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The Whole Church

Posted by on Jun 4, 2010 in blog links, definition | 5 comments

The Whole Church

This is from Dave Black’s blog (yesterday, June 3, 2010 at 8:05 p.m.):

La totalité de l’église c’est pour saint Paul le fait primaire, sa localisation en est seulement un corallarie. [My translation: “The whole church is for St. Paul the primary thing, its locality is only a corollary.”]

This is still exactly how I feel and think about the church today! For Paul, every local church is nothing more than the representation of the one universal church. This is why I do not think of “my” church as Bethel Hill Baptist Church only. “My” church is also your church, and the church in Ethiopia, and the church in China. Thus if one church suffers, I must suffer with it; I have no choice because Christ does not have “bodies,” He has one Body. In the words of Reicke (from the same essay):

En effet, Paul est enclin à regarder chaque église locale, non seulement comme une copie de léglise universelle, mais comme étant l’église univiverselle elle-même, réalisée dans ce monde. [My translation: “Indeed, Paul was inclined to lood at each local church not only as a copy of the universal church, but as the universal church itself realized in this world.”]

I’ve often wondered, is the “universal” and “local” distinction in the church a man-made distinction?


5 Comments

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  1. 6-4-2010

    Alan,

    I totally agree with the quote from Dr. Black. However, I think that clear communication practically makes the terms “universal” and “local” a necessary evil, when talking about church. Otherwise, we may find ourselves seeming to say something like the Roman Catholics, i.e. the local parishes are like sub-franchises of the big corporation: the Church. I prefer to say that local congregations (or churches) are expressions of the One True Church (or the Universal Church). However, there is a sense in which they exist as entities themselves. While not, in one sense, “independent,” I think we can say they are, in another sense, “autonomous.”

    Also, I think the NT does make a distinction between “the Church,” and “a church” or “churches.” They are. to be certain, organically interwoven together. But they are not exact synonyms.

  2. 6-4-2010

    Alan,

    There is so much in both Dave Black’s words, as well as David’s.

    As I was repelled by the turmoil and political lobbying of denominational church life, whose thinking David accurately describes as, “the local parishes are like sub-franchises of the big corporation”, I found myself thinking in line with Reicke, as Dave quotes him,”Paul was inclined to look at each local church not only as a copy of the universal church, but as the universal church itself realized in this world.”, which I believe is in line with Scripture.

    I think David’s term “local congregations” is a better term than “local church”. I\Also, if “independent” and “autonomous” apply, in the sense of not being under the control of a central, or a regional governing body, then I agree also.

    The problem is that many congregations, in my own experience, and that of several brethren, is that they are “independent” and “autonomous” towards the Scriptures as well, even though declaring Sola Scriptura.

  3. 6-5-2010

    I believe these are man-made distinctions, Alan. That’s why it’s so difficult for people to conceive of living their lives as followers of Jesus outside of the institutional church. We’ve established a man-made “church” and then we insist that we must support it or we’re outside the will of God.

  4. 6-6-2010

    David Rogers said, “I think the NT does make a distinction between ‘the Church,’ and ‘a church’ or ‘churches.’ They are. to be certain, organically interwoven together. But they are not exact synonyms.

    There, in fact, 34 references to “churches” plural (I Cor 11:16), 48 references to a specific “church” singular (I Cor 11:18), and 20 that seem to be the “universal” church (I Cor 11:22).

    Since we all have the same Head and all are part of the same Body and all have been placed in that Body by the same Spirit, interdependent is a much better description of the relationship between churches than independent.

    We may be the local congregation and have a better sense of the local culture we are engaging and reaching, but as a counter-cultural community we share the culture of Jesus whose values are common across all churches. We may be the local congregation and know each other better and serve each other, but we should be open and receptive to new members and members visiting/passing through (see iii Jn 1:8-10).

  5. 6-6-2010

    er 3 Jn 1:8-10