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Old 11-23-2010, 11:13 AM   #33
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Default Re: OBW's Blog

In responding to a discussion a few weeks ago (can’t remember whether it was in this forum or the Bereans) I reread 1 Corinthians 14. Something caught my eye that I did not expect, specifically in verses 26 through 33. So I read it again, and have returned to it periodically for these few weeks. And as I was reading back through this past section of my blog where I expressed my concerns about the LRC, I note that there was a little bit of the same topic found here. It began in a portion of one of YP’s comments:
Originally Posted by YP0534 View Post
In my locality, I didn't have the experience of sitting through one-person-speaking-everybody-listening meetings. (OK, that's a slight exaggeration because that's what they were actually turning into when I left in the middle of "the New Way" being promoted everywhere else.) There wasn't much religious form at all. It was very unstructured. Virtually every meeting had the character of a prayer meeting and occasionally the "burden" of the meeting was never even accomplished.

But when you come upon them today, and you're given HWMR and instructions on how to "prophesy" and directions about observing seven feasts and such, can someone just look past all that encrusted junk?
I noted to myself that YP’s experience was not like the experience I had in which there was often either one or two LRC equivalents of a sermon each Sunday morning followed by what the Assemblies of God would call a “testimony meeting.” And this was almost a decade before him (different city). Maybe it would seem that the sermon/lesson time diminished at the end of the 70s and into the early 80s, only to return in parallel with the New Way.

In any case, I followed his comment with the following:
Originally Posted by OBW View Post
When we look at the general workings of a meeting from back in the 70s, it was new and fresh. And although it may never have been THE WAY, it was quite attractive.

Then the New Way made it less atractive, and then it became a thoroughly entrenched form that didn't even resemble the one that we had in the 70s that might have been worth keeping.

But those meetings where one person shared provided a way for those whose gift/charge was teaching to provide what the rest of us needs. The only problem is whether what is being taught is worthy of the time allotted. I have great respect for the diligence and care provided by those whose daily toil is in the Word. Of course, most of the sharing back in the LC was not often from their own toil, but from repeating someone else's. (Not saying that is always bad.)
So I read 1 Corinthians 14:26-33 again. And again. Several times. Even again this morning as I started this entry.
What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up. If anyone speaks in a tongue, two — or at the most three — should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and to God.

Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. For God is not a God of disorder but of peace — as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.
We are familiar with Paul’s restriction on those who would speak in tongues in a meeting to be only two or three, and then only with an interpreter. But then in verse 29 (the start of the second paragraph quoted) Paul also designates two or three prophets. All others should weigh carefully what is said. He then says that if a revelation comes to someone else, the one speaking should give way. Then he says all can prophesy in turn (or one-by-one).

Now there is a bunch of uncertainty as to what kind of revelation Paul is meaning when he suggests that someone speaking should simply give way. I doubt that he simply meant that if someone who is “weigh[ing] carefully what is said,” suddenly has an “aha” moment, and jumps up with “I get it!!” that the speaker should then sit down and his time is over. While that would be an exciting experience, I’m not sure that it reflects the God of peace but rather a God of disorder.

But beyond that, while verse 31 says “you can all prophesy in turn,” does that mean “all” in the sense of the entire assembly, or in the context of those who are among the two or three?

If it means the entire assembly, then that would make a mockery of Paul’s words concerning order and peace in the assembly, and make his request for “two or three prophets” to speak in an orderly fashion irrelevant. But if it means strictly those within the two or three, then “all” becomes an uncertain term.

“All” is a funny word. It can mean everything that can be reasonably included. If we speak of “all people,” it can mean everyone, either alive, or even ever alive. But it also can mean all people within a previously defined set of people,. for example, all Americans, or all Texans. It could even mean “all” of the three designated to speak that are a subset of 30, 300, or even 3,000.

And I admit that I tend to believe that, given the context of these two paragraphs, Paul is writing about order. He has designated a reasonable way to proceed. And to say that “all” here is simply everyone present at the assembly is out of context.

But I also am not so certain about this. Designating what is probably a rather small part of the whole, then saying “all” exclusively about them seems odd, although not linguistically incorrect. Yet giving the kind of direction that he has to reflect order in the church meeting and then effectively throw it open to a kind of chaos that “all” meaning the entire congregation would entail seems contradictory.

But beyond that, the very notion that some — elders or whoever — should exercise diligence and discernment over who is permitted to teach in the assembly, makes the “open mike” quite problematic. It forces the potential conflict of personalities that will arise when exercising care for the assembly into the public eye, even becoming a disruption to the meeting.

I’m sure that someone will suggest that I have just shot every kind of “testimony meeting” down as unacceptable. And it might seem so. But I do not have such a desire. I believe that there is a place for such times, even if not as prevalently practiced as in the LRC (in any time period). I might say more about this in a future post.

But it is interesting that Paul elsewhere stated that there are “some prophets,” along with some others. And here in 1 Corinthians he states that two or three prophets should speak. He was specific in defining a subset of the congregation. He did not say that two or three of the people present can speak. He said two or three prophets. And he said “two or three,” not “all present,” or “all regenerated who are present,” or even “all prophets.”

Now it may seem that I have made a conclusion. That would be partly correct and partly incorrect. While writing this, I think that I began to see through the fog a little more clearly. As a result of that, I do have a stronger leaning toward one way. But when I said that there are open questions, I meant it. I do not consider this a settled position. But more than that, I do not consider the ultimate answers to the questions to be matters of the faith. It is not important that it be one way or the other as far as orthodoxy is concerned. I don’t think orthodoxy is concerned with this.

But it appears that the LRC understanding of “all can prophesy” as meaning everyone present in the meeting may be the result of contextomy (quoting out of context). In this case, the result seems to be that a single sentence — in the middle of a paragraph about order and only a few speaking — disagrees with the context and gives the nod to everyone speaking.

I’m not sure that is what Paul was talking about.

I welcome brief comments here within the blog. If you want to do a significant discussion on this, start a new thread in the appropriate forum section and link back to this post. I'm not sure I have much more than I have already laid out, but I would be interested in participating if it seems interesting to others.
I once thought I was. . . . but I may have been mistaken — Edge (with apologies)
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