Friday, December 12, 2008

The Christ-centered Church, Part III of V

Let us review what has been said in Parts I and II: There are many so-called “Bible-based” churches which derive their form and function directly from Scripture. They begin with the Bible and from it springs forth the “church” - pieced together verse by verse. For these Christians, the Bible acts as the source and focal point of their ecclesiology (“doctrine of the church”). We might call this a “Biblio-centric” (Bible-centered) view of church.
Thus far, however, we have shown that the Church, when rightly understood, is NOT derived from the Bible in this way. Rather, the Church finds its origin in the person Jesus Christ. It was Jesus (not a group people, Bible in-hand) who established the Church on earth. And Jesus built His Church as a lasting institution. “…I will build my Church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18) Such a Church should never need rebuilt in our own time. There should be no need to “reverse engineer” a Church from the Bible. Christians who seek a “Bible-based” Church ought instead to seek the “Christ-centered” Church, the one Church that can trace itself back to the Lord.
Christians who build up these new “Bible-churches” generally do so after first scanning the religious landscape and finding themselves in sharp disagreement with existing denominations and sects. They see the divisions within Christianity and they determine (and rightly so) that there must be some source, some divinely established guide, which can solve these disagreements. There must be some final arbiter which can settle disputes and determine where the truth lies.
Disagreement between individual Christians can certainly cause pain and division. Christians are all too often guilty of great sin against one another due to doctrinal disputes or jealous strife – one faction pitted against another, each pointing to Scripture as their guide. There is no question that such division ought to be healed, but who should be the final judge? Who can point to the sin of another and rightly decide? Does the Bible alone settle disputes between Christians?
Jesus gave the answer to this question in anticipation of such strife: "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 18:15-18)
Jesus tells us that the Church has moral authority over the individual on earth. And God Himself recognizes this authority in the Church…God will bind what the Church binds and loose what the Church loosens. So it seems that the Biblio-centric model has ecclesiology exactly opposite: It is not up to the individual to look into the Bible and determine what the Church ought to believe, rather it is up to the Church to instruct the individual on the path truth. The individual Christian must submit to the authority of the Church or he finds himself cut off, like “a pagan or a tax collector.”

1 comment:

  1. Hey man, I have a blog dedicated to studying God's word. If you get a chance, check it out and if you like it leave a comment. But beware, my beliefs come from Scripture and Scripture alone, so they differ from Catholic beliefs.