Sunday, January 18, 2009

unChurch...or antiChurch?

In recent days, we at The unChurch have taken a few rotten tomatoes from the gallery. So just what would provoke these good townsfolk to anger, especially against the gentle "monks of the unChurch abbey?"

The name, for starters. For certain beloved brothers deeply imbedded in the "Religious-Industrial Complex", the mere name "the unChurch", is like a bee in their bonnets. (Or perhaps in their turbans?)

But The unChurch is not anti-church, and neither is our name. Like, 7up the Uncola...is that anti-soda? Come on boys and girls, it's all soda and it arrives on the same truck. If we were anti-church, I think we would have called ourselves something creative. Like, The antiChurch! It's not like we were too shy to say so.

Let me break it down. "The Church", in the biblical sense, is (1) the holy temple God assembles (2) out of individual believers, (3) each filled and led by the holy spirit, (4) each reporting directly to Jesus, (5) all joined & fit together in him by bonds of love, (6) functioning according to how each member does it's part, and (7) displaying God's rule of love to the whole world. Did I miss anything?

In that sense, "The Church" is Christ's body, the incarnation of God on his earth. Amen dat. History backs me up: when men band together to form "a church", this is not how it goes down. Jesus winds up more like a mascot than a coach. The Holy Spirit's violent wind and tongues of fire get pressed between the pages of plans and programs, agendas and ambitions. And we're not about dat.

Thus, we are not a church. We're an "unChurch".

Go ahead and do the church thing. I go to "a church" myself, and it's cool. But if you'd mistake "a church" for "the church", you'd best listen again to what God says: "The Most High does not live in houses made by men. 'Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord. Or where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things?" (Acts 7:48-49. Note that the guy who said it immediately got stoned by the religious-industrial complex. Why does this make me smile?)
JB

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33 comments:

scott said...

We're taking back the word "ekklesia" because the English translation has been broken and redefined incorrectly. Shoot, I use it incorrectly even with my own kids sometimes.

"The Most High does not live in houses made by men. 'Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me?"

Of course Stephen was quoting Isaiah 66. And the prophet quoting God back then knew that the people would build God a house anyway, because they demanded it, just like they demanded a king. Pretty soon after that, they've got him in a box. A shiny gold box with mega-power that Indiana Jones would totally dig, but a box nonetheless.

I don't put the word "church" up on a pedestal only because, by broad definition, it doesn't mean the same thing as the original ekklesia anymore.

Tonya said...

My husband and I went to a church yesterday morning and were deeply disappointed. They pushed free coffee more than Jesus. No one spoke to us, and most of the congregation was on auto-pilot ... there because they were supposed to be there. We have determined that we don't need to go to a church for spiritual growth, but we are still looking for a fellowship of believers for two reasons. First, for our children. They aren't as learned as us in the Bible, God's will or the ways of the world, so listening to a message from a grownup that is not one of their evil parents and with other kids their ages would be good for them. Second, we'd like to find people that view Jesus the way we do. We don't expect to find a church full of them, but if we found a few, we could have good discussions, fellowship, support and love in person, instead of always over the internet.
And we have an ulterior motive. We'd like to have our very own unchurch some day. Where better to find hungry Christians or the lost than at a church.

darin said...

un- and anti-
maybe we should discuss also what is unbiblical and what is antibiblical with people as well - i know so many that can't seem to get this straight - especially dogmatic 6 day creationists

Christi R said...

Well said, Joe. And like Darin said "un" vs. "anti" seems pretty simple to me. Of course I'm not a big "church" person anyway, so I just can't understand taking offense at it.

Joe B said...

I have been continually amused by this. People who are not heavily invested in "church" always get it, right off. People who are invested in church fall face-first over it and get defensive.

I met a lady with a very un-respectable job. She really enjoyed talking about Jesus. On her napkin I wrote out the unchurchblog address. Immediately she said: "A church for people like me, huh?" I say, "It's not exactly a church, you know." She nods. She knows. "Yeah, exactly."

Of such is the kingdom of God. (But we wouldn't want to offend any pharisees, would we now?)

"The prostitutes and tax collectors are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you..."
(Matthew 21:31)

Joe B said...

Darin mentions dogmatic 6-Day guys. They stand out from the crowd, but it seems to me that the common thread is that they put certain parts of the scripture above the whole. Honestly, is the most important thing you can find in the first 6 chapters of Genesis an argument with evolution?

Yesterday I heard a famous man on the radio saying that if "we" let the authority of the bible slip away on this point, then all the authority of the Word crumbles. What??

Let me shout this: God does not exist because the bible said so; the heavens and earth exist because God said so. I do not believe in God because the bible told me I must. God does not need the bible to prove anything, ever, period.

"The earth trembles at his presence, the world and all who live in it." (Nahum 1:5)

Larry Gwaltney said...

Let me break it down. "The Church", in the biblical sense, is (1) the holy temple God assembles (2) out of individual believers, (3) each filled and led by the holy spirit, (4) each reporting directly to Jesus, (5) all joined & fit together in him by bonds of love, (6) functioning according to how each member does it's part, and (7) displaying God's rule of love to the whole world. Did I miss anything?

Yes, you did. The Church preaches the Gospel, performs the Sacraments, and exercises spiritual discipline. And as for the last two things, those are functions the "unchurch" can never do.

scott said...

Hi Larry! Good to hear from you.

Why can't I exercise spiritual discipline and perform the sacraments?

Larry Gwaltney said...

Why can't I exercise spiritual discipline and perform the sacraments?

Are you talking about yourself? Exercise church discipline over yourself? Sort of begs the question, doesn't it?

You can't perform the sacraments unless you are part an existing church authority,.have subjected yourself to, been examined by, and commissioned by that same authority. The Magisterium of the Church (its commission to preach and guard the Gospel and the Word) the administration of the Sacraments, and the exercise of church discipline are Calvin's "marks of the True Church," and belong to it alone.

The people here (and I'm afraid, you too) are operating from a false dichotomy: Either take a low view of the Church, or failing that, accept the "fact" that you think God lives in a "box." I think that Jesus, the Apostles, the Church Fathers, the Westminster Divines, etc., would be very surprised to be told that they believed that God "lives in a box."

They claim here that the term "UnChurch" does not mean "against the Church." Well, if that's the case, why isn't this site called "the UnChevrolet," or: "the UnBicycle?" It may as well be, right?

The answer, of course, is that a "point" would never be made, nor a hobby horse ever ridden. When we call something "unbiblical," for instance, does that mean simply "not in the Bible," like baseball scores or Quantum Mechanics? No, it means something very different, As does "unChurch."

Christopher said...

It seems that you have a strong set of experiences with various churches that have disappointed you.

This disappointment seems to overshadow you when you read the Bible, when you describe talks with other people, when you critique the churches you visit, and when you imagine that it is God's goal for Christians in this century to go back in time and start from scratch.

I have always found it poor taste when people go to a wedding banquet and criticize the appearance of the bride to the groom's face.

Your desire to be an un-bride may mean that you have forgotten that even bridesmaids (who imagine themselves more suitable to marry) don't criticize the bride. Maybe you should just eat cake at home and leave Jesus and his people alone. He chose the church to be his bride, and while you may make a different choice, many people will prefer his taste over yours.

Many people approach their families the way you are aproaching the church. It makes the individual feel better, but usually only temporarily. I am sorry that you have found only so much frustration in the body of Christ, and fear that you may infect some others with the same animus, making disciples more like you than the apostles of Jesus.

Christopher

Anonymous said...

Hi Larry.

unAvailable
unBuried
unCertified
unDressed
unExplained
unFounded
unGrown
unHeralded
unInhabited...

...unQualified?

S-o-L-A C-a-L-vi-N

Anonymous said...

Christahper ROCKZ. Im sicka the "love" and "Jesus" nd "faith" crapp on this stupid blog. Like, does these pukes relly beleiv the crapp? Like church is gods bodywhat a joke. Its cool U jus go postal on these jesus .creeps. High 5ers to the Christa-Blaster! wing- maaan!!

Anonymous said...

Spiritual Discipline... "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
Indigo Montoyo

Christi R said...

Ok, I'm only speaking for myself here, but I'm not sure Larry or Christopher really get the point of the unChurch or of this blog, but that's ok... everyone is entitled to their own opinion. My opinion is that going to Church doesn't make you a Christian or even a better Christian than those who don't. I am admittedly not a church person, that doesn't mean I don't have a relationship with God and that I don't try to strenghten that relationship and my faith. I'm also not saying (and I don't really think anyone else here is either)that "church" doesn't have an important place in some people's lives; it just doesn't work for everyone. I don't think the unChurch, the blog or most of the people who have posted here are "anti" church. I know that for me personally - I'm trying to expand my faith, learn from others and have good discussions and debate. And I personally have never had an really bad experience with any churches so it's not like something bad happened that turned me away. Well, that's what I have to say on the matter.

Larry said...

My opinion is that going to Church doesn't make you a Christian or even a better Christian than those who don't.

All other things being equal, attending church DOES make you a better Christian than those who don't, because it means you're an obedient Christian.

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:25

You also greatly misunderstand the role of the Sacraments. It's simply foolish to reject the taking of Communion, for instance, for the reason that "the church doesn't work for everyone." Christ DIED for the Church. He sent his Spirit to instruct, guide and protect His Bride. How could the Church NOT "work for everyone?"

scott said...

I suppose I'm sitting somewhere between the edges of Larry and Christi here. I most definitely DO think that we must not give up meeting together, and that having a "body" of other Christians around us is vital -- loving together, serving together, teaching and learning together.

However, I just don't believe that the Biblical call for it looks very close to how the vast majority of institutional churches function today. I suppose by definition, most churches qualify as "meeting together," and that's great. There's nothing wrong with that. However, I'm not always sure how it qualifies any moreso than meeting in my basement or at the neighborhood bar. We already talk about Jesus in those places, let's work in some worship songs too!

The funny thing is that The unChurch is ALL about meeting together -- seriously, community is one of our main focuses, and we're all practically ready to move in together and start pulling others into the commune.

I guess I do wonder about the sacraments issue, though. As far as communion is concerned, does this mean we can't remember Jesus's sacrifice over some bread and soup at Joe's house? Is that only unofficial communion, because it hasn't been administered by someone who gets paid to do so? And what does "existing church authority" mean? Existing since when? Pre-1990? Pre-Martin Luther?

I've taken the tiny cracker and half-swallow o' juice at different churches, oh, about 723 times in my 30+ years. That's 723 "communion thoughts" and 723 individual prayer-moments. No doubt I'll do it another 1000+ times before I kick the bucket. However, the times I've sat on a couch in someone's house and actually broken bread with other people, talking about Jesus and with Jesus as we eat and sing together, doing it in remembrance of Him... THAT has seemed much closer to Luke 22, and it has been much more memorable to me as well.

For the record, I don't take a low view of the ekklesia at all. I love both God and his bride passionately.

Tonya said...

The funny thing is that The unChurch is ALL about meeting together -- seriously, community is one of our main focuses, and we're all practically ready to move in together and start pulling others into the commune.
Thanks for that Scott. I don't think Larry is seeing the difference between THE church that Jesus died for and A church that has become something different. I am part of THE church and support it wholeheartedly. I'm not saying all churches are bad; I'm just saying it is hard to find one that is on the right track. Are there good churches? Sure, I've been to some. Do they meet some people's needs? You bet. But not going to one of those churches does not make me less obedient to God ... that is the very reason some people don't go to A church -- because they don't want to be judged. My relationship with God is a personal one. When He tells me when and where to attend church, I will (and do ... see previous post).
But as far as I know, God doesn't keep attendance records, and if He did, I'm not so sure he'd put any of us in charge of it. Just look what happens.
This post - this blog - is part of THE church, and like any church, there will be people who disagree. The point (if I may be so bold to speak for the head unChurchers) is to bring believers together to discuss these differences and to learn from one another, to build our faith. Whether I agree or don't, these exchanges with fellow believers work to strengthen my relationship with my Savior. So, keep posting and keep commenting, but remember the point ... this IS church for some people and I won't bash yours if you don't bash mine.

Joe B said...

Wow, I go off to work to earn my dollar. Then I come home to find the place surrounded by black-hooded inquisitors! Brimming with love and joy, I see.

Good thing they arrived in time to rescue God. And to make sure nobody inherits eternal life incorrectly. Close call, Larry & Christopher. I'm amazed Jesus managed so well without you.

It's incredible how you two drop out of the sky (within 3 minutes of each other, yet) ranting about stuff you seem to be picking out of thin air. Is this what following Jesus means to you?

(Maybe next you'll try slashing tires in the name of the Lord?)

Joe B said...

Okay, someone's gonna tell me to apologize to Larry-n-Christopher, so here goes.

Sorry Larry-n-Christopher.

We welcome you into our kitchen. But remember: "Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

Not every blog on the Internet is devoted to re-igniting the 100 Years War. This one is about following Jesus.

Anonymous said...

"I have always found it poor taste when people go to a wedding banquet and criticize the appearance of the bride to the groom's face."

Dude, what kinda weddings to you go to, anyway?

Larry Gwaltney said...

I suppose by definition, most churches qualify as "meeting together," and that's great. There's nothing wrong with that. However, I'm not always sure how it qualifies any moreso than meeting in my basement or at the neighborhood bar.

Now, compare that remark with this:

For the record, I don't take a low view of the ekklesia at all.

If you don't see the difference between congregating for worship as a body of believers (the church) and a Beth Moore Bible Study, then that's a major problem. One of the sources of that problem is here:

As far as communion is concerned, does this mean we can't remember Jesus's sacrifice over some bread and soup at Joe's house?

One of the difficulties here is an extremely superficial understanding of what "Communion" means. It goes far beyond simply "remembering Jesus' sacrifice." The reason the Reformers debated and discussed the issue of the "Real Presence" of Christ is that there is a powerful spiritual dynamic that is taking place among worthy participants.

This sacrament, along with Baptism, are extremely significant activities in the covenant community. Baptism, for instance, is far more than "making a public statement" about your faith. You are ratifying the covenant with Christ, and neglecting it or downplaying its significance is a grave mistake.

Larry Gwaltney said...

Wow, I go off to work to earn my dollar. Then I come home to find the place surrounded by black-hooded inquisitors!

I would suggest trying an argument next time, instead of name-calling.

Close call, Larry & Christopher. I'm amazed Jesus managed so well without you.

Hmm. I'm beginning to discern a pattern, here.

It's incredible how you two drop out of the sky (within 3 minutes of each other, yet) ranting about stuff you seem to be picking out of thin air.

Directly quoting you is "ranting about stuff you seem to be picking out of thin air?" Really?

(Maybe next you'll try slashing tires in the name of the Lord?)

And...back to the same well.

Larry Gwaltney said...

We welcome you into our kitchen. But remember: "Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

Interesting how you reconcile that with calling people "black hooded inquisitors," accusing them of "ranting" and suggesting they go around "slashing tires."

Larry Gwaltney said...

I don't think Larry is seeing the difference between THE church that Jesus died for and A church that has become something different.

It's called the "invisible church" and the "visible church," and I can assure you that covenant theologians understand the difference.

Are there good churches? Sure, I've been to some. Do they meet some people's needs? You bet. But not going to one of those churches does not make me less obedient to God ...

I'm very much afraid it does. By refusing to take Communion, worship, submitting yourself to a church authority, etc., you are rebelling against God. There is no other word for it.

The bizarre thing is that several people here have been making the same remarks, while at the same time they claim they are not "anti-church." Rejecting God's covenant community IS ANTI-CHURCH.

My relationship with God is a personal one. When He tells me when and where to attend church, I will.

He already HAS told you, in His Word.

But as far as I know, God doesn't keep attendance records.

He does, among other things. The Bible says that everyone will have to give a full account in Judgment, and attendance in a local body is certainly one of those aspects.

This post - this blog - is part of THE church..

No, it most certainly is NOT "part of THE church." I work for a parachurch organization, and while we have been called alongside the Church to help its international mission, this organization is NOT a substitute for worship, subjection to church discipline, or partaking of communion and being baptized. That's why we require people who work here to attend the church of their choice, to make sure that there is no confusion about that.

You can't make the remarks that you (and others here) have made and at the same time claim you are not "anti-church." Church is not something you can exempt yourselves from, any more than the ancient Israelites could have rejected circumcisions and their variety of sacrifices.

Christopher said...

I see that we may disagree. People may question your other analysis if they think you approach all topics the way you insta-analysed Larry and me.

This topic is important, so I don't mind if we speak plainly with one another.

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12...

21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; or again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." 22 On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; 23 and those members of the body, which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our unseemly members come to have more abundant seemliness, 24 whereas our seemly members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, 25 that there should be no division in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.

Every branch of the church labels a different set of their brothers and sisters as unseemly and without honor, and we faction ourselves in too many directions. Paul's summary of this tendency is not however to affirm the trend, but to rebuke it.

As disciples of Jesus, seeking to follow his words to us through his designated and empowered apostles, we are presumptuous to imagine that we may look at weak or humble parts of Christ's body (the christian industrial complex) and say we have no need of you. If they have done things like that to us, we reconize how painful that is, and how unhelpful.

The reason I am interacting now is because it is not the perogative of a Christian to simply let other brothers and sisters wander away from the protection and nurture offered by the visible church. From Christ's body. His witness to the community of the unifying power of His work and message.

If you prove to your own satisfaction that the church in Amrica is ruined and defective, that does not alleviate your obligation to serve the body that you find sick, because you are a member of it, with member's responsibilities. People who find a cavity in their mouth don't commit suicide. People with cancer don't either. While you and I may disagree about how sick the church in america is, St Paul's admonition applies in both cases.

Jesus' prayer in John 17 was for his disciples to be one. In that same prayer, he prayed that they be sanctified in the truth that is God's word. One prayer, two petitions (in addition to others) The clariy with which you see things may align you with God's truth in your mind, but it doesn't get you or me or anyone off the hook when it comes to the quest for unity. Jesus' own disciples were diverse enough that unity was a struggle both during his earthly ministry as well as during the apostolic days.

If submission to authorities were always an easy or obvious thing to do, it would not have been necessary to command it.

In looking over the blog site, it seems that you are the leader here. Your responsibility is greater for what you teach and for whether or not you are strengthening what God has built and commanded. I pray that you will reconsider your obligations to the church, as an expression of your obedience to Christ and his apostles.

Christopher

Tonya said...

It's called the "invisible church" and the "visible church," and I can assure you that covenant theologians understand the difference.
And I can assure you that I am assured of my salvation as much as your covenant theologians.

By refusing to take Communion, worship, submitting yourself to a church authority, etc., you are rebelling against God.
Who said I refused Communion or worship? Would it surprise you to know I participate in both? And I submit to the authority of God, not people

Rejecting God's covenant community IS ANTI-CHURCH.
I'm not rejecting anything. I'm saying that just like there are Baptists and Lutherans, there are different kinds of covenant communities. Just because mine is not like yours doesn't make it wrong.

But as far as I know, God doesn't keep attendance records.
He does, among other things. The Bible says that everyone will have to give a full account in Judgment, and attendance in a local body is certainly one of those aspects.

Wow. Now you've gone off the deep end. If you think I'm going to have a problem accounting my life to God because I didn't sit in a pew every Sunday, then we will have to agree to disagree and stop this crazy conversation now.

...this organization is NOT a substitute for worship, subjection to church discipline, or partaking of communion and being baptized.
Again, I'll disagree. I am not saying I take communion or worship on the blog. I'm saying I do it outside of a building with a steeple. Folks who participate in your organization should be recognized as members of THE church as well.

Church is not something you can exempt yourselves from, any more than the ancient Israelites could have rejected circumcisions and their variety of sacrifices.
Fortunately, I live in a time when Jesus has made the ultimate sacrifice. I'll just keep doing what he leads me to do. And you do the same.

P.S. Joe, name calling is not nice. Even when someone gets yer goat. :)

Larry Gwaltney said...

And I can assure you that I am assured of my salvation as much as your covenant theologians.

The Bible says your assurance comes from an obedient life.

Who said I refused Communion or worship? Would it surprise you to know I participate in both? And I submit to the authority of God, not people.

You're not actually participating in Communion and worship if you refuse to submit to the authority of people (the leaders of God's church). As God told Peter, "What you bind on Earth will be bound in heaven, and what you loose on Earth will be loosed in heaven."

I'm saying that just like there are Baptists and Lutherans, there are different kinds of covenant communities.

There is only ONE covenant, and ONE community. There are people from many denominations in that one covenant and community.

Wow. Now you've gone off the deep end. If you think I'm going to have a problem accounting my life to God because I didn't sit in a pew every Sunday, then we will have to agree to disagree and stop this crazy conversation now.

If you think that an accurate statement about our appearance before Christ's Judgment Seat is "off the deep end," or part of a "crazy conversation," then in fact it would be in your best interest to continue to learn from this conversation, not cut yourself off from the teachings of Christ.

Again, I'll disagree. I am not saying I take communion or worship on the blog. I'm saying I do it outside of a building with a steeple. Folks who participate in your organization should be recognized as members of THE church as well.

You aren't listening to what I'm telling you (or, more likely, don't want to hear it) but the issue is not the building or the steeple. It's the submission to a local body for admonition, instruction, discipline, the sacraments, etc. You said in your first post here that "we don't need to go to a church for spiritual growth," but your unfortunate understanding of ecclesiology (and theology in general) is an indictment of that attitude.

Fortunately, I live in a time when Jesus has made the ultimate sacrifice.

Well, unfortunately (for your argument) the New Testament isn't so dismissive of comparisons and arguments from the Old Testament (see the book of Hebrews). And if you don't understand the Old Testament, you will have a very incomplete understanding of the New.

Christi R said...

"How could the Church NOT "work for everyone?"

Well, I don't know, but I can assure you it doesn't. So sorry if that offends anyone here, but it's still a fact. I know since I'm one of them.

"All other things being equal, attending church DOES make you a better Christian than those who don't, because it means you're an obedient Christian."

Fine, then I'm a bad Christian. So be it! But I'll tell you this, I know people who go to church EVERY single Sunday AND receive communion and they aren't good people. And I find it hard to believe that you can be a good Christian without being a decent human being to begin with.

I try really hard to live a good life and be a good person; if not going to church and not receiving the sacraments makes me less Christian then I guess I'll take my lumps in the next life.

I don't really think this is an argument I can win and I'm only getting frustrated trying so I'm going to be quiet now.

Larry Gwaltney said...

Well, I don't know, but I can assure you it [the Church] doesn't [work for everyone]. So sorry if that offends anyone here, but it's still a fact. I know since I'm one of them.

Have you ever wondered why something founded by Jesus Christ, atoned for by His blood, and guided and sustained by the Holy Spirit "doesn't work for you?" Is the problem REALLY "the Church?" It seems the Church has a lot going for it.

But I'll tell you this, I know people who go to church EVERY single Sunday AND receive communion and they aren't good people.

That's where my phrase "all things being equal" comes in. While simple attendance is no guarantee of spirituality, attendance by a highly motivated and obedient believer is always better than non-attendance. Always.

I try really hard to live a good life and be a good person; if not going to church and not receiving the sacraments makes me less Christian then I guess I'll take my lumps in the next life.

Do you really want to find yourself someday saying that before the Judgment Seat of Christ? My guess would be "no."

Tonya said...

Hey Christi R, how about we get together for Bible study sometime, online? Sounds like we are bound for the same place in the afterlife, so we should get to know each other now.
I'll send you a link this weekend, if you're free, say, Sunday morning.

scott said...

There are a number of divergent ideas presented in these comments -- please know that these are all the thoughts of individuals, and no one here is speaking for someone else.

I *do* believe that, as a Christian, being a part of a larger body is a vital part of being the ekklesia. The gap in communication here, for some people, seems to be what constitutes an "existing church authority."

Does it have to be a mainline denomination? Are we talking Catholic, Baptist, and Lutherans only? Is there a size requirement? Are no new "churches" allowed? When was the cutoff for new ones?

It's obviously not size-related, because you and I both know that some 20-member house churches are more Bible-based than some 10,000-member megachurches.

The problem is that we're still talking about GOING TO church ("attendance") rather than BEING the church. The short answer is "shouldn't we do both?" Yes, we should, but those two words ("attending" and "being") have very different definitions. You can't "attend" the ekklesia. You can only BE the ekklesia.

Aha. That's what the unChurch is all about. Being the ekklesia. Loving each other, loving others. We're not telling people to AVOID church. But evangelism isn't "inviting people to attend church." Evangelism is telling people about Jesus, and inviting them to be a part of the ekklesia.

Jesus talked very little about going to church. And no, that doesn't mean it's WRONG to go to church.

Also, it seems to me that some people are making some very broad assumptions here.

I'm not sure how, all of the sudden, my taking of communion is suddenly a "superficial understanding of what Communion means." How so? Because I sometimes do it outside the walls of a multi-million dollar building? I'm quite frankly surprised to hear you say so. What on earth did I say to indicate that?

I will reiterate this, before I conclude: Being a part of a community of Christians (and yes, submitting myself to them) is something I not only SHOULD do, but I NEED. God never intended me (or you) to "go it alone" and to just try to be good and figure it out on my own. However, most current church buildings and institutions that I see around me (granted, I haven't seen all of them, maybe yours is just dandy) don't do a lot in the way of fitting the Biblical notion of ekklesia. So The unChurch aims to do something more.

I can understand the misunderstanding of the name, but what is it that I'm actually doing wrong?

Larry Gwaltney said...

The problem is that we're still talking about GOING TO church ("attendance") rather than BEING the church. The short answer is "shouldn't we do both?" Yes, we should, but those two words ("attending" and "being") have very different definitions. You can't "attend" the ekklesia. You can only BE the ekklesia.

Aha. That's what the unChurch is all about.


If this is "what the unChurch is all about," then it's all about bad theology and a poor understanding of the ekklesia. Being IN the ekklesia means PARTICIPATING in the ekklesia. If you refuse to participate, you aren't in:

"They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us." (I John 2:19)

We're not telling people to AVOID church.

Interesting, though, that people here seem to think you're saying that attendance is optional. Wonder why you are attracting people like that?

I'm not sure how, all of the sudden, my taking of communion is suddenly a "superficial understanding of what Communion means." How so? Because I sometimes do it outside the walls of a multi-million dollar building? I'm quite frankly surprised to hear you say so. What on earth did I say to indicate that?

It's a superficial understanding because you wondered why you couldn't "remember" Christ's sacrifice in other venues. The Apostles' Creed uses the term "communion of the saints." It's only under the auspices of an organized body with an ordained clergy and laity where that is possible. If Communion were merely a "memorial service" then you would have a point, but in fact it is far more, and instead, you have a problem.

I can understand the misunderstanding of the name, but what is it that I'm actually doing wrong?

Well, for starters, note that some of your followers have said this:

We have determined that we don't need to go to a church for spiritual growth...

Are there good churches? Sure, I've been to some. Do they meet some people's needs? You bet. But not going to one of those churches does not make me less obedient to God ...

My relationship with God is a personal one. When He tells me when and where to attend church, I will ...

And I submit to the authority of God, not people...


Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you. (Hebrews 13:17)

I try really hard to live a good life and be a good person; if not going to church and not receiving the sacraments makes me less Christian then I guess I'll take my lumps in the next life.

Scott, ask yourself: Why do people who say such things feel affirmed here? Here's your answer:

However, most current church buildings and institutions that I see around me (granted, I haven't seen all of them, maybe yours is just dandy) don't do a lot in the way of fitting the Biblical notion of ekklesia. So The unChurch aims to do something more.

OK, just WHAT exactly has your "unChurch" done to address this situation (assuming it's true, which is a bit of a stretch). All I've seen here are snarky remarks about the Church's alleged shortcomings, a badly mangled explanation of "Sola Scriptura" (which, according to this page, means dispensing with all church tradition and Systematic Theology, something none of the Reformers would have endorsed) and no calls for people to get involved in a local body and volunteer to address those alleged shortcomings.

You HAVE, however, attracted a clientelle that sees church attendance as entirely optional and having no effect on the spiritual life whatsoever.

THAT's what you guys are doing wrong.

Joe B said...

Loved ones, there is nothing I need to say that our delightful ninja visitors have not made crystal clear.

Keep in mind the fine arguments they presented, and go read some of the beautiful red-letter passages n the gospels. Surely they run parallel to some of the teachings of Jesus, right? Also pay attention to those who opposed Jesus. What arguments did they hold to?

Read for yourselves and decide. In what role have these men cast themselves? The role of the Man sent to seek and save, or the role of those whom Jesus thought worthy of a little old fashioned name-calling.

Meanwhile, enjoy your ignorance as you feast your soul on some of this good stuff from God:

Jn 13:34 - "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

Jn 15:12 - "This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.

Jn 15:17 - "This I command you, that you love one another.

Ro 13:8 - Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.

1Th 4:9 - Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;

1Pe 1:22 - Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart,

1Jn 3:11 - For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another;

1Jn 3:23 - This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.

1Jn 4:7 - Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

1Jn 4:11 - Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

1Jn 4:12 - No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.

2Jn 1:5 - Now I ask you, lady, not as though I were writing to you a new commandment, but the one which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another.