newprotest.org: CHURCHES OF BABEL

CHURCHES OF BABEL

July 24, 2007
by: jovial_cynic
I recently added nakedpastor to my humble list of blogs on the side navigation. Like Carmen over at kingdom rising, the author of that blog digs to the heart of Christianity, challenging assumptions about the way church should be run, the way Christians are supposed to behave, and pretty much everything that the modern western church has to say about anything.

In a recent post, the Naked Pastor had this to say:

Sometimes I just don't know. When I read the New Testament, it really isn't that great a testimony to the strength and vitality of the early church. I mean, look at Jesus' church, which started with 12. And at the pinnacle of his career they all pretty much abandoned him. Then there's Paul's record. Not very impressive. I mean he did get lots of churches off the ground, but I think most eventually disintegrated. John's churches too. Read the gospel of John, The Revelation and the three epistles and you pretty much witness the erosion of church communities. I don't think because they didn't have church growth or maintenance skills, but because there's a gene present in any biblical community that prevents it from growing into some kind of tower of Babel. I think the healthiest communities do not have the guarantee of permanence.

In Genesis 11, we see the first institution of man -- a great tower-building project, designed to perpetuate the glory of the builders by making a name for themselves. And today, we see church builders doing the same. They create large buildings and assemble into monstrous denominations, boasting of how great and how large they are.

Yet the growth of the church - the ekklesia, or "ones called out" - isn't based on the construction of human hands. Jesus told the woman at the well that soon, men would no longer worship at the Temple, which was built during the reign of Solomon, but instead would worship by the Spirit of God Himself; He would be their temple.

And as much as God is the temple, He is responsible for caring for His people. It is God that provides the nourishment and protection to promote growth. This growth, as evidenced by the martyrdom of the apostles, was meant to be organic, such that believers would grow, reproduce, and then die. Communities, similarly, would grow, reproduce, and then die. This organic growth is seen clearly in God's work of creation. Man's attempt at creating permanent structures, whether they be buildings or denominations, is anything but organic. These are cold, soulless, man-made things. These are machines.

The consequence of Babel was the confusion of tongues. The consequence for today's churches is similar confusion, where denominational differences has served to scatter and isolate believers instead of bringing them together. The church is more fragmented now than it ever has been before.
np category: theology
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COMMENTS for CHURCHES OF BABEL


Ken said:
Cool man. I've been thinking a lot lately about entropy. The idea that all systems are breaking down. In my observation it is true of any system. From automobiles, to trees, civilizations, communities, and the human body. All systems are breaking down. This isn't a bad thing. Clearly this is a natural phenomenon; ie, as it was planned.
Even the sun will die.

July 28, 2007


jovial_cynic said:
Entropy occurs in closed systems, where no outside energy is being poured into that system.

While plants are sustained by the sun (which, as you said, will eventually die), even their apparent cycle (growth death, rebirth through reproduction) will eventually break down, although their cycle makes for a good illustration of intentional organic growth.

Perhaps the believing community's reliance on an eternal God is what gives us the notion of forever. But many get caught up in an earthly notion of forever, with structures and programs and legacies, and fail to see the spiritual side of forever.

July 28, 2007


Rebekah said:
I've always thought that real growth means the existing church getting cut in half or a third and those portions leaving... branching out... multiplying... and that ultimately growth isn't about the size of the church at all, or how many, but just that the gospel is getting spread and that hearts are turning to God. There's a book going around, Revolution, that talks about many Christians opting out of church, but yet still very much "on fire" for God... it starts out with two men playing golf on a Sunday morning...
Anyway, I enjoyed your thoughts on this.

July 28, 2007


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