Monday, January 03, 2011

Does ecclesiology matter?

I found the following video and had to share it with you all. Ann Coulter describes her unique experience of growing up in the Church. Take a look:

All of that explanation and description of different experiences and traditions culminating in 'We don't have to go to church!' Hmmm. What does Coulter's experience reveal about what people may ultimately think about Church? It seems to me that she projects the idea that Church doesn't matter. What matters is that Jesus died for our sins.

Being a blog that is dedicated to worship and the Church, how do we respond to this? How do we respond to people who say, 'Church doesn't matter'?

Happy New Year!



Lily Robinson said...

First, we acknowledge the truth in her statement. We don't HAVE to go to church. There is nothing in the Bible that says, "Go to church or go to hell."

Second, we explain why we DO go to church.

Third, we tell them that Jesus wants us to go to church... "Do not forsake gathering together."

Sarah said...

One thought that comes to mind is from Marva Dawn -- she says when our children complain about having to go to church we should respond that we do not go to church, we are the church, and we come together so that we might better learn and live out what it means to BE the church (my paraphrase)...

Rene said...

I have to wonder, If going to church is so peripheral to being a Christian, why is it that so many Christians risk their lives to gather together on a regular basis?

I'm afraid that our individualistic culture and freedom has warped our perspective on church attendance.
It's not something we must do; rather, it's something we are privileged to do as part of the body of Christ.

Eric + said...

Is it better to be biblically ignorant, or biblically informed and theologically inept?

BThomas said...

Eric I am stealing that!

I think this is something that Protestants in general struggle with but I think especially Protestants with a revivalistic camp meeting background. By that I mean, that one of the, if not the purpose of camp meetings was to get people saved. When the camp meeting model became our model of worship we carried forward the idea that the purpose of the worship was to get people "saved." From that comes the seeker sensitive movement and too often a singular focus on the lost. Which forces us to ask, if worship is about getting people saved then the only reason we need to go if we are already saved is to take unsaved friends with us, or cheer on the Holy Spirit as he works on the unsaved among us.

We miss the idea that worship is our response to what God has done, and yes we don't HAVE TO, but why wouldn't we want to. It almost seems as if the Spirit of God in us would compel us to. I think Rene's point is a valid one and I believe ecclesiology matters greatly.



Todd Stepp said...

So many responses . . . .

As others have said, we don't "go to church," we are the Church which (fundamental to our existence)gathers to worship our God.

Do we have to go to church? - Do we "have to" in order to do/be what? That is, what is the basis for the question?

Legalisticall, no, we don't "have to." Yet, if we want to be followers of Christ, then, in a very real way, we do "have to" gather to worship (assuming the ability to do so). For one, there is the command that Lily quotes. (Do we really have faith in Christ as Lord, if we choose to "be lord" by ignoring His command?)

There is the patern of the NT & early Church. There is the essence (again!) of who we are AS the Church. We are the worshipping people of God. If we are not the worshipping people of God, I would argue we are not the Church. If we are not the Church, are we Christian? Our baptism baptizes us into the Body of Christ, the Church.

Beyond that, if the Body (of Christ), the Church, is the Temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16), and if God inhabits the praise of God's people, why would anyone (i.e., a "Christian")want to be anywhere other than where the Holy Spirit is (i.e., in the Church gathered to worship God)!

It is that part that i don't get. To be fair, she says that she does "go to church," but the question raised is, why would anyone not want to, do everything that they can to gather with the Church, the Body of Christ to worship in Spirit and Truth the One we claim to be God?

Eric + said...


I addressed some of this in my sermon for Christmas 1. I just posted it on my blog (linked in the sidebar). The fear of death vs. glory of God idea is not mine, it came from "The Changing Face of World Missions" by Popcock, Van Rheenen, and McConnel.

PS. This book is not a recommended read, but even not-so-good books have some redeeming nuggets!

SusanU said...

Brian, your description of church fits my experience well. It got to the point where I hated church because of this empphasis. One day when I was home sick from church, I realized that everything that happened at church today I could get at home [sermon, songs, announcements] except for communion. Now, I look forward to church because I have found one that serves it every Sunday.

BThomas said...

Todd if there was a "Like" button I would click it after your post.

Dave Belcher said...

I think we tell folks what St. Paul told the church dwelling at Corinth: "Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it" (1 Cor 12:27), and we remind them that, "The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I have no need of you,' nor again the head to the feet, 'I have no need of you'" (1 Cor 12:21). That is, we tell folks that this "arrangement" of "many members, yet one body," wherein we are each of us dependent not only on one another but on the very grace of God, is the result not of our choosing, but of God's (again, cf. v. 18). And for this reason, the ancient understanding of the ekklesia as "assembly" (not at all unrelated to the term "synagogue" meaning gathered together) is one based on the notion that it is *the Holy Spirit* who gathers us into union with one another by being united through the power of the same Spirit to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I don't think this is an overly abstract answer either. My point is simply to say that it is not our "job" to go to church, but we go to church because we have *already* been gathered together (from out of the scattered Adam -- to use one of Augustine's favored images), preeminently through baptism (as Todd so helpfully pointed out). So, as Sarah said, we don't go to church, we are the church (so the appropriate reply to those saying, "You don't need to go to church" is: "Do you not know that all who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into his death"? -- well, that and a bit more perhaps!). And to these points we must immediately add Christ's promise: "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there in the midst of them" (Matt 18:20). Our assurance of being church is not because we have a purpose for gathering that we are here attempting to fulfill by our own merits, then, but because Christ's presence by the power of the Spirit makes us who we are: bread and wine, body and blood -- gifts taken, blessed, broken, and given away for the life of the world.

Mismindles said...

I have come to realize over the last few months as I've been reading an old seminary book titled "A Summary of Christian History" (by Baker) that the "church" as we know it is rubbish. This is not at ALL what God had in mind and certainly does not replicate the churches in Acts, no matter how much we want to convince ourselves it odes. There were no pastors! Pastor was a verb. There were elders who oversaw, and they were men of upstanding character-much older, not young men fresh out of seminary. Everyone participated in the sharing of the worship through sharing the word (letters mostly) prayer, song, prophesy, healing etc.

I have spent my whole life thinking that I needed to attend a building filled with people who don't really come to worship, but come out of habit-some saved, some not, some use to be, but got lazy and really don't have a relationship with Christ anymore so to say, and it seems to me this building we call the church is the reason for most of what is wrong with Christianity today.

I attend a building-so I am not ANTI-establishment, but here is what I have come to realize.....

CHruch is gathering with other believers to share our needs, concerns, read his word, worship etc. I do not need a building for that. I can meet a friend at McDonalds, pray with them, share a meal and have a bible study and I have had "church".

About a year ago, I started a Bible study with some friends and family. We ate together, talked about our week, prayed together, prayed for each other, and shared scripture together and testimony. All of us wanted to be there. All of us truly care for one another and hold each other up in prayer throughout the week. And we look for ways to help others in our community.

SO who is really having church? The building full of people or our small group? Both. but our small group has no slackers. No one comes to our Bible study and does not participate. You don't get to slack off like you can in a big church.

I just feel like there is all this emphasis on "chruch" when most of us know that means in a BUILDING. I think Ann is saying that you don't have to attend a building to be a christian. As long as we are gathering with other believers, there is no need to attend a church BUILDING and when my kids graduate I will move to a home church and forget the building altogether.