letters to surfers

Don't you agree that the multiplication of churches in America is wrong?
by Robert Brow  (www.brow.on.ca)

I assume that there is one church in my city of Kingston (Barrie, Toronto) or wherever.  In that sense the shibboleth of "the sin of division in my city" is pious nonsense.   The church in my city meets in dozens of different places with all sort of funny names (The church of the Good Thief, Kingston Gospel Hall, those who gather at the home of Mrs. Brow).  Each of these congregational locations may or may not be franchised by a denomination whose corporate headquarters is in Toronto, or Rome, or Texas.  Many of these franchising organizations wrongly call themselves The Church (The Anglican Church, The Roman Catholic Church, the Pentecostal Church, etc.). And some of these denominations have statements of faith which I could not sign.

That is not to deny the usefulness of denominations.  They help and support each different kind of flower in the Lord's garden.  He delights in differences, but Christian tulips complain that roses have thorns, and Christian roses (Anglicans ?) fault the irises for lack of smell.

But here in the city I recognize hundreds of brothers and sisters in the one body of the Messiah who may or may not attend a denominationally connected congregation on Sunday, but they are active and work with each other  in hundreds of ways permeating the whole city.  There is no such thing as church membership in the NT.  Membership is exercising a gift of the Spirit in the one body of this city (little children have the most important kind of membership).

Things can go wrong in a particular  location or group of congregations like a cancer  (Mollie has just been treated in the nick of time for melanoma), and the NT gives instructions for dealing with these (avoid them, correct them, etc.).    If all else fails (Revelation 2 & 3) the Lord can step in, and might even remove the candle of the church in a city (as he did in Asia Minor and North Africa).  But that is not the end.  As soon as we get Christians gathering in any way in a city, the church as a body is there (though in some places the government tries  to make it illegal as it was in Russia, and China).  Right now a million Christians of all stripes are working in every part of Arabia, so there too there is a church in each city, though no Christian gatherings or building are allowed in Saudi Arabia).    We should be grateful to the First Amendment of the American Constitution that guarantees the freedom of religion that allows the profusion of flowers.  Don't knock the way he tends his garden.

model theology home | essays and articles | books | sermons | letters to surfers | comments