Last weekend, during our seminar, I made the statement that we should study the church by beginning with Scripture, not by beginning with our current beliefs and practices. This is still an important distinction for me, just as it was three years ago when I started this blog. Here are two posts that I wrote during my first month of blogging that deal with this issue.
This is one definition of ecclesology: the branch of theology concerned with the nature and the constitution and the functions of a church.
How should someone begin studying the nature, constitution, and functions of a church? I have found two distinct paths toward developing a biblical ecclesiology.
The first path begins with the contemporary church along with its nature and practices. The theologian then uses Scripture to justify the various roles, functions, and practices of the contemporary church. This method allows various theologians to justify different and divergent practices.
The second path begins with Scripture. The theologian examines the nature and practices of the NT church as recorded in the Bible. These “descriptions” are then used as “prescriptions” for comparisons to the contemporary church.
In 1 Corinthians, Paul encourages the church in Corinth to compare their practices to the practices of other churches (1 Cor 7:17; 11:16; 14:33-34; 16:1). We should compare our practices to those of the NT churches as well. We should not begin with our practices, then justify them with Scripture. We must begin with Scripture when we are developing our ecclesiology.
Yesterday, in discussing ecclesiology, I made the following statement:
We should not begin with our practices, then justify them with Scripture. We must begin with Scripture when we are developing our ecclesiology.
Today, someone mentioned being “called into full-time ministry.” From the context, I know that he did not mean that God has called him to serve others (minister) full-time, just as God has called all believers to serve and not to be served. Instead, he meant that God had called him to find a vocational position in a local church (probably other than his own local church) in order to earn a living. This is a normal understanding of what it means to be a preacher / pastor / minister – at least among the people that I know.
Did this understanding come from Scripture? Will reading Scripture lead someone to understand that God specially calls some people to stop working a “secular” job in order to be part of a paid staff at a local church? Does Scripture describe the pastor as someone hired from outside the body?
If this idea does not come from Scripture, then from where does it come? And, more importantly, why is this the “normal” practice in our churches today?