Monday, March 29, 2010
Reforming The Schismatic Christian Movement
I rarely, if ever, post someone else's writings here, but the seven or eight articles that I'm working on aren't really near completion, so I wanted to post something in the meantime. The following piece is written by Buff Scott, Jr. who has authored tons of books and articles. I've been on his mailing list for a couple of years now and I absolutely love his perspective. As a well-experienced man who spent many years pastoring, I enjoy hearing his current thoughts on "church" as most know it. He will surely ruffle your religious feathers, should you have any. His bio can be read here should you be interested.
Reforming The Schismatic Christian Movement
Occasionally, I receive letters from my readers who asks about my struggles—and the struggles of others—to reform the sectarian mess we inherited from our forefathers. They want to know how to address the problems that have taken us down the road of apostasy. Below, I offer a few ideas to reform the institutional church and correct her schismatic plight. But understand that this cannot be done unless the Holy Spirit is in charge of our labors. The ideas submitted here are not exhaustive. Indeed, there are additional concepts that could be included.
Churches should surrender all party labels, names, and partisan practices. The denominating of separatist Christian groups must cease. We must recognize that wherever God has a child, we have a brother or a sister, as our dearly-beloved Carl Ketcherside used to say. We have no half-brothers or half-sisters in the Lord. All believers are blood children of the Lamb.
Draw no party lines. If Jesus did not erect the barrier that keeps our spiritual brothers out, dismantle it. If ever a solution is found to our divisive dilemma, the Christian community must look to Jesus—not to churches. Churches cannot save. Jesus can and does.
Purge ritualism and formalism from our meetings and get back to the simple, informal model of sharing with and edifying one another. Our open Bible classes resemble the open meetings of the early believers, for everyone is encouraged to participate. Participation makes for spiritual growth. Pew-warming makes for spiritual retreat.
Our “pulpit ministers” and “pastors”—clergy—must go! Godly and wise shepherds must replace our hired hands. Pulpiteers prevent the various parts of the body from functioning as God intended them to function. They need to be dismissed and encouraged to find a job or transform their pulpit ministries into full-time evangelism—seeking and saving the lost. In house meetings, the pulpit elitist is as useless as cough syrup in a kettle of pinto beans. Edifices, too, were unknown during the formative years of the redeemed society. The early believers had neither pulpiteers nor edifices to consume 85% of their contributions, as it is today. They met in homes, in the market places, in open air. Their contributions were applied only to the destitute and to evangelism.
Disregard the idea that worship must be conducted at certain places, scheduled for specific hours, and performed in selective ways. Worship for the dedicated believer is his whole life, as per Jesus in John 4:19-24. It is utterly ridiculous to speak of leaving our classrooms to go “into the sanctuary to worship.” Worship in the new age is never defined as moving from one location to another. If we are not worshipping in the first room, it is unlikely the situation will improve by moving to the second room. For the informed believer, worship cannot be turned on and off like a light switch.
“Supplemental” issues such as The Rapture, The Battle of Armageddon, The Thousand-Year Earthly Reign, Middle East Israel, and other doctrinal non-essentials must cease to be emphasized and the unsaved pointed to Jesus. The innumerable magazines and books relating to these issues are causing confusion among the uncommitted and frustrating those who are reaching for a higher level of spiritual curriculum. They hunger for meat but are fed bottle milk.
These changes, plus numerous others, are not likely to come about overnight, for they did not develop overnight. Somewhere along our journey to heaven, change will come. Praise be to God, pockets of change are already happening. House meetings are popping up all over!