders consider themselves equal to the congregation.

The congregation trusts the elders to represent the church in its service to God. The congregation also gets to vote on the various issues.

I believe it to be a biblical setup.

BigD's picture

Roderick,

JL suggested recently that I read "Will the Real Heretics Stand Up," excellent book, and it does address some of the issues you raise in a very interesting manner. In the first century the pastor and elders didn't take a salary, or have outside jobs like our contemporary deacons do, they were provided for in the same manner that the church provided for widows and orphans. I don't advocate that today, but people in those positions should be mindful of that bit of history.

I like my current pastor, he's a good guy, but he does have "mini-Pope" qualities. We currently have about 900-1000 members, only 8-9 deacons, but there is an effort in progress to double that number. He doesn't want to have to deal with "bickering" and "petty squabbles" or things like hospital visits, he wants to delegate all of that and focus on his Sat. PM and two Sunday AM sermons, plus counselling (he has a seminary degree in family counselling). That doesn't sit well with me. He's just over 50, but when he was 25 years old, a HS dropout and insurance salesman, he was appointed a deacon, so his model of deacon roles and service comes from that personal experience. We currently have a "sign up sheet" in the foyer, and men young and old are signing up to be considered as deacons. I'd much rather see older men, possibly retirees, who have been married for 25+ years, have a lot of personal experience in solving family relationship problems, issues with bosses and co-workers, neighbors, etc., and know their Bible much better than the kids do to serve as deacons. The young guys need to serve in other church roles - teach BS (sorry, my dispy joke), run the softball team, or whatever for years and gain some experience and knowledge before they try to help middle-aged couples solve heart wrenching problems with their marriage or teen-aged/young adult children, etc.

My daughter goes to a Christian school at a Baptist church, but it is run differently. The church provides the campus and buildings, my guess is gratis, but the school has a separate board of directors and is pretty much self-funded through tuitions.

What did you do to get yourself and your family tossed out? (I think my asst. pastor has me in his sights for making fun of Ken Hamm or AIG and taking an old-earth creationist position).

Dave

BigD

chrisliv's picture

Yeah,

Roderick has observations (critical ones) that seek to address foundational flaws in state-incorporated religious organizations.

And here is an example of a poor foundation that did not stand a sudden change in weather.

It is well-known here already that I'm strongly opposed to the Body of Christ being conformed to follow the pattern of the Body of the State, through state-incorporation and the federal 501 (c) 3 status.

But besides that, and based only on the brief information provided, that particular group seems to have suffered from a lack of spiritual understanding and training for all of those many years.

So, when a time of testing came they did not have the maturity level (individually and collectively) to pass the test.

It's a valid question about whether the two parties have learned anything.

Maybe their failed lesson will be a prompting event that leads some of them to look at those foundational flaws in the structure, the pattern, and the Mind of their bodies.

Peace to you all,
C. Livingstone

JL's picture

Chris,

Being a 501 (c) 3 corporation is irrelevant to this issue. I've seen non-501 (c) 3 churches split similarly. It's purely ego. I've even seen non-501 (c) 3 churchs wind up in court over this sort of split.

What's surprising to me is that those in power left. Usually, the slight majority would have been forced to change alliances or be forced. This one fact seems very strange to me.

JL

Blessings,

JL Vaughn
Beyond Creation Science

chrisliv's picture

Sure,

A non state-incorporated body is no guarantee against parasitic egos. Especially since virtually all of the members of a non-incorporated church group are quasi-corporations themselves.

A friend of mine was a pastor of a state-incorporated Mennonite fellowship, and he told the congregation that he felt God was leading him to discard any use of a US Social Security #. Of course, the congregation fired him immediately.

But the 501 (c) 3 is very relevant, and helps to further corrupt parasitic egos. State incorporation obscures the pattern laid down for governing the Body of Christ. I believe it removes Christ as Head.

Those in "power" (Board of Directors) of the state corporation had to socially concede the point and accept the fact that the majority was against them, or to take nearly half of the membership and leave in order to continue to exercise the power granted to them by the State in a way that they wanted to.

A vote to disfellowship/excommunicate a member from participation with a non-profit state corporation is a breech-of-contract and can be easily overturned by the convening Head of the corporation, the State Attorney General.

So even if the vast majority voted to oust (excommunicate) the founding pastor, it would be a violation of group's Articles of Incorporation, which promises to adhere to the laws and policies of the State. And the State no longer allows it's corporations or residents to engage in involuntary servitude and other acts of discrimination on the basis of religion, creed, etc.

What very few church-goers seem to understand is that all non-profit state corporations (churches) are created by the State for the General Welfare of the State, not for the General Welfare of the Body of Christ, or to glorify of God.

People who form a religiously-oriented state corporation are given special benefits, tax-exemptions, and limited-liability for themselves. These perks apply to the "clergy" and certain other "administrators" only.

But the special advantages offered by the State to its incorporated Agents are granted to virtually any of its non-profit organizations, like: Masonic Lodges, Athletic Association, Educational Organizations, Health Care Institutions, Wiccan Orders, and other Religious groups.

So, you see, a state corporation can sometimes appear to follow a pattern established by Jesus Christ for quite some time. But then a time of testing comes, and the true character of of a body is revealed.

The "Church Split" was prompted by an issue over whether the state-incorporate Baptist school was worth keeping, or not.

People get what they want, generally speaking. I'll bet that both sides of the Split will too. And they may even come back togather in order to do so.

Peace to you,
C. Livingstone

Roderick's picture

Brother Livingstone,

We are finally on your topic, I hope here you can interact without reason for removal of your posts. BUT, may I say that there need not be any talk about Satan controlling incorporated churches, (which to your credit you have not brought up here as of yet) Most congregations (as they are comprised of humans) do a good enough job of poor testimony on their own without any Satanic influence. :) But if we may can we focus on texts such as 1 Cor 11:17-19:

"In the following directives I [Paul] have no praise for you [The congregation at Corinth], for your meetings do more harm than good. In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God's approval."

Of these 2 groups that I've displayed in the article, the one group remained. The one group stayed open to fellowship. In this case it appears the the other group is showing themselves to be unapproved. For all their talk of Christian love it dwindles quickly over a single matter.

You are absolutely correct to question the validity of the state-incorporation of churches. Do churches behave like companies because they are treated like companies?

It is my opinion (based on the fact that I believe the Bible teaches the church is universal) that those who left the former congregation are in error. Could you imagine groups of first century christians leaving Corinth and going to Ephesus over these troubles and simply picking up where they left off? Do you not think the people at Ephesus or one of the Apostles would have told the people to return to Corinth and resolve their differences?

Obviously, brother Livingstone I write these things not to question you but to lay out the questions before us all, so please don't take it wrongly.

It is time that we really begin to look at these things, and what better time then now with a group of Christians that are supposed to be understanding the glorious consumation of God's plan. Preterists are suppose to not be advocates of postponement. Nor are we supposed to be advocates of a partial realization. Let us see where this all takes us.

Thanks for being patient with us brother Livingstone

In the name and glory of Christ Jesus, King of kings,
Roderick

saint's picture

Unfortunatly, Big ego's and lack of humility is and will always be part of humanity no matter if you are part of a Christian body or not. We can always find fault with anything if we look long enough. We would certianly be alot better off if all of us didn't have our own agend's in mind. But most of us if not all of us will at some point have to face that fact. Somehow we as the body of Christ need to focus more on Christ then on the motives of those around us. I realize that in a fallen world that is virtually impossible, but if we are to be anything close to what Christ was and is then we must. No I don't have any solutions in and of myself, but I do know where the solution is and that is found in every human heart, (PHIL.2:3) DO NOTHING OUT OF SELFISH AMBITION OR VAIN CONCEIT, BUT IN HUMILITY CONCIDER OTHERS BETTER THEN YOURSELVES).

saint's picture

Excellent points sparky! Hope nobody misses what you're saying. Thanks for the reminder.
Dan

chrisliv's picture

I am in full agreement with Roderick on this. I watched his progression from questions to solidity (at least more than before) on this issue. I am glad to see it. As I said before, setting up the corporate body was done by Apostles...problem #1.
Then there was the purpose it was set up. Just read Timothy, to keep them focused UNTIL He returned...problem #2.
Now we have the division, for which Paul scolded the Corinthians and said they would be better off not meeting at all.

Fact is people just don't know what to do without the corporate body today and many wouldn't know how to "make a living." So sad that is what drives the "clergy" to continue in it...financial dependance.

I actually attend a church, or now just the Tuesday small group. I love it. We are talking about the book Purpose Driven Life. SO far i like what it has to say about daily life and needing one another, as real brothers, as a real community. We should have each others back. We should be a light to our community. Not by saying "Jesus love you," but by being an example. Being that one man at work who DOESN'T judge the next guy, but loves him. By being the personwho can be counted on to feed a hungry friend when resources allow, to pick up a brother on the side of the road, to lend out your extra car, to take in that family member who has been given up on by his mother but needs love and Christ's truth in his life, even though he may challenge you and take lots of patience. WE, the people, are the church. United with those before us IN CHRIST, who lives and breaths in and with us, NOT through linear church history.

Denominations and preterist leanings should not unite us, love should.

God Bless,
Nate

Sam's picture

Roderick,

Here we go again. Name some bad examples and then illogically infer that they are all bad. How many divorces can I cite that are bad, then infer that marriage is the problem! This is precisely the Homosexual argument. Since Paul said we are all one in Christ, and that there is no male or female in Christ, and that 'in that age they shall not be married nor given in marriage' then all marriage is bad, since there are divorces. In short: If you want to end divorces, end marriage altogether. I mean, these mini-popes (husbands) act like they are the 'head' of the wife and the kids (how dare they, Christ and Christ alone is the head). Since Christ alone is the head, the husband cannot be the head of anything for that would usurp Christ. As far as wedding rings (Roman Catholic symbolism), take them off and pawn them for cash. We are all 'married' to Jesus, not to each other, and it is a shame that Christian men can think that they are heads of Christian women. They are brothers and sisters with the Lord, and a piece of paper and few vows are entirely meaningless. If the wife 'appointed' a self-professed 'husband - head', she was simply wrong. I say, free sex, free love, and end this ancient institution of marriage since we cannot reflect living in this age while still entrapped in this old barbaric institution of marriage. Why, oh why, are Christians getting so upset about homosexuals getting 'married'?

I would like to hear your response to the SPECIFICS of this argument, then compare it to the church. If you say that I cannot compare the church to marriage, then tell Paul that, since he quite explicitly made the comparison. Marriage IS the model of church life and living. We have talked about this before, and you were quite explicit that you affirmed the existence of the church on earth, today. However, you never answer what it does, what it looks like, how it is ran and what to do.

Pastor Samuel Frost
Christ Covenant Church
Lent, 2004

Roderick's picture

Wow Sam, I really didn't expect this response from you. I no where indicated the dissolution of the church but rather in THIS article confirmed that I believe in it's existence:
"The Church was always and is still universal."
So I'm not so certain why you responded this way. Further I tried to temper any idea that I was merely citing a "one bad apple ruins the whole bunch" example as you have claimed here.

The post by saint/Dan was right on target. If anything I'm questioning how a body that is universal can ever be split? It is like an individual plucking his or her limbs off and declaring he or she is still whole. The use of the analogy of divorce and split was suppose to drive home the utter contradiction in the idea that the church could ever be so divided. Such an idea leads to conclusions like Harold Camping's (that God has rejected the church and will destroy it). I am NOT saying that.

Your association of a pastor as being the husband of the church is a little troublesome since the Bible clearly says Christ IS the husband of the church. You work it out brother.

Your response only invokes more questions, such as who now is sitting in Moses' seat? (Mt 23:1-3) I didn't mean for this article to turn into such questioning but your response illicits more questions.

your brother in the universal Body of Christ, now joined forever with His Bride,
Roderick

saint's picture

Samuel

You're asking Roderick to give the answers when he actually is the one asking the question. He asked "What is the church supposed to look like today?" and you're asking him to give the answers.

Maybe we need to look closer at the marriage analogy. The way I see it is that the church is the bride of Christ. So how can we compare a church split to a divorce unless the whole church splits from Christ? If a split congregation is a part of the marriage, is it a partial divorce? Either the analogy breaks down or there really is something wrong with the makeup of the church today. I can't partially divorce my wife any more than the bride can partially divorce Christ. Can the bride even break the covenant? Surely not in the case of the church. So why the splits if we are doing "church" correctly?

I think that may be Roderick's question. Why so many splits, so many congregations if the church is of the same body? Can this be right or are we doing something wrong?

Sorry I don't have the answer. Just more questions. I think this needs to be explored, though. Every congregation I've been involved in, save one, has had this problem (no, it's not me).

Dan

JL's picture

Dan,

I think you missed a previous "discussion" between Sam and Roderick. Given that history, it is not unreasonable for Sam to assume the question was semi-rhetorical. Sam has an answer. Sam gave that answer. Roderick refused to consider that answer. Why? Because Roderick has an answer and it is different from Sam's.

JL

Blessings,

JL Vaughn
Beyond Creation Science

saint's picture

JL

I've read the previous "discussions". Maybe I missed it but I don't see Sam's answer. Perhaps you could point it out.

Dan

JL's picture

Well then Dan, I guess you didn't recognize it for what it was.

Sam believes the "corporate church" is biblical. Roderick denies this.

Here Sam was trying to show by analogy why the corporate church is biblical. Roderick's response here shows that Roderick's mind is so hardened against the concept that he can't even recognize the analogy and respond to it.

Roderick demonstrated that he was asking a rhetorical question, or at least one he felt was rhetorical.

The book BigD mentioned discusses the form of the early church. It had a local corporate structure. This is well documented by the early church itself.

Roderick denies the validity of this evidence because all Chritians were raptured and what was left were a bunch of heretics, power seekers, and on-lookers. They were not the true church because the true church was gone. As a result, the corporate church in any form is wrong (after AD 70).

I wish Roderick were right. But he isn't. Unfortunately the corporate church is the true church, except that it is easily corrupted by heretics and power seekers.

If Roderick were right, I'd just quit trying to deal with these people and go do something else. It would be a lot easier.

Unfortunately, Sam is right on this issue. So I'm determined to keep banging my head against the wall, I mean trying to find a corporate church. Know of any good ones near Disneyland?

JL

Blessings,

JL Vaughn
Beyond Creation Science

Roderick's picture

JL wrote:
Roderick denies the validity of this evidence because all Chritians were raptured and what was left were a bunch of heretics, power seekers, and on-lookers.
Actually JL, I have never embraced the concept that the church was raptured. I think you are confusing me with Ed Stevens or others. Nor do I say the corporate church isn't the true church. The problem stems the other way around. I'm sick of seeing groups (corporate or otherwise) claiming the other is not the true church. What is worse is the "Moses' seat" mentality that seems to convey certain people currently sit in the seat of Moses (ie Pope, pastor,...). Mt 23:1-3.

With all due respect JL, please go back and read through the discussions. I do not advocate what you claim I do.
Roderick

saint's picture

If the corporate church is correct then why are you having trouble finding one? There are many around Disneyland. You say the corporate church is the true church. Well, there is no trouble finding a corporate church to join. Now if the corporate church is corrupted I have trouble calling it the true church. I have trouble calling the bride of Christ corrupted.

I must seem really confused to you. Sorry. This issue tends to raise more questions than answers. Every answer seems to raise more questions.

I happen to agree with Roderick at least as far as saying this really needs discussion. I've had issues in the past with many questions, and I thank God for the brothers who had the patience to stay with me in the search for answers. The bond that comes out of that is unbelievable. So I commend you for not taking the easy way out. That is how many splits happen.

Dan

BigD's picture

Why don't you try the Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa? :)

BigD

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