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Some Things Said… (Feb 07) (3)

Activists object to schools’ moral codes.

Gay-activist group Soulforce is organizing protests of Christian colleges because of their codes that forbid sexual immorality.

This is the second year in a row for the so-called “Equality Ride,” and this year Soulforce plans to double its efforts. Two busloads of protesters, one for each half of the country, will target 32 Christian colleges and universities. –excerpted from an article by Wendy Cloyd from the Focus on the Family website CitizenLink page, 02-16-2007

Throwback Christians
‘House church’ faithful on the rise

SIMI VALLEY – The twenty-something’s trickle into the tiny apartment. They laugh loudly and share the previous week’s stories about their spiritual struggles. Two slide into the bedroom to hash out a disagreement while the host busily places snacks on the table. Then the group gathers in the living room to pray.

This scene is not unlike a typical Bible study. No altar, no stained-glass windows, no pastor in a purple robe – simply the message of Christ in a small-group format.

But this is not Bible study. For these eight refugees of traditional Christianity, this Tuesday night is like Sunday morning. This is their sanctuary. This is where they pray and sing and study and take Communion.

This is house church…

…Throwback Christians

House churchers view themselves as throwback Christians. They express a nostalgia for pre-Nicean Christianity, before the canons and creeds and clergy.

The most oft-cited depiction of first-century Christians comes from the New Testament book of Acts, Chapter 2:

“Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

Just how quickly house churches are multiplying is a source of debate. A Ventura-based Christian polling organization reported last summer that house-church attendance had grown about tenfold during the past decade, to 20 million, or 9 percent of Americans, up from about 1 percent in 1996.

“More believers are going back and looking at the early church, looking at the book of Acts and seeing these people who had such a vibrant faith,” said George Barna, founder of the Barna Group.

“There were no positions, there were no salary scales, there were no programs. It was just people meeting in living rooms…” —excerpted from an article by Brad Greenberg in the Los Angeles Daily News, 2.17.07

Editor’s note:

Too bad they cannot seem to find anything else in the New Testament worth emulating other than Acts 2: 46, 47. But then this type of heresy is based upon a confused popular notion which itself is based upon poor reading.

There is nothing at all in the mentioned verses that facilitates authorizing that to which these folks choose to adhere. A better place to go to base this practice upon would be Romans 16: 3 — 5.

Acts 2 nowhere states or implies that there was a multitude of churches meeting in houses or anywhere else in Jerusalem. This passage simply notes that the first Christians spent their free time meeting in the temple court and going from home to home in their daily labors, being hospitable, sharing, teaching, eating their food, learning and enjoying fellowship one with another. The new Christians in Jerusalem, during that time, had entered the church at the end of a Jewish holiday period, and they had been pilgrims in the city; so the city was overflowing with vistitors. The church formed out of this multitude, and they met where it was convenient to meet. Further, there is nothing inherent in the remarks to indicate that these things had anything at all to do with the commanded assemblies on the Lord’s Day. But then the folks mentioned in this article apparently do not even understand the concept of worship, let alone worship on the Lord’s Day. It is about what they want to do, not about what God has given us to do.

To cloud things more, only one church or assembly is ever mentioned in Jerusalem, and it apparently included every Christian present in the city whenever it was mentioned. That itself implies that when they met as the assembly-of-purpose that they met as a constituted group. The scriptures do not anywhere mention or imply that these Christians assembled on any Lord’s Day in satellite groups of any kind.

Nowhere is it stated or implied that the church there (or anywhere else) was comprised of local, reduced, or any other satellite or minor elements. It does not mention or imply that the church in assembly met on any other day than on the Lord’s Day. And the notion that a church is made up of, or can be made up of several “house” churches also does not exist in the New Testament. If it is as the notion in the article suggests, and not as I suggest here, please let me know some scripture and verse where it is established as the truth.

While some assemblies clearly did have their start in homes, as noted above, there is no indication that they remained that way, or that there was one in every neighborhood or on every block. Churches in the New Testament were established by need and remained established through scriptural organization as listed in the apostles’ doctrine. They clearly met publicly until they were forced by circumstances to do otherwise. And once the conditions that forced their secrecy ended then the hidden assemblies also ended. In this country there currently is no need to hide. Further, there is no indication at all that there was more than one assembly in any city or town, until you get to the passage in the letter written to the Roman church, as also was noted here. And there is no indication as to how long the church that met in Aquila’s house continued in that venue. Everything else is pure speculation with no basis in the scriptures.

All the congregations mentioned in the New Testament were known or came to be known and identified as entities as they were established, and they did not appear or disappear by whim or behind a fog or vapor. There is absolutely no evidence that they moved from home to home, and they were not based solely upon someone’s notion to start “a church” within their own house. They did not appear or disappear within a neighborhood or locale in any hodgepodge sort or fashion. The Bible does not teach or example such things.

I have participated in the start of congregations out of necessity, as there was no assembly within distance that was making any attempt to follow the patterns in the word of God, so we used our homes as the temporary meeting places. When established we published our location, and when we were able and the need arose to provide more suitable accommodations, we opted for more utilitarian locations. That church now has a permanent place known by Christians in the area. We did not meet on Tuesday or on any other day in assembly or at any other time as a “church” — the called out assembly — that is other than on the Lord’s Day. We did manage to host some Bible studies during the week, but those meetings were not the “assembly-of-purpose” which the New Testament teaches about and in which we are commanded as Christians to be participants. Church sanctioned meeting times outside of the Lord’s Day activities for worship or for collective studies are neither commanded, exampled nor implied as a duty of the church in the New Testament, although teaching and study certainly is; and we set and participate in those things as we should choose within each local congregation. The point is — there is a difference between the worship of an assembly and in its meeting for any other purpose, by part or as a whole.

Whether we pay attention or not, it should be noted that the early churches met publicly, and in public with few exception. They met on the first day of the week in specific adherence to the word of God. They were known as to where they met and when. Acts 20: 6 and 7 is clear evidence of that. That is how they could be located without GPS, maps and directories. The locations became known and identifiable and there were no competing elements in any particular place. I have lived in towns with a population of less than 6,000 where there were six or more competing assemblies, some meeting in homes, most of which had nothing at all to do with the others, for one reason or the other. Some of the reasons were scriptural, but most were anything but.

We should encourage assemblies to start and to be started wherever and whenever they are needed, but we must first encourage adherence to the word of God in all things. There are a hundred thousand small towns and cities in the US that do not have a sound church or a teacher of the truth, so there is no shortage of need. But, if there is a church nearby that is teaching the truth, it should be supported before another is positioned in the next suburb or down the street. Aside from these things we can meet whenever and wherever we should like. RAV

So Help Us Darwin

An intimidatingly learned colleague has written to a few friends to deplore the latest bulletin on Senator John McCain, who is of course running for president. The news is that McCain has agreed to speak at a luncheon hosted by the Discovery Institute in Seattle. What offends my friend is that the think tank in question supports the concept of Intelligent Design. And the question raised–believe it or not–is whether such a latitudinarian thinker should be thought qualified to be president of the United States.

It seems an ancient controversy, and of course it is. Fifteen minutes after Charles Darwin explained his theory of evolution, his disciples–apostles–ruled out any heresy on the subject of the naturalist explanation for human life. Young people are educated to think of the question in the grammar of the Scopes Trial, Clarence Darrow vs. William Jennings Bryan. That trial made for great naturalist theater. Mr. Bryan was not born either to become president or to explain how God could tolerate chicken pox, so Clarence Darrow wiped him into dust.

But the contention continued, and has been explored from time to time under heavy lights. My own forensic involvement took place nine years ago as host of Firing Line. The two-hour, nationally televised debate on the topic “Resolved: that the evolutionists should acknowledge creation” featured seven professors. Four of them took the establishmentarian scientific position. It is, essentially, that not only is naturalism established as verified science, but any interposition into the picture–of inquisitiveness, let alone conviction that there might have been design in the evolution of our world–is excluded.

But that was a tough night for those who hoped that the lunacy of creationist thought would prove self-evident. The evolutionists had to contend with, for instance, Phillip E. Johnson, professor emeritus of law at the University of California at Berkeley, who wrote the book Darwin on Trial, and then Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds.

In outlining epochal events in this quarrel, Johnson quoted the official directive on teaching evolution as it appeared in the 1995 position statement of the National Association of Biology Teachers. “The diversity of life on earth is the outcome of evolution: an unsupervised, impersonal, unpredictable, and natural process.”

Please note, said Professor Johnson, that two years later the board of that association dropped the words “unsupervised” and “impersonal.” The meaning of it being that hard scientific research has taken from the evolutionary position not its authenticity–no one can argue with much of its description of what happened in the development of man–but its title to exclusivity. To prove absolutely that an apple, dropped from above Johnny’s head, will fall down on it is not the equivalent of proving that no extrinsic force had a hand in setting up that gravitational exercise.

Johnson’s objections have to do with separating real science from the materialist philosophy that provides “the only support for Darwinist theory.”

The questions are profound, and the arguments subtle. It is not reasonably expected of Senator McCain, or any other contender for the presidency, that in his public appearances he will explicate all the conundrums.

But the intelligent liberal community should not impose on anyone a requirement of believing that there is only the single, materialist word on the subject, and that only contempt is merited by those who consent to appear at think tanks composed of men and women prepared to explore ultimate questions, which certainly include the question, Did God have a hand in creating all of this? Including the great messes we live with?

Representing the affirmative that night on television, one debater closed with this: “I’m taken with the reply of an elderly scientific scholar to an exuberant young skeptic. ‘I find it easier to believe in God than to believe that Hamlet was deduced from the molecular structure of a mutton chop.’” –an article by William F. Buckley Jr. as found on the National Review website, 2.16.07

Out with the cross, in with the strippers.

The formerly Christian college that sparked a national furor by removing a cross from its chapel in the interest of diversity this week packed out its auditorium with an explicit porn show. The historic College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, whose chancellor is former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, was the scene of the Sex Workers Art Show Monday night — featuring topless dancers, demonstrations of sex toys, Q & A’s with male and female prostitutes — all in the name of empowering “sex workers.”

Some 400 people filled the university center’s auditorium and another 300 had to be turned away, according to a report in the Virginia Gazette. —a news item found at News from the Web at OneNewsNow.com 2.16.07