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8.31.2006

What the Bible says about 'church' vs. what the man-fearers say



People assume the common notion of 'church' is biblical, yet most of it is not. It is really just tradition that has grown over time. Foundationally it is the 'fear of man' taking the place of the 'fear of God.'

Here are links that give both sides:

James White - a Reformed Baptist - represents the man-fearing position (and actually sounds very Roman Catholic in this post).

This article, on the other hand, is the most in-depth and fair for the other side.

(This is a great web site, by the way. Truly a great web site. They also link to 5solas.org which shows they value real biblical doctrine above all, so they're not just lukewarm liberal types [Phil Johnson puts 5solas.org in the 'bad theology' category because of some hyper-Calvinism, so I'm not saying I endorse the site completely, just the classical, biblical formula of the five solas themselves, and I'm sure the batteredsheep site is merely linking to them for being representative of plain, biblical five solas doctrine].)

This whole subject is very big. Read the short James White post above (and maybe also this article which gives the common position of the fear-of-man-exhalting James White types in very clear language). The fear God only side is not about disdaining authority at all costs (we recognize the authority of the Sovereign of the Kingdom of God, Jesus Christ), it's about not taking part in the coercive enforcement of the fear (and reverence) of man. A Christian is a king and a priest (and also a prophet in that he has the Word of God). Christian liberty is real. A real Christian will assemble naturally with other Christians, and will also yield himself to other Christians, in a natural, brotherhood, way. It just happens naturally. You accept a teacher naturally if he has the Spirit and you are drawn to that and actually learn from it. But 'church' is much bigger and majestic and real as the Bible describes it (read the batteredsheep site linked above). And Christianity IS about individual election and personal relationships -- with God above preeminently. A Christian is a king; and the priesthood of all believers, a biblical doctrine that was recovered at the Reformation, is the most difficult-to-accept biblical doctrine for the more carnal Christian types, even the most Protestant, ironically. 'Individual' is not a bad word for a Christian. It is not some 'American disease.' Christians born from above, effected by the Word and the Spirit, have fellowship with other Christians naturally, and they recognize leadership qualities in teachers and others with other gifts of the Spirit naturally. Christians don't need coercion, and all the tactics that enforce man-fearing in the world. A real Christian knows when he is in that kind of environment and very well will avoid it, and probably give you some good biblical advice in strong terms. A Christian fears only God.

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