Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Such Encouragement

I love it when people are thinking and talking about critical issues rather than leaning lazily on tradition or screeching at one another. While I often seem (overly) negative and alarmist, I also see regular reminders that many of my brethren are deeply delving into the Scriptures and seeking to be the change the church so desperately needs.

First, Dave Black takes aim at a most pernicious error, the idea that in a local fellowship of the church one man is the sole source of authority when it comes to interpreting the Bible. Dave writes in Pastors Are Not The Ultimate Authority On Bible Teaching (And Who Is) :
Put all this together and you arrive at the conclusion that God has provided multiple teachers in His church: gifted leaders, our fellow Christians, and ultimately the Holy Spirit Himself. I “preach” regularly in churches. But to be honest with you, I would never want anybody to hang on my every word. I would rather point them to the only infallible source of knowledge about God and His will for us, and that is the Bible. It is this Bible that we are to teach one another. We need each other, not least when it comes to understanding and obeying God’s word. I urge you to find a church home that encourages this kind of mutual edification. If there is a strong teaching ministry where you attend (and hopefully there is), make sure the teaching is sound and feedback encouraged. (A monologue need not exclude audience participation.) Make a point too of participating in small group Bible studies. Remember that believers are all on a par with each other: teachers and taught alike are fellow-sinners and fellow-learners. If possible, make room for more formal courses in the Bible. If a local church is to make a significant impact in its community, it must become a learning center, a place where truth is valued and taught. 
I love that. It is infintely better than the common responses which often boil down to demeaning or diminishing the Bible, an "anything goes" attitude toward teaching or a lack of teaching altogether. I am an advocate for a "Community Hermeneutic" where the church is collectively responsible for interpretation (See my post Toward A Community Hermeneutic ). We don't need less Bible teaching in the church, we very obviously need more. What we don't need is more "one man show" gatherings where the sole authority for what the Bible teaches is invested in the opinion of one man, no matter how learned he might be.

The second post is from a new source that I really have been blessed to find, Dwight Gingrich. Dwight looks at a topic I frequently post on, who is permitted to share the Lord's Supper? Should we restrict it and if so, how? Dwight turns to the earliest Anabaptist confession, The Schleitheim Confession, for a look at what the Anabaptists taught back in the era of overt persecution in his post The Schleitheim Confession: Who May Share The Lord's Supper?. Dwight writes:
 Perhaps significantly, no mention is made of sharing a oneness merely with one specific congregation; the vision of these Anabaptists extended to all who belonged to Christ. In this context this meant, at minimum, that scattered, rapidly-growing, loosely-connected network of what we now call Anabaptist congregations, which at the time were not formally united into one denomination or church alliance.
I love that! I hope I am not misrepresenting Dwight but what I read is that the Supper is restricted to the church the church has never meant to be sub-divided into one specific congregation to the exclusion of all others. Certainly this does not mean that we never restrict anyone from the Supper, 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 makes that clear, as does the Anabaptist practice of the Ban but holiness and unity are not and cannot be made into adversaries. They are two facets of the same concern for the Body of Christ. I look forward to reading more from Dwight on this topic as he has teased in this blog post and others.

Give both of these a read and think them through. Maybe comment or write your own thoughts in some venue. Never stop seeking to return the church to Her roots.

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