The church the world loves best . . .

The church

Message: “Ecclesia: The People of God’s Church” (1 Corinthians 12:1-14, 24-31; 1 Tim. 3:14-16)

You Can’t Love Missions without Loving the Local Church

Genetic Fallacy and Tu Quoque

By Thomas McCuddy, 

“The church is full of hypocrites!”  “The only reason you are a Christian is because you were raised as one!”

Sound familiar?  These are two prominent accusations against Christianity and Christians.  I’ve heard them many times, read them many places, and have even received them personally.  Both are similar in nature, and both are fallacies of thought.  Let’s examine them individually.

Tu Quoque

The first is officially named tu quoque, which is Latin for “you also.”  We could also call this the “hypocrite” fallacy.  Basically, the situation looks like this. Two people are arguing over the existence of God.  Person 1 (Bill) accuses person 2 (Robert) of making a self-refuting statement.  Robert fires back at Bill and points out other times when Bill has made self-refuting statements himself.  So, Robert’s argument can be summarized as “you too make self-refuting statements.”  Robert might also call Bill a hypocrite (ad hominem) for pointing out Robert’s self-refuting statements. Robert is claiming that Bill is not in a position to criticize Robert’s own arguments, and thus says tu quoque, or “you do it too!”  in reply to Bill’s accusations.

Read more:

When the Church Was a Family, part 5

Many of us receive great personal satisfaction from our Sunday sermons, and so we should, for it is a tremendous honor to speak on behalf of the King of the universe. But some of us overly depend on our public teaching ministries for a weekly shot of self-esteem, and our personal identities have become far too wrapped up in our role as the community’s “Sunday sage.”

Robust Sunday attendance and generous church offerings only compound the problem. For as a church grows, the preaching pastor will almost inevitably be affirmed in an institutional, managerial approach to ministry by a well-meaning group of elders or deacons whose ecclesiology and understanding of pastoral effectiveness are influenced more by the Wall Street Journal than by the letters of Paul.

We must preach community, and we must structure and present our church programs in such a way as to make those relational environments a first priority for the lives of our people.

The responsibilities of senior church leaders go beyond encouraging church family relationships through appropriate teaching and programming. Pastors need community too—perhaps more than anyone. We pastors are not immune to the reality that spiritual formation occurs in the context of community. We must pursue relationships with a handful of brothers in the congregation, first and foremost, for our own spiritual health. We pastors need caring brothers and sisters. And they need us.

But there is another reason that we as pastors need a group of close surrogate siblings in the church family. We ourselves need to be in community in order to model community life for our people if we truly want them to embrace church family values for their own lives.

One who has no true brothers in the congregation will be unable authentically and credibly to challenge others to live together as surrogate siblings.

We cannot read our Bibles without concluding that the number one evidence of Christian maturity is our ability to engage in intimate, authentic relationships with our fellow human beings.

There is no other consistently reliable benchmark of our growth in Christ—certainly not Bible knowledge or effectiveness in ministry—by which to evaluate our Christian walk.

It’s all about family. The social unit to which strong-group Mediterranean persons expressed primary relational allegiance was the family. People in the world of Jesus and Paul readily embraced the idea that the good of the family was to take priority over one’s personal desires and aspirations.

When the Church Was a Family: Recapturing Jesus’ Vision for Authentic Christian Community – Hellerman

I repeat: There is so much more to learn from the book, these many excerpts should leave you with a real interest in buying Hellerman’s book and study it in depth. Very challenging.

When the Church Was a Family, part 4

Consider our fixation upon Jesus as personal Savior, so central to the evangelistic strategies of the previous generation. Such privatization of the Christian faith turns out to be little more than a regrettable accommodation to a pagan culture’s unbiblical obsession with individual determinism and personal subjective experience.

Four New Testament family values will serve as our roadmap:

1. We share our stuff with one another.
2. We share our hearts with one another.
3. We stay, embrace the pain, and grow up with one another
4. Family is about more than me, the wife, and the kids.

The common practice of running from church to church is rather silly when viewed in light of New Testament relational priorities. I am not suggesting that there is never a legitimate reason for leaving a local church, but I find it rather striking that neither in the midst of the Galatian heresy nor in the context of divisiveness and immorality at Corinth did Paul instruct his readers to leave the community in order to find a healthier group of brothers and sisters. Instead, he challenged them to stick it out and partner with God to make things better.

The concept of the church as a surrogate family of brothers and sisters in Christ has great potential to ameliorate the emotional angst associated with individual decision making and to assist God’s people in making wise and lasting decisions when we arrive at the key crossroads of life.

The concept of the church as a surrogate family of brothers and sisters in Christ has great potential to ameliorate the emotional angst associated with individual decision making and to assist God’s people in making wise and lasting decisions when we arrive at the key crossroads of life.

Given our cultural environment, it is only to be expected that much of our contemporary worship music continues to be produced by people who are quite unaware of the influence of Western individualism on their work. The result is a multitude of wonderful songs that reflect on our personal relationship with Jesus but tend to ignore the connection between God and His people as a group.

As the pastor-teachers of God’s family, we must lovingly immerse our people in the eternal truth that the Christian faith is preeminently a community endeavor to partner with God to further His kingdom program. And we must teach our people how to live as brothers and sisters in community together.

We are all quite aware that Sunday attenders generally do not become spiritually formed disciples of Jesus.

If we want to return to the world of New Testament Christianity, the relational environments in our churches must take precedence over our larger weekly gatherings.

When the Church Was a Family: Recapturing Jesus’ Vision for Authentic Christian Community – Hellerman

When the Church Was a Family, part 3

Unfortunately, most Western readers treat “brothers” in Paul’s letters much as we would a punctuation mark, or perhaps as some sort of aside with little theological import. Such an approach is clearly untenable in view of what we have learned about the importance of sibling relations in the New Testament world.

The apostle Paul clearly adopted Jesus’ model for Christian community, as indicated by the extensive use of family language in his letters. But Paul’s vision was not an easy sell, even to people in a collectivist culture.

The first followers of Jesus conceived of loyalty to God primarily in terms of loyalty to God’s group. To be committed to God was to be committed to His family. The inevitable result was that Christians were torn between loyalty to God’s family and loyalty to the natural family. The conflict surfaces often in early Christian literature, where we find numerous warnings about the spiritual dangers of excessive attachment to one’s natural family.

God’s plan for His people ultimately serves a much greater and more encompassing aim—that through His people our great God and Savior would fully and finally receive the glory that is His due. As Peter expressed it: “you are . . . ‘a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises’ of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet 2:9).

To be sold out to God (and thereby actualize our justification) is to be sold out to God’s group (and thereby actualize our familification). We need to cultivate both the vertical and the horizontal dimensions of what happened to us at salvation, as we seek to mature in the Lord.

We have removed from the gospel what the Bible views as central to the sanctification process, namely, commitment to God’s group.

B. Witherington eloquently put it this way: “The community, not the closet, is the place where salvation is worked out.”

Among the early Christians, salvation involved both a new relationship with God and a new relationship with God’s group. If we wish to be faithful to biblical soteriology, we must communicate these truths when we share the gospel with unbelievers.

When the Church Was a Family: Recapturing Jesus’ Vision for Authentic Christian Community – Hellerman