Monday, November 26, 2018

Adult Bible Study Guide (November 24-30): the Most Convincing Proof

It all began with the piano.

"The New Testament doesn't say anything about musical instruments," pointed out some church members at a Business Meeting. "So why do we use them in worship?"

Someone pointed out the New Testament doesn't say anything about PA systems either . . . 

So we ended up getting rid of both the piano and the PA system.

It seemed like a small price to pay for church unity.

And yes, that's when we also stopped using hymnals, bulletins, and PowerPoint; that's also when we banned neckties, watches, and ballpoint pens.

But getting rid of the pews? That came later -- only after someone noticed that nobody in the Bible ever sat in God's presence. (We did end up making an exception for wheelchairs, however; it's not like we're fanatics).

In short, we've done everything we could to avoid controversy -- yes, we've given in to anyone who kicks up a fuss.

And if that's not church unity, then what is?

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Adult Bible Study Guide (November 17-23): Unity in Faith

FROM: Special Commission on Doctrines and Practices
TO: Interim Church Advisory Group
RE: Pauline Statement of Belief 
As you know, Paul's been using the following Seven Statement for believers in Ephesus:
One body.
One Spirit.
One hope.
One Lord.
One faith.
One baptism.
One God and Father of us all.
While it is not objectionable per se, I wonder if this is yet another attempt of Paul's to minimize the difference between Gentile and Heritage believers. Thoughts?

FROM: Interim Church Advisory Group
TO: Special Commission on Doctrines and Practices
RE: Pauline Statement of Beliefs (Amended)
Good catch! As you said, there is nothing objectionable about this per se -- but given recent events in the church, it would be wise to add another three statements:
One Bible.
One Law.
One Way of Life for all His people.

FROM: Special Commission on Doctrines and Practices
TO: Interim Church Advisory Group
RE: Pauline Statement of Beliefs (Revised Amendments)
I like where you're going with this -- but given the special needs of our new believers, I'm wondering if we need to spell out the implications of these beliefs. For instance:
 One body (of believers whose Doctrines and Practices are in agreement).
 One Spirit (whose leading will confirm -- not contradict -- established truth and practice).
 One hope (of resurrection from the dead -- not immortality of the soul).
 One Lord (who return is yet future, but we have good reason to believe it will be soon).
One faith (which shall be defined as that Body of Beliefs that have been accepted by the Church in Council).
One baptism (by immersion of believers whose membership has been accepted by a vote of the local church.)
One God and Father of us all.One Bible (which does not include the Books of the Apocrypha you'll find in the Septuagint).
One Law (which was given by Moses).
One Way of Life for all His people (as decided by the Church in Council).

FROM: Interim Church Advisory Group
TO: Special Commission on Doctrines and Practices
RE: Additional Statement of Belief?
Better and better -- but I'm wondering if we need to say something about prayer?

FROM: Special Commission on Doctrines and Practices
TO: Interim Church Advisory Group
RE: More Additional Statements of Belief
Prayer would be good -- but add something about Creation, and that gives us twelve. 

FROM: Special Commission on Doctrines and Practices
TO: Interim Church Advisory Group
RE: More Additional Statements of Belief
You should be getting something from us soon with regard to prayer and Creation; we're also working on some statements about Family Life, and Christian Stewardship. (That brings us up to fourteen, which is twice as good as seven!)

FROM: Interim Church Advisory Group
TO: Special Commission on Doctrines and Practices
RE: Even More Additional Statements of Belief?
Looking forward to your statements -- and yes, I'd agree that Fourteen Statements of Belief is good, but I've got some ideas for another seven . . . 

Monday, November 12, 2018

Adult Bible Study Guide (November 10-16): When Conflicts Arise23-41

HOW TO DEAL WITH DISAGREEMENTS
LIKE THEY DO IN THE NEW TESTAMENT

1. Cast lots (Acts 1:23-26).
2. Confront them -- and watch Lord strikes them dead (Acts 5:1-11).
3. Complain until things change (Acts 6:1-7).
4. Tell them what you saw God do (Acts 11:1-18).
5. Call a church council to decide (Acts 15:1-35).
6. Go your own separate way (Acts 15:36-41).
7. Let the government sort it out (Acts 18:12-17; 19:23-41).
8. Make a show of loyalty to your critics (Acts 21:17-26).
9. Confront someone "to their face" in church (Galatians 2:11-16).
10. Write letters -- lots and lots of letters (cf. the New Testament).

Monday, November 05, 2018

Adult Bible Study Guide (November 3-9): Images of Unity

FROM: Jerusalem Church, Editorial Advisory Board,
TO: the Apostle Paul
RE: your recent manuscript submission

Again, we are sorry that the first manuscript you submitted has apparently been lost in the mail; we feel that your second manuscript, however, can stand on its own -- so much so, that we have given it the working title of "Paul's first letter to the church in Corinth."

As for the manuscript itself . . . while we certainly appreciate your "vigorous" approach to the situation in Corinth, we are concerned by your repeated statements that believers there are "the Temple of the Holy Spirit," and "the Body of Christ." Surely this cannot be true -- not in light of the numerous and flagrant sins that you describe. Either they are sinners or saints, in other words, but not both.

Then too, we are puzzled by your belief that some kind of "mutual love" is the best way to deal with the issues there in Corinth. At best, this is naive; at worst, it risks compromise. Either way, we believe it sets the wrong kind of precedent for dealing with problems in the church.

Given our concerns, you can understand why we are returning your manuscript at this time. If you write anything in the future, however, please don't hesitate to let us know.

(By the way -- angels are popular just now; could you send us something about angels ASAP?)

Friday, November 02, 2018

Adult Bible Study Guide (October 27 - November 2): the Experience of Unity in the Early Church

FROM: Jerusalem Church Advisory Group (JCAG)
TO: the Apostle Paul
RE: Church Unity

It has come to our attention that you have consistently ignored our church's historic policy with regard to to baptizing Gentiles. What is more, you have continued to do this in spite of the threat it poses to the unity of our church.

And yes, we are aware of your reports that the Holy Spirit is at work in their lives. Even if this is true, however, you fail to realize the difficulties this may cause in our older and more established churches -- churches that are still dealing with the organizational changes required by the baptism of Greek-speaking Jews!

And yes, we have always supported a mission to the Gentiles, even if it is not your mission to the Gentiles. But mission must not come at the expense of unity; that is why we are asking you to stop baptizing Gentiles immediately.