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HolyGround >> When did the Church disappear?


9/20/10 12:36 AM
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Ridgeback
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ocianain - The Church never was corrupted never disappeared, to argue it was/did is to call Christ a liar, at best mistaken. In either case it argues He failed, ergo He was not God incarnate. He said the gates of hell would not triumph against His church. To argue hell didn't but Constadine did is absurd.

 While I agree in theory with your ecslessiology (there is simply no concept of an invisible church in Christianity until a few years ago in the US) I am not sure that verse is made in reference to the lasting quality of the church.  The gates of hades or death are depicted in icons of the resurrection, in which Jesus is pulling humanity up out of death.  So I take the verse to mean that death will not separate the Church, on earth and in heaven.  In other words, death will not have victory over those who are in Christ.

I think a better verse would be St. Paul's admonition that the Church is the "ground and pillar of the truth."  If this is so, then there can be only one Church, one Baptism, etc. etc.  Two sects that contradict each other can't, by definition, both be the ground of the truth.  Neither can the Spirit of Truth be guiding both of them.  
9/20/10 5:17 PM
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zealot66
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 I think one thing that is hard for christians to accept about 'the church' is that it is a social institution as well as 'the church'. Arguing for primacy is a natural occurance. There is no single institution of church state culture that I can find that has been monolithic for 2000 years. Maybe the bushmen of the kalahari but dont you think there would be rivalries among tribes ? However, the true miracle is that the Church remained. 

Paul says we see shadows. Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. One might take these things into consideration when determining the true church. 
9/20/10 9:05 PM
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ocianain
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Salvation history is all about the establishment of Christs Kingdom. This begins with the establishment, through the Jews of first a tribe, then a nation. Christ then established the New Israel, open to all, The Church, it is the Kingdom of Christ, guess what Church that is.
9/26/10 1:44 PM
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reverend john
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The church is visible and invisible, it always has been and always will be. The idea that Cathedrals and hierarchies are needed to define the church is untenable as it suggests there was no church until a few hundred years after Christ. The idea that the church has been completely apostate except for tiny little groups throughout history neglects the millions of beautiful souls that followed Jesus where they were at. The problem I see with both extremes of this question, is it once again degrades people. I am not a Catholic, I find much in the Catholic churches to be contrary to my understanding of following Jesus, but I know many catholics that are amazing men and women following Christ in ways I long to. I am in a protestant tradition, yet I find the arrogance, hypocrisy and hierarchy within all protestant movements to be just as damning as what they say they rebelled against.

In the end, I get incredibly frustrated with anyone who says they have it all figured out, and are the truest example of Christianity. Which would probably make me the biggest of hypocrites in most peoples minds. I cannot concern myself with that. But I can keep trying to grow myself, and be more accepting. Unity is something that God desires. It is pride that stands in the way, and I am a prideful man. However, we also see throughout biblical and church histories the prophetic voice calling to account the abuses and sins of those called to follow. So there is balance.

rev
9/26/10 3:36 PM
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Ridgeback
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 Claiming that there was no hierarchy in the primitive church is highly selective reading to say the least.  The Apostles immediately replaced  the bishopric of Judas (and that word has been removed from Protestant Bibles) with Mathias.   This speaks to an office that exists apart from the humans who fill it.  Then you have the offices of episkopoi, presbyters, and diaconates for which there are specific requirements to be ordained to.  The council in Jerusalem made a decision on the Judaizing controversy and this model of Bishops meeting to hash out divisive issues and bring clarity to doctrines was followed every since, including in the time of Constantine (he didn't invent the role of Bishops or the practice of meeting in councils to bring clarity to doctrinal issues).    

Now a person could certainly make the argument that the power vested to certain clergy members has gone well beyond anything intended by the Apostolic church, but this is a conversation that takes place within every tradition, with prophetic voices pointing out the issue of power abuse (just like prophetic voices in the time of Constantine pointed out the compromise that a marriage to the state would bring without actually leaving the visible communion of the Church).

The untenable thing to me is that claim that all disparate Christian traditions can all be guided into Truth by the same Spirit yet come up with completely disparate conclusions ranging from the Real Presence to crackers and grape juice as a symbol.  In Soteriology, the range is from an angry God that chooses a few people to be saved and the rest to be damned, all the way to a complete redemption of the cosmos in which each person freely chooses to commune in or not.  You have services that are liturgical in the manner that the Jews of Jesus' day worshiped, all the way to rock concerts in auditoriums based on secular forms of entertainment.  These things can't all be right, and a person who picks and chooses among them as if he transcends them is almost certainly the most delusional about the faith.  At least those people who are in them are humble enough to admit that God didn't put them in charge of defining the faith, but rather called them to practice what was already laid down a long time ago.

These are among the many reasons I have come to believe there is one visible Church on earth to which many outside her visible walls might be invisibly joined ( we simply don't speculate about the salvation of those outside the Church nor those in it).  And her signs are agape love in every generation, a consistency of belief and worship in every generation, and an unceasing flow of martyrs' blood in every generation.  Administrative issues are simply chaff in comparison.  A bishop who grabs at power and wealth is just damning his own soul in the process.  When the pope tried to rule as the gentiles rule we left him and almost all the worst abuses occurred after the Roman bishops left the communion of the Church.  And on the subject of power, my bishop lives in a homeless shelter while many non-denominational pastors live in Macmansions.  Every single Christian tradition is prone to this kind of thing no matter how hierarchical or anarchical.  

And if nothing else,  I will go with the visible communion that has been most persecuted in the name of Christ.  This is probably the most trustworthy sign of all.
9/26/10 5:45 PM
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Lahi
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How clear of a historical picture do you think we can get of the Church before say 250 AD? At a certain point to we have to trust the account of a Tradition to fill in some major gaps?

Not trying to stir things up, just a serious question I've had for a while.
9/26/10 5:51 PM
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Lahi
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I can't say I've really dug into it either. I've heard people from certain traditions claim that, based on Scripture and other primary sources, we can know fairly certainly how things worked in the early Church. But then you hear comments from people like NT Wright and Hans Kung who seem to think things are not so clear on certain issues. I'd have to check but I don't think I'm remembering wrong.
9/26/10 9:20 PM
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reverend john
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Ridgeback -  Claiming that there was no hierarchy in the primitive church is highly selective reading to say the least.  The Apostles immediately replaced  the bishopric of Judas (and that word has been removed from Protestant Bibles) with Mathias.   This speaks to an office that exists apart from the humans who fill it.  Then you have the offices of episkopoi, presbyters, and diaconates for which there are specific requirements to be ordained to.  The council in Jerusalem made a decision on the Judaizing controversy and this model of Bishops meeting to hash out divisive issues and bring clarity to doctrines was followed every since, including in the time of Constantine (he didn't invent the role of Bishops or the practice of meeting in councils to bring clarity to doctrinal issues).    

Now a person could certainly make the argument that the power vested to certain clergy members has gone well beyond anything intended by the Apostolic church, but this is a conversation that takes place within every tradition, with prophetic voices pointing out the issue of power abuse (just like prophetic voices in the time of Constantine pointed out the compromise that a marriage to the state would bring without actually leaving the visible communion of the Church).

The untenable thing to me is that claim that all disparate Christian traditions can all be guided into Truth by the same Spirit yet come up with completely disparate conclusions ranging from the Real Presence to crackers and grape juice as a symbol.  In Soteriology, the range is from an angry God that chooses a few people to be saved and the rest to be damned, all the way to a complete redemption of the cosmos in which each person freely chooses to commune in or not.  You have services that are liturgical in the manner that the Jews of Jesus' day worshiped, all the way to rock concerts in auditoriums based on secular forms of entertainment.  These things can't all be right, and a person who picks and chooses among them as if he transcends them is almost certainly the most delusional about the faith.  At least those people who are in them are humble enough to admit that God didn't put them in charge of defining the faith, but rather called them to practice what was already laid down a long time ago.

These are among the many reasons I have come to believe there is one visible Church on earth to which many outside her visible walls might be invisibly joined ( we simply don't speculate about the salvation of those outside the Church nor those in it).  And her signs are agape love in every generation, a consistency of belief and worship in every generation, and an unceasing flow of martyrs' blood in every generation.  Administrative issues are simply chaff in comparison.  A bishop who grabs at power and wealth is just damning his own soul in the process.  When the pope tried to rule as the gentiles rule we left him and almost all the worst abuses occurred after the Roman bishops left the communion of the Church.  And on the subject of power, my bishop lives in a homeless shelter while many non-denominational pastors live in Macmansions.  Every single Christian tradition is prone to this kind of thing no matter how hierarchical or anarchical.  

And if nothing else,  I will go with the visible communion that has been most persecuted in the name of Christ.  This is probably the most trustworthy sign of all.

I thought I made a very conciliatory post. It seems that you always just want to argue, I have decided not to do that with you anymore. I am sorry for any insults or hurts I may have caused you. I disagree with your opinions about church, but I agree with your Christ, and His Spirit, and I will endeavor to follow and be lead by.

I pray you will do the same

rev
9/26/10 11:18 PM
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reverend john - 
Ridgeback -  Claiming that there was no hierarchy in the primitive church is highly selective reading to say the least.  The Apostles immediately replaced  the bishopric of Judas (and that word has been removed from Protestant Bibles) with Mathias.   This speaks to an office that exists apart from the humans who fill it.  Then you have the offices of episkopoi, presbyters, and diaconates for which there are specific requirements to be ordained to.  The council in Jerusalem made a decision on the Judaizing controversy and this model of Bishops meeting to hash out divisive issues and bring clarity to doctrines was followed every since, including in the time of Constantine (he didn't invent the role of Bishops or the practice of meeting in councils to bring clarity to doctrinal issues).    

Now a person could certainly make the argument that the power vested to certain clergy members has gone well beyond anything intended by the Apostolic church, but this is a conversation that takes place within every tradition, with prophetic voices pointing out the issue of power abuse (just like prophetic voices in the time of Constantine pointed out the compromise that a marriage to the state would bring without actually leaving the visible communion of the Church).

The untenable thing to me is that claim that all disparate Christian traditions can all be guided into Truth by the same Spirit yet come up with completely disparate conclusions ranging from the Real Presence to crackers and grape juice as a symbol.  In Soteriology, the range is from an angry God that chooses a few people to be saved and the rest to be damned, all the way to a complete redemption of the cosmos in which each person freely chooses to commune in or not.  You have services that are liturgical in the manner that the Jews of Jesus' day worshiped, all the way to rock concerts in auditoriums based on secular forms of entertainment.  These things can't all be right, and a person who picks and chooses among them as if he transcends them is almost certainly the most delusional about the faith.  At least those people who are in them are humble enough to admit that God didn't put them in charge of defining the faith, but rather called them to practice what was already laid down a long time ago.

These are among the many reasons I have come to believe there is one visible Church on earth to which many outside her visible walls might be invisibly joined ( we simply don't speculate about the salvation of those outside the Church nor those in it).  And her signs are agape love in every generation, a consistency of belief and worship in every generation, and an unceasing flow of martyrs' blood in every generation.  Administrative issues are simply chaff in comparison.  A bishop who grabs at power and wealth is just damning his own soul in the process.  When the pope tried to rule as the gentiles rule we left him and almost all the worst abuses occurred after the Roman bishops left the communion of the Church.  And on the subject of power, my bishop lives in a homeless shelter while many non-denominational pastors live in Macmansions.  Every single Christian tradition is prone to this kind of thing no matter how hierarchical or anarchical.  

And if nothing else,  I will go with the visible communion that has been most persecuted in the name of Christ.  This is probably the most trustworthy sign of all.

I thought I made a very conciliatory post. It seems that you always just want to argue, I have decided not to do that with you anymore. I am sorry for any insults or hurts I may have caused you. I disagree with your opinions about church, but I agree with your Christ, and His Spirit, and I will endeavor to follow and be lead by.

I pray you will do the same

rev

 Yes your view of things is much more fair than the fundies I agree.  You acknowledge that sola scriptura is untenable even as you reject the hierarchical nature of the older traditions in Christianity.  That is fair enough.  I think you are consistent.

 I am sure you will note that at no time have I implied that you are not saved or following Christ.  I have a great deal of respect for what you do John and you have had a profound influence on my way of thinking.  Within Orthodoxy I very much side with those who embrace conceptions of social justice and the rejection of power.  

And yes I agree that there is no point in arguing from this point on so I will stop.  
9/26/10 11:22 PM
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Lahi
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To give a few examples:

Ridge mentioned the Eucharist. How much can we really know about the way it was practiced just from Scripture and early church history? Or whether Jesus intended it mystically or just symbolicaly?

The Saints, the state of the dead, the nature of Mary...it just seems like a lot of things aren't as clear in the Bible as most of us like to make out.
9/26/10 11:57 PM
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Ridgeback
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Lahi - To give a few examples:

Ridge mentioned the Eucharist. How much can we really know about the way it was practiced just from Scripture and early church history? Or whether Jesus intended it mystically or just symbolicaly?

The Saints, the state of the dead, the nature of Mary...it just seems like a lot of things aren't as clear in the Bible as most of us like to make out.

 Which makes sense within the narrative of scripture being the written part of a larger tradition.  In that view scripture is not in any way meant to be comprehensive, but is certainly reflective of something already in place.  I liken it to a BJJ academy that releases an instructional book.  Try to isolate the book from the training and personal teaching that goes on in the academy and you will come to some strange conclusions.  View it as part of a whole and it makes sense.  The people who train at Saulo's academy and read Jiu Jitsu University will have a very different view from some garage trainers who are trying to use it as their sole guide.
9/27/10 12:01 AM
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reverend john
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that is a great analogy, or metaphor I never know the difference. The difference is I don't think God wants us to have a unified knowledge but rather a unified love. And we need to make these decisions with deference to the church throughout the ages, and our own community.

Ridge, if you want to see why I do not look at the biblical hierarchy in the same way you or the catholic church does please read the internet book (free, short, just don't read the question and answers at the end unless you are interested) straight talk to pastors by Frank Viola

rev
9/27/10 12:10 AM
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Ridgeback
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reverend john - that is a great analogy, or metaphor I never know the difference. The difference is I don't think God wants us to have a unified knowledge but rather a unified love. And we need to make these decisions with deference to the church throughout the ages, and our own community.

Ridge, if you want to see why I do not look at the biblical hierarchy in the same way you or the catholic church does please read the internet book (free, short, just don't read the question and answers at the end unless you are interested) straight talk to pastors by Frank Viola

rev

 I agree, but carrying on with the analogy, are you more likely to develop the "spirit of BJJ" by training with a great teacher or reading a book?  I think Christianity was meant to be passed down in the way that all these things that take time and guidance and lived examples do.  And in a primarily oral culture there isn't much of a choice.  The Apostles absorbed the teachings of Jesus by living with him day in and day out for a time.  This is likewise how the Apostles passed down the "Way" to those who came after them and so forth and so on.  This is why it would be inconceivable to in Orthodoxy to simply distribute Bibles rather than sending missionaries that demonstrate the Way with their lives. 

The Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Church have very different views of hierarchy.  I reject the Roman Catholic conception of clergy as much as I do the Protestant versions (which are often just the other side of the same coin).  I will put that book in my list and try to get a look at it.  
9/27/10 12:15 AM
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Juijitsuboxer
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Lahi - To give a few examples:

Ridge mentioned the Eucharist. How much can we really know about the way it was practiced just from Scripture and early church history? Or whether Jesus intended it mystically or just symbolicaly?

The Saints, the state of the dead, the nature of Mary...it just seems like a lot of things aren't as clear in the Bible as most of us like to make out.



There are many ways to argue these points that have or have not been effective in changing peoples minds. We have ancient testimony recorded in Eusebius's church history, but many say those documents could have been changed, misrepresented, or that the original authors could be wrong on the subjects to which they speak no matter how early their witness is.

It is a conundrum.
9/27/10 12:22 AM
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reverend john
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no I agree fully with the analogy, I just also believe that through the years you can get people even from Saulos that will try and codify things, try and keep people from doing what they learned from him personally ect. For instance, Javier is one of the greatest jiu jitsu guys I have ever seen. Fast, reflexive, aggressive amazing. His teachers encouraged him to grow, to adapt, to mix his wrestling with his jiu jitsu ect. But then he winds up at Gracie Torrance with the Gracie boys Rener and Ryron, who are both amazing, from a great lineage ect. The "pure" jiu jitsu. Well Javier starts to wrestle like they do, the get him to put away all of his transition game, to stick to the basics, to control and slow things down. Only they are 200 lbs masters, Javie is one of the most explosive, fast, and quick thinking guys ever. So they took away all of his natural abilities for "their way" Now this is only two generations away from the guy who adapted everything to work for his own frame.

What Jesus was trying to do in my opinion, was to give the power of the priests (sanhedrin) to the church. There would of course be leadership, and giftings, but these were not positions of power, but of service and practical necessity.

But when the church embraces state power, endorses violence, instills its doctrine by the power of the sword, and grows fat on the backs of the poor and middle class, it has violated its mandate. So the "bishops" that followed that path are not the church but men seeking power. So does the church that follows them stop being the church?

See, much of what the world sees as the church is not the church. And much of what it doesn't see is the church. Many that say Lord Lord will be turned away, and many that no one expects to be in the kingdom have already entered. The church is both visible and invisible

rev
9/27/10 12:33 AM
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Juijitsuboxer
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http://www.amazon.com/Eusebius-Church-History/dp/082543307X/ref=sr_1_1?s=gateway&ie=UTF8&qid=1285560973&sr=8-1

Check out this book if you want a clear and concise translation of Eusebius Church history to decide for yourself if his depiction of history from the Apostles to Nicea is satisfying.

There have been many many Christians through the ages that do not all within the bounds of "proper" Christianity due to them disagreeing with the date that easter should be celebrated or re-baptism of people who deny Christ who want to come back into the church, people who celebrate feasts or fasts on the "wrong" day or at the wrong time, etc.

Orthopraxy was very important to the early church and there were many people shunned due to small differences in belief.

I don't know that those were proper decisions, but who am I to say? I will continue to practice Christianity as a pentecostal because it is the way God has touched my life, changed my life, and has shaped me into one who tries to imitate him. To turn my back on it like it is wrong would be to turn my back on all my Christian experiences and how Christ has grown me. I simply cannot do that.
9/27/10 1:10 AM
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Juijitsuboxer - http://www.amazon.com/Eusebius-Church-History/dp/082543307X/ref=sr_1_1?s=gateway&ie=UTF8&qid=1285560973&sr=8-1

Check out this book if you want a clear and concise translation of Eusebius Church history to decide for yourself if his depiction of history from the Apostles to Nicea is satisfying.

There have been many many Christians through the ages that do not all within the bounds of "proper" Christianity due to them disagreeing with the date that easter should be celebrated or re-baptism of people who deny Christ who want to come back into the church, people who celebrate feasts or fasts on the "wrong" day or at the wrong time, etc.

Orthopraxy was very important to the early church and there were many people shunned due to small differences in belief.

I don't know that those were proper decisions, but who am I to say? I will continue to practice Christianity as a pentecostal because it is the way God has touched my life, changed my life, and has shaped me into one who tries to imitate him. To turn my back on it like it is wrong would be to turn my back on all my Christian experiences and how Christ has grown me. I simply cannot do that.

 A lot of that came down to how people responded to things after they were clarified.  It would be like Judaizers insisting that Gentiles should be circumsized after St. James and the rest of the "leaders" in Jerusalem clarified the issue. They weren't forced to change, but if they didn't they were putting themselves outside the communion of the Apostles.  

For the record, I never felt like becoming Orthodox was turning my back on a fundamentalist upbringing.  I retain all the best from those traditions, including a love for scripture and an insistence that faith must be personally accepted, not inherited.  
9/27/10 1:15 AM
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 What Jesus was trying to do in my opinion, was to give the power of the priests (sanhedrin) to the church. There would of course be leadership, and giftings, but these were not positions of power, but of service and practical necessity. 

I agree with this and believe it is the ideal of Orthodoxy.  Our bishop pointed out that the term "overseer" means the head slave.  Basically he is the guy who helps organize the slaves for the master, but is still a slave and has no real power apart from the authority of the master.  And of course countless Bishops have fallen far short of this ideal, and many were compromised by getting into bed with the state, and, as an Orthodox monk aptly pointed out, "probably the walls of hell are lined with priests and bishops decked out in their vestments."  

I think where we mainly disagree is that I think we should remain in visible communion even if the Church has a lot of tares among the wheat.  My example would be John Chrysostom, who definitely preached against these kinds of compromises and was eventually exiled (and effectively killed) for standing up against state power.  But I think we are in total agreement that any leadership in Christianity must take on the aspect of the servant.

And everybody knows that Helio's side of the family are the schismatics who broke from Carlos' side. ;-) 

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