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Old 04-25-2017, 10:00 PM   #128
Evangelical
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Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 3,978
Default Responses to the "church in LA" question.

It was asked whether there was a church in LA before Witness Lee. This question can be answered in different ways depending upon the context.

As Ohio rightly stated
"The church is spiritual, composed of believers, those born of God to be children of God. When these ones gather, it is the church, and He is in their midst."

and Drake stated
"the answer is that every christian in Los Angeles is a member of the church in Los Angeles regardless of where they attend and where they go."

This church is the universal church, the one that we are always apart of, 24/7 whether we "go to church" on Sunday or not. This is sometimes referred to as the universal body of Christ.

In this sense, the answer to the question of a church in LA is yes - there was a church in LA before Witness Lee.

But when we come to the practicality of it all, the Sunday church meetings, it is a different story. The practical expression of the church in a city should be simply "composed of believers, those born of God to be children of God". The local expression of the church should match the universal church definition.

If there was no practical local expression of the universal church before Lee then the answer is "no, there was no (practical) church in LA before Witness Lee.

It is easy to show that a denominational gathering in a city is not a local expression of the universal church - a gathering of Lutherans in one city and gathering of Lutherans in another city, are expressions not of the universal church but of those who adhere to Lutheranism. They do not define a gathering of simply "those born of God to be children of God".

However when a Christian goes to a baptist church because they agree with baptism by full immersion, and a Presbyterian goes to Presbyterian because that is all they have ever known, we have the situation of denominations. A denomination is a sect which means a cut, or divide in the body of Christ. Strictly speaking, a cut, or divide in the universal body of Christ, is not a church but a sect.

The reason why many people believe any denomination/sect is entitled to recognition as a church is explained by the following statement:

There is a "tendency of the modern non-Catholic world to consider all the various forms of Christianity as the embodiment of revealed truths and as equally entitled to recognition." http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13674a.htm

This is the reason many Protestants consider that any denomination that teaches the bible is a church. In other words, if you have a gathering of believers in your city and they teach/preach the bible then they are entitled to be a church according to this thinking. The problem is a church may preach and teach the bible but also be part of the gay church alliance. Clearly, a gathering of believers which supports homosexuality should not be considered a church. This situation is possible if sects are wrongly defined as churches.

If a person believes that any gathering in a city is a church then the answer to the question is "yes there was a church in LA before Witness Lee". This thinking is flawed however, because hypothetically speaking, a LGBT church could have been meeting in the city before Lee came, and no bible believing Christians would accept that a LGBT church is a genuine church.

However if we consider that all denominations in the city before Witness Lee were not churches, but sects, then the answer is "no, there was no church in LA before Witness Lee, only sects/divisions/denominations of various names, doctrines and practices".
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