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Apologetic discussions Apologetic Discussions Regarding the Teachings of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee

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Old 03-09-2010, 02:06 PM   #1
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Default Christ and the church is the Kingdom (semi-private discussion)

As the result of my response to a certain post relating to a change in direction of the “LCS Factor” thread on 2/3/2010 spearheaded by PriestlyScribe, tasteslikegold commented on mine and a discussion arose that was somewhat separate from the one PriestlyScribe was carrying on.

The title for the thread is not necessarily the whole of the topic, but was the first item that came up as a disagreement.

In an attempt to move our discussion, I identified some specific posts that were to be moved to a new thread. Unfortunately, it appears that technology got in the way and some of the intended posts were moved but not all, and a few that were not intended were also moved. So that we can begin our discussion, I have located all of the relevant posts where they currently reside. They are either in the “LCS Factor” thread (“LCSF”) or the “There is a Solution2” thread (“TIAS2”). They are (in chronological order with their current “home” and post # noted — times are based on Central time):

TIAS2 #1 (03-01-2010, 10:45 PM) by PriestlyScribe (the catalyst for the discussion)
LCSF #1328 (03-02-2010, 09:15 AM) by OBW (my response to PS)
LCSF #1329 (03-02-2010, 03:24 PM) by tasteslikegold
TIAS2 #4 (03-02-2010, 04:04 PM) by OBW
TIAS2 #5 (03-02-2010, 05:26 PM) by tasteslikegold
LCSF #1336 (03-03-2010, 09:22 AM) by OBW
TIAS2 #7 (03-03-2010, 09:32 AM) by OBW
TIAS2 #8 (03-03-2010, 11:23 AM) by tasteslikegold
TIAS2 #9 (03-03-2010, 12:29 PM) by OBW
LCSF #1338 (03-03-2010, 02:03 PM) by OBW
TIAS2 #11 (03-03-2010, 03:45 PM) by OBW
LCSF #1341 (03-04-2010, 09:25 AM) by OBW

As tasteslikegold suggested, I did my rather lengthy monologue based on his (may be a presumption to say “his,” but I’m sure that will be clarified) and now we will start discussing.

I presume that we will take one specific issue and discuss it until we are either closer to agreement, or at least understand the reasons that we are at an impasse. Either is acceptable as I do not remember any of this involving core items of the faith. (I would hope that we could agree on those at a minimum.)

For all who are observing, this is not necessarily a closed discussion, although we both request that any input be related to the discussion we are having and that it be added in a respectful manner. That does not preclude passion in your speech. We just do not want to insult each other or anyone else. This is not about me or TLG, but about understanding what we perceive to be truth.

This may not be ideal, but I think we both agree it would be better to start now than to wait any longer. The discussion has languished long enough.
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Old 03-09-2010, 02:10 PM   #2
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Default A practical addendum

As a practical note. I have typically gone to the post from which I intended to quote, pressed the “quote” button and then copied the entire thing into a Word document and done my editing there. Just situate the [ quote ...]at the beginning of any part you want to quote and end it with [ /quote ] (note I have inserted spaces to keep it from disappearing into the formatting of this post).

You can even go to another post and do the same, then put quotes from different posts into the same response.

The good part about using Word or another offline word processor is better visibility to the whole post and a better spell checker.

The bad part is getting it moved back to the forum. Unfortunately, I note that Word copies a bunch of additional codes back into the forum that it cannot handle. So you need a mediator. I use Notepad. Copy the whole thing into Notepad. You will need to add a single space on each blank line. Something about the HTML formatting doesn’t like to keep two “return” symbols without something intervening — like a space. Then copy from Notepad and paste into the forum “reply” box. If you had some colored lettering or bolding, you will need to do that again in the forum's edit box.

Pain in the you-know-what. But the results are better. It keeps you (and me) from responding too fast. Gives a chance to look at it and rethink wording.

If there is a better way, let me know. Once my computers went to Vista and/or Word 2007, direct copy-paste from Word just wasn’t an option. But I really like the features of Word when writing.
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Old 03-10-2010, 11:17 AM   #3
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Default Re: A practical addendum

Quote:
Originally Posted by OBW View Post
It keeps you (and me) from responding too fast. Gives a chance to look at it and rethink wording.
I prefer the immediacy of typing and sending. Like Martin Luther's "Letter from Birmingham Jail", though I'm not quite in his league!

I wonder why someone doesn't call Mr. Kangas on his "Christ and the church" rhetoric. I see no scriptural basis. Christ is our all, not Christ and the church.

When we believe into Jesus Christ, and acknowledge the common faith we share with others, Christ is well capable of building His church. When we place the church as an entity of itself, and on a par with God, no less, we do great disservice to the Gospel.

Yes, yes, I know -- "The Spirit and the Bride say come", but when we gather together and by the Spirit beckon our Beloved Bridegroom, it is not the Bride we eye, but Him. Yes, "...the church, which is His Body", but again, we only are tasked with seeing the Head, and our neighbor. Christ alone is capable to care for the Body. We are tasked to care for the person next to us. Anyone whe deigns to care for the Body in toto is venturing into territory reserved for God alone. You end up trying to control those for whom Christ died, and usurping the King. Instead, the King instructed you to love the person next to you, best as you can, and trust the Shepherd to care for the flock.

Jesus said to love God, and love our neighbor as ourselves. It doesn't say, "Love God, and love the church". It says love your neighbor. What happens when we unduly elevate 'the church' into a place for God alone, is that we pursue such a creation at the expense of our neighbors. Those who can't get with our program are jettisoned. Ask Steve Isitt what happened to him when he attempted to contact some of the flotsam and jetsam of the Local Church church-building program. He was immediately branded as contaminated. Such is the care that actual human beings get under the organization-promoting idea of "Christ and the church".

No, there is one mediator between God and man, and that is the Man Christ Jesus. There is no "Mother of God, Queen of Heaven", there is no "Pope", and there is no "Oracle". There is only Jesus. There is only one name given whereby men might be saved. Any organization placed on the same level as Jesus is bad thinking, bad theology, and ruinous to the humans for whom Christ came.
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Old 03-10-2010, 11:24 AM   #4
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Default Re: Christ and the church is the Kingdom (semi-private discussion)

aron,

I appreciate your thoughts. But let's wait for tasteslikegold to get his bearings on this altered format for the discussion and let the primary discussion get under way. We may or may not actually discuss your thoughts at some point, although I doubt it will be from the outset.

BTW: to tasteslikegold: Do you mind the shortening to "TLG" in some cases? I manage to misspell it often enough and it is giving my spell checker fits (which I do not necessarily mind). I have no actual objection either way.
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Old 03-10-2010, 03:11 PM   #5
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Default Re: Christ and the church is the Kingdom (semi-private discussion)

OBW: TLG works fine for me. I'll start my responses tomorrow. I appreciate your effort and patience.
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Old 03-22-2010, 04:49 PM   #6
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Default Re: Christ and the church is the Kingdom (semi-private discussion)

First response to post http://localchurchdiscussions.com/vB...10&postcount=9 regarding the kingdom:
I’ve been giving this some thought over the past week or so as to how I would respond in this debate with regard to the “kingdom of the heavens.” Looking back over some responses I did notice that here were some similarities in our arguments and so rather than addressing directly the matters in which we disagree, I thought I might present this first response as a clarification to you on how I see the kingdom. In doing so I hope to emphasize those matters upon which we agree and also to help contrast (at least in my mind) the matters upon which we may disagree.

I think to begin there needs to be a little clarification as to what is and what is not “the kingdom.” Whereas I believe that most Christians are taught that there is only one kingdom – the kingdom of God – in the book of Matthew there are actually two kingdoms being spoken of. You may be familiar with this if you’ve ever read the Recovery Version or had been in the Lord’s Recovery for any period of time. I think that acknowledging Lee’s theology regarding “the kingdom of the heavens” and “the kingdom of God,” at least to some degree, is important in this discussion to help clarify that these two aspects have varying expressions.

So to make this as short as possible, simply if you refer to the RcV’s footnote 4 to Matthew 5:3 you will get the definition. The kingdom of God is God’s eternal reign from eternity past to eternity future. It includes all of the created items, including the earth, humanity, etc.; and it includes what we call “the kingdom of the heavens,” which is not a separate kingdom itself, but rather a very specific aspect of God’s eternal realm. The kingdom of the heavens came, or “drew near” by Christ’s incarnation, and is essentially the church as the practical expression of Christ, who is the king, on the earth.

Now, the issues we were discussion were pertaining to the expressions of the kingdom in various ways. As I recall your argument, you were stating that the church meetings are not in and of themselves the only or primary expressions of the kingdom of the heavens, and I agree with that. However, we were also discussing “the church life,” which you disagreed was anything but the attendances of the saints in various meetings, conferences, etc. If I understand that correctly to be your argument, then I could not more disagree. I equate “the church life” to be the totality of one’s interactions with Christ primarily and with the body of Christ secondarily. To me, the “church life” is literally my Christian life.

Where I think some of the confusion lied (And perhaps where some of our differences lie) is our understanding of “expression.” Something that is “expressed” in my opinion relates to an inward nature or inherent quality being outwardly experienced or viewed. So the church has an inward nature – that of Christ – which is experienced inwardly (spiritually) through prayer, through fellowship, etc. both individually and corporately, and which is expressed outwardly. Lee identifies these two aspects: The experience he calls “the reality” and the expression he calls “the appearance.” Therefore, the kingdom of the heavens can be identified as a “body of believers” which has Christ as their king. Why? Because they have the nature of the king (His life) and they have the headship of Christ – the king – as their authority. Paul identifies this kingdom as a “commonwealth” in the heavens in Phil. 3:20 and identifies its constituents as citizens in Eph. 2:19.

In my next post I will deal with a couple of specific comments you made with regard to the LC in your response.
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Old 03-24-2010, 02:45 PM   #7
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Default Re: Christ and the church is the Kingdom (semi-private discussion)

Second Response to post: http://localchurchdiscussions.com/vB...10&postcount=9

You wrote:

Quote:
But no matter what kind of things you say to agree that the things outside the meetings are also the kingdom, you must combat the mountain of evidence that the whole of the LC existence is about the private transformation of its members into more spiritual people. And that transformation is focused on inward aspects of the Christian life (also referred to as the inner life) and on the corporate, meeting aspects.

Look at the entire collection of Lee’s writings. They are available online now. I have read some of them in the past, and others online. I have also perused many more to gain an appreciation for the nature and topics covered. It is virtually all about what goes on inside the believer and how the church must be patterned in thus and so a way and its meetings must be of a certain general type. And avoid having a name (but don’t forget who is the one with The New Testament Ministry, you know, God’s Oracle).
I’m getting a tone here that you feel the building up of the spiritual life of the individual (and thus the church) is a bad thing, at least as far as the LC approaches it. In my years under this ministry I’ve not seen or experienced this aspect of the LC doctrine in such a way that it contradicts either the New Testament or the typical pattern of other “deeper life” Christian ministries historically. Now, you may feel that the way the LC does things is particular to the extent that it is sectarian. That’s fine. However, I would contend that it is no more sectarian or particular in this aspect that many other deeper life ministries and churches.

Quote:
Yes there are practical things, like service groups so that the toilets get cleaned and the lawn gets mowed. The manner in which this is done is exemplary. But once the practical goes outside the boundaries of the property that the meeting sits upon, it is only about the breaking of bread from house to house. It is not about bridling the tongue or demonstrating your holiness through holy, righteous living. That is said to be just “works” and is to be avoided.

Unfortunately, more of what Jesus taught and said was about what you do and who you are than what you believe or how good your meetings are (actually, nothing on the latter). He never suggested that scripture was a treasure trove of doctrines. He said that you were to obey. And he upped the ante, so to speak. You don’t just have to engage in sex with another’s wife to commit adultery. You just have to think about it. Yes, He does provide the way to actually do it all. And, to use LC terminology, that “thing” provided is Himself. (I will return to this in another post if I can remember it.) But He did not make that provision so that we would look within to find Him, but that we would have the way to actually do what the OT saints had to fail at and kill yet another animal to cover.

Obedience is the primary admonition of Jesus. Yes, he also says “eat” and “drink” and “believe.” But if you aren’t obeying, then there is a serious question mark on those more “spiritual” activities. I am not suggesting that the LC is just a hollow sham that is only putting on a show of false spirituality. But it is so completely off balance in that it openly mocks those who actually obey in caring for the needy. If the outpouring of the spirituality should be obedience, and if the LC’s version of how to be spiritual is as superior as they claim it is, then they should be the most active at the homeless shelters and orphanages. They should be bending over backwards to be in full fellowship with every believer that meets with any group that does not entirely agree with them. But instead, they are a group that makes statements like “the purpose of the church is to preach the gospel, not take care of the needy.” Please be sure to repeat that one more time when your life is placed on display on “that day.” The sound of “depart from me…” might be heard a lot more than anyone in the LC could imagine.
So, essentially what you are contending here is that the LC doesn’t respond to the inner prompting which should naturally result from spiritual growth – that being to take care of our fellow man in ways such as visiting the sick, the hungry, etc. Yet I am remiss to find a single teaching of this sort from the Lord Jesus other than “sell all you have and give to the poor.” Yes, we have Matthew 25:34-35, but if you read that carefully He’s talking about the saints – the church – during the tribulation. In fact, in principal He’s talking about the church at all times. The church should at all times first take care of the members – the poor, the sick, those in prison, etc. How can the church expect to bear the burden of those in the world if it cannot first take care of its own? In fact, how can the church even have the standing to preach the gospel, to fulfill “the Great Commission”?

Of course we also have James who said that, “true and undefiled religion” is, “to visit orphans and widows in their affliction…” I am not at all diminishing the clear mandate in God’s Word that we should take care of those in need in the world. However, I do contend that this is not a specific burden of all ministries, nor should it be the most primary function of the church. I see absolutely no problem with one ministry focusing more attention on building up the believers in the faith and simply allowing their burdens for taking care of the poor, hungry, etc. to be carried out individually. In fact, considering that many churches today are failing at equipping the saints with even the most fundamental aspects of the faith, I’d say that a lot of ministries would do well to limit their “missions” in various fields and focus on the primary function of the church. According to the Harris Institute (http://www.harrisinteractive.com/vau...fs-2008-12.pdf), only a little more than half of all professed Christians believe that the Old and New Testaments respectively are the Word of God. A large percentage of Christians claim to believe in ghosts, UFOs and evolution (of the last more Catholics than Protestants). Now, I haven’t personally run the numbers, but I would be willing to bet that the writings of Peter, Paul and John were in greater percentage concerned with the equipping of the saints to withstand heresies, persecutions, and with the building up of the Body of Christ, than going out to feed the hungry, heal the sick, help the poor, etc. Given the fact that various ministries are not only distracted with good works but are watering down the gospel of Christ with “ear tickling” sermons, I’d say that focusing strictly on the primary work of the church – building up the Body of Christ – is not at all a bad thing. In fact it’s what’s most needed.

I'm not sure where you got the quote, “the purpose of the church is to preach the gospel, not take care of the needy.” but I'm not entirely in disagreement with it. The primary purpose of the church is to preach the gospel. Taking care of the needy happens to be a part of that. I don't think that you can isolate a single phrase like this from an unknown source and use it to characterize the ideology of a ministry that's been around for more than 60 years. I'll take it as ignorance, however, of the fact that both Watchman Nee and Witness Lee taught pretty frequently that we need to take care of the needy both in the church and outside the church.

Quote:
In closing (on this one) look at the so-called “Great Commission.” Notice the parameters. What is it about? It is about discipling (causing to follow), baptizing, and teaching to obey. “Believe” is not in that list. I do not suggest that we have no need to believe. But that is actually not the primary thing about salvation. Salvation is ultimately a change in your life. It begins with a belief that provides the way. Then it is followed by acting according to that way because you have received the way.
I don't think I've ever heard another Christian argue that the need to believe is not the primary thing about salvation. Do I really need to point out to someone so obviously learned as yourself that believing into the Son is not merely the initiation of salvation but a continual process? The verb form of believe is, "believe and believe and believe." In many places in the New Testament it is used in conjunction with "believing faith." How can the nations in Matthew 28:19 be discipled if they are not first convinced of the gospel? Being convinced is a matter of believing, which means that practically we have to have Romans 10:14 before we can have Matthew 28:19.
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Old 03-28-2010, 08:33 PM   #8
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Default Re: Christ and the church is the Kingdom (semi-private discussion)

Before we get into this issue, let's take a look at the specific item I was quoting. It was Ron Kangas and he said

Quote:
Originally Posted by PriestlyScribe View Post
The first thing I would say is we need to re-affirm the priority - and that is, we are here seeking the Kingdom first. And first is Christ and the church.
Here we can see that the starting point is a reference to the Kingdom. No qualifier, even if valid. Just the kingdom. And you have defined (and I presume because Lee defined) the Kingdom of heaven as a present subset of the Kingdom of God.

But Ron does not present any qualifier to identify this as speaking about anything other than the Kingdom in its fullness, which is the Kingdom of God. And his wording places "Christ and the church" as being the equivalent of the Kingdom. There is a way of looking at it that would indicate that there is nothing without Christ, therefore He can be argued as being all. But, as has been pointed out in reference to a number of other "is just Christ" statements, those kind of views negate the reality of the actual thing that is grace, mercy, truth, or in this instance, the Kingdom. Saying that the Kingdom is just Christ places a veil over the whole that is the fullness of the Kingdom.

But then you respond with a discussion of a kingdom in two parts with two names. But to create the split, you point to Matt 5:3, footnote 4. I will not reprint it here, but there is nothing in the footnote that makes it so. Lee has simply said "[The] Kingdom of the heavens is a term used exclusively by Matthew, indicating that the kingdom of the heavens differs from the kingdom of God." But he supplies no basis for making this claim that it "indicates" any such thing. Do you see in either paragraph of this footnote that there is a basis for such statement?

I know Lee argued for two kingdoms. But even his footnote provides nothing but a bare statement that it is so. It is this kind of hollow, meaningless talk that has caused me to lose respect for Lee. He did not take scriptural text and show how it means something that can be seen as being there. He too often has to apply some overarching metaphor or principle that is said to alter meaning from the obvious. And then there is this case. He didn't even bother to apply some principle or metaphor. He simply said that there is something there for which there is nothing supporting the statement. He doesn’t even pretend that there is. He just says that it is so. (This is where I typically refer to some Monty Python humor and say "and there was much rejoicing. Yea." I know that seems trite, but Lees whole footnote is trite. We should all be ashamed of ourselves for ever buying a completely baseless claim as this, and probably following its hearing with shouts of "Hallelujah" and a bunch of popcorn testimonies.)

But when I look at the terminology in Matthew, I see no basis for differentiation. In fact, a number of the references to "Kingdom of heaven" or "of the heavens" are stated in one or more of the other gospels as "Kingdom of God." There is little more convincing evidence that Matthew merely used a different terminology but meant the same thing. But more than that, even Matthew points to the commonality of the two terms in chapter 19, specifically in verses 23 and 24 where in discussing the ability of the rich to enter the kingdom, he uses both terms. Rather than presume that Jesus was making two independent statements about two different kingdoms, it should be clear that it is simply an identity and the kingdom of heaven is equal to the kingdom of God.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tasteslikegold View Post
Where I think some of the confusion lies (And perhaps where some of our differences lie) is our understanding of “expression.” Something that is “expressed” in my opinion relates to an inward nature or inherent quality being outwardly experienced or viewed. So the church has an inward nature – that of Christ – which is experienced inwardly (spiritually) through prayer, through fellowship, etc. both individually and corporately, and which is expressed outwardly. Lee identifies these two aspects: The experience he calls “the reality” and the expression he calls “the appearance.” Therefore, the kingdom of the heavens can be identified as a “body of believers” which has Christ as their king. Why? Because they have the nature of the king (His life) and they have the headship of Christ – the king – as their authority. Paul identifies this kingdom as a “commonwealth” in the heavens in Phil. 3:20 and identifies its constituents as citizens in Eph. 2:19.
That is an aspect of expression. But the kind of expression that the LC seems to focus upon is the spirituality of the members as seen within the assembly and in their corporate existence. Surely this is part of the expression of the Kingdom of God. But when we really go "back to the beginning" we would find that the purpose of man was to be in the image of God and to subdue, care for, and replenish the earth. That charge, moved forward 5,000 years until today would be seen in the totality of the living of the people who were the "replenishment."

And when I consider the expression of the Kingdom of God being about the expression of the "body" which is mostly about meetings and communal living, it has the impact of calling the beauty of some cathedral as being the expression of the goodness that is within the members inside. But even if that is true, it is no match for the expression of what is inside spilling out into the complete lives of the individuals. It flows out into righteousness in all circumstances. You indicate in a later post that this is mainly or completely about things done for and to the believers. But if we only do for our own, we are no better than the heathen who take care of their own. What kind of testimony of the God who "loves the world" is that? It isn't. That is a God who loves those who love Him. That's how the pagans see their gods.

This topic does come up in the next post, so I will continue it there. But having said that, would you prefer to finish your overall response and then come back to this one topic so we can discuss it until we decide to move on, or should I respond down your posts again. My time to give to this has diminished lately. I sense that it is the same with you. But we do not need to be in a hurry. Eventually we should probably take the different points of contention and hash them out separately rather than continually going through them all then waiting for the other to catch up. But whether now is the time for that is your call.
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Old 04-02-2010, 09:36 AM   #9
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Default Regarding "Terminology"

Regarding Terminology:

You wrote:
Quote:
You seem to go back and forth about what is important or unimportant about terminology. It is clear from the beginning that using terminology that is “religious” or “overly religious” is a problem to you, Lee, and the LC in general. Yes, terminology may change as culture changes. But unless it is actually intended to say something that is incorrect, then what is the problem with any of it, from the oldest to the newest? Or from the most secular to the most religious?
So essentially, “If it ain’t broke why fix it? Well, because changes in terminology affect changes in understanding and behavior. This has been widely known for centuries – ever since the beginnings of the Roman Church in fact (As far as Christianity is concerned anyway). The Roman Church is perhaps the most obvious example of terminology affecting understanding and behavior. This institution is rife with religious terminology, which from its inception has kept the clergy apart from the laity; at one time kept the educated apart from the uneducated, and the rich apart from the poor.

Also take as an example the “African-American” population in the U.S. At one time referring to a an African-American man or woman as “Negro” was perfectly acceptable. Then at some time it became associated with a term of derision, so it was changed to “black.” Then, at another point it was changed to “African-American” or “Afro-American.” Now, many don’t object to being called “black,” but some do. Yet the point is that the terminology evolved as a people desiring to change public perception evolved in our society. It is far more accurate to refer to one of African descent an “African-American.

There are changes like this going on all the time, in fact. In the scientific community changes to terminology is going on all the time. In our culture we are constantly changing the way we refer to things, to groups of people, in order to respect people, more accurately define conditions, objects, etc. and to change perception and behavior. So why should the church be any different?

Quote:
It is true that people often think of “going to church.” It happens to all Christians, even those in the LC. But since you don’t use that term at all, you think that the thought inside is eliminated. But at the same time, people who are totally engaged in their worship and know that they are the church and that the meeting is just a meeting of the church still use the term. So what? Curse them? I am not saying that you are cursing them, but the LC takes pride in its better terminology. “We are the church. We don’t ‘go to church’.”
And why shouldn’t we take pride in a better terminology, especially if the employment of such terminology deepens our experiences of worship, and even Christ Himself? See, you believe that the employment of certain terminology is inherently divisive facilitates self-pride. But I would suggest that if such pride is taken it is only because of some individuals’ immaturity, not, as you suggest, that it is reinforced by the leadership. Never, not once, have I ever attended a training, spoken personally with any elder or co-worker, or even spoken to another member of the LC who said something to the effect of, “We are so much better than the rest of Christianity because we understand that Jesus is the “all-inclusive Christ. We have the all-inclusive Christ but poor Christianity just has Christ.” In fact, I have experienced quite the opposite. At some point in my early experiences with the LC I was rebuked for having said something about Christianity, and I have also seen others put in their place by LC leadership for criticizing other Christians in the manner I mentioned.


Quote:
And rewrite the “Doxology” so that you sing “Holy Spirit” rather than “Holy Ghost.” (You may not have experienced this, but it was a regular thing in the Dallas area.) Don’t pray to God in Heaven; pray to God in your spirit. Don’t set your mind on the Spirit; instead turn to your spirit.

If the reality of “turn to your spirit” was simply parallel with “set your mind on the spirit” that would be fine. But it would be better if when talking with the majority of Christians that you use the terminology they understand rather than using your own and wondering why they are giving you blank stares.
I never wonder at blank stares. In fact I sometimes use the common terminology in conjunction with LC terminology, and most people tend to understand. If they don’t then I explain it and it’s rarely ever a problem.

Incidentally, “Holy Spirit” is hardly an exclusive term by any means. And as far as “turn to your spirit,” it is the same thing as setting the mind on the spirit, as “turning” requires the setting of the mind. This is usually explained when someone has a question about it. You seem to have the impression that the typical LC member uses unqualified terminology in the company of the “typical Christian” and then just walks off leaving them to wonder. If such a thing does happen it’s extremely rare.

Quote:
And “religion.” There is an altered term. No, Lee did not create an entirely new definition. Instead he took one definition of many and said that was the definition that applied in all cases. And so everything not LC became “religious” in a negative sense. And every time someone uses the term religion or religious in a positive way, it is taken as evidence of degradation because religion is only negative.
Actually I’ve read books in which Nee and Lee both use the term religion to simply describe other religions. Yet I do understand that “religion” in the sense of Christianity is used in a specific (although not uncommon or unusual) way to denote the negative aspects of ritual, the keeping of the law, good works, etc. But such a thought, such an employment of this terminology is hardly rare in the history of Christendom. You seem to only take umbrage at the fact that Lee (and actually Nee as well) uses it only in the negative sense. Yet this ignores somewhat the essential point of how the term is employed: To help believers dispose of the notion that they need anything other than a direct personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

We could probably argue endlessly about that last point. Perhaps it’s just best to leave it at the disagreement and move on. I personally do not, have not, ever believed that the facilities of “religion” help to foster a deep personal relationship with Christ. In fact I have only ever experienced in my life that religion became a barrier between myself and Christ. So when I read or hear a message in which religion is negative I tend to agree with it always.

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I hope that by that last sentence you don’t think that it is the overflowing of LC ways into mainstream Christianity. Your group is too small and mostly unseen to be a source of such a significant thing. But I digress.
Not necessarily. Especially not when we have the heritage of Watchman Nee, who is respected largely by Christian teachers. Nevertheless, the point regarding “home meetings” was not to point out how some group(s) have picked up on our terminology, but to show that the use of specific terminology is not as confusing as you argue it is. When I say “home meeting” and someone else hears “Bible study” there’s no confusion there. Neither is there a need to say, “We’re having a home meeting. Well to YOU that would be ‘Bible study’ but you know ‘home meeting’ is better.” That doesn’t exist. Neither does the impression that “home meeting” is better than “Bible study” get left when the term is used in front of your average Christian.

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The “trumpet thing” was about confusion and the inability of people to follow and understand what was being said and/or happening. Whether it is about entirely different languages or merely specialized jargon that is not understood by the populace, the effect is the same.
I disagree. Speaking an entirely unknown tongue is not nearly the same as using different terminology, and neither is it the same as “trumpeting.” Were that the case then we are all guilty of “trumpeting.” How much specialized jargon does the Roman Church employ that many Protestants don’t understand? What about southern Baptist or Pentecostal congregations? There’s specialized jargon all throughout Christendom, most of which is largely ignored. Yet for some reason you believe that only the LC is guilty?

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So if I say “Holy Communion” does something inside you say “religious”? Even if you mentally assent to the notion that there is nothing wrong with the term, is there still something deeper — some kind of sense that you can’t quite put into words — that sinks? And you (well maybe not you personally) consider that sinking feeling to be a sense in your spirit? Do you really think that God is that concerned about the terminology? Isn’t that a little like washing the outside of the cup?
I think that God is concerned with the heart. I agree with you to a degree that terminology is unimportant. But if it is truly as unimportant as you make it seem, why do you take issue with any person or group’s desire to utilize terminology in a manner that is befitting their own overall belief (practice, culture, doctrine, etc. – all the things that help to drive changes in language and terminology)?

If I said to you that “participation in the sacraments makes me an authentic member of the universal church, the Body of Christ, and my salvation is dependent upon participation in the sacraments” do you get a sinking feeling? And yet you may understand that over-reliance upon a religious ritual, couched in religious terminology, can draw my heart away from a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ. Why would you not have the desire to point that out to me? Again, this gets into the whole ‘religion is only ever negative” argument. But at a certain point the two issues sort of merge. So while God may not be overly concerned with terminology I believe He is very much concerned with how terminology affects behavior and causes His people to be far removed from him.
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Old 04-02-2010, 09:43 AM   #10
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Default Regarding "The Kingdom"

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I know Lee argued for two kingdoms. But even his footnote provides nothing but a bare statement that it is so. It is this kind of hollow, meaningless talk that has caused me to lose respect for Lee. He did not take scriptural text and show how it means something that can be seen as being there. He too often has to apply some overarching metaphor or principle that is said to alter meaning from the obvious. And then there is this case. He didn't even bother to apply some principle or metaphor. He simply said that there is something there for which there is nothing supporting the statement. He doesn’t even pretend that there is. He just says that it is so. (This is where I typically refer to some Monty Python humor and say "and there was much rejoicing. Yea." I know that seems trite, but Lees whole footnote is trite. We should all be ashamed of ourselves for ever buying a completely baseless claim as this, and probably following its hearing with shouts of "Hallelujah" and a bunch of popcorn testimonies.)
This is a matter of opinion, so it’s really hard to dispute your claim that he used “overarching metaphors,” etc. Your cynicism is duly noted…again…however. ‘

I trust that you are not aware that Lee is far from being alone in his view that the differentiation in terminology that Matthew’s gospel employs is far from insignificant. I’ll address your subsequent paragraph which starts with, “But when I look at the terminology in Matthew, I see no basis for differentiation.” By simply linking a few sources for you to examine.
Scofield Reference Edition Bible (KJV): “Chapter 3
3:2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
(1) The phrase, kingdom of heaven (lit. of the heavens), is peculiar to Matthew and signifies the Messianic earth rule of Jesus Christ, the Son of David. It is called the kingdom of the heavens because it is the rule of the heavens over the earth Matthew 6:10 The phrase is derived from Daniel, where it is defined ; Daniel 2:34-36 Daniel 2:44 ; Daniel 7:23-27 as the kingdom which the God of heaven will set up after the destruction by "the stone cut out without hands," of the Gentile world-system. It is the kingdom covenanted to David's seed 2 Samuel 7:7-10 described in the prophets; (See Scofield "Zechariah 12:8") and confirmed to Jesus the Christ, the Son of Mary, through the angel Gabriel Luke 1:32 Luke 1:33 .
(2) The kingdom of heaven has three aspects in Matthew:
(a) "at hand" from the beginning of the ministry of John the Baptist Matthew 3:2 to the virtual rejection of the King, and the announcement of the new brotherhood Matthew 12:46-50
(b) in seven "mysteries of the kingdom of heaven," to be fulfilled during the present age Matthew 13:1-52 to which are to be added the parables of the kingdom of heaven which were spoken after those of Mt. 13., and which have to do with the sphere of Christian profession during this age;
(c) the prophetic aspect--the kingdom to be set up after the return of the King in glory. Matthew 24:29-25:46 ; Luke 19:12-19 ; Acts 15:14-17 See "Kingdom (N.T.)" ; Luke 1:33 ; 1 Corinthians 15:28 Cf. "Kingdom of God," (See Scofield "Matthew 6:33") .

The Condensed Biblical Encyclopedia (Blueletterbible.com): http://www.blueletterbible.org/searc...ist&DictList=1

Easton’s bible Dictionary (Blueletterbible.com): http://www.blueletterbible.org/searc...God&DictList=2

Dispensational Truth (Blueletterbible.com) – Note the chart at top. Look familiar at all?: http://www.blueletterbible.org/study/larkin/dt/13.cfm
The point here is not to prove or disprove the above commentaries, it’s simply to show that Lee was never alone in the view that there is importance – especially to a dispensationalist approach – and significance to Matthew’s employment of differentiating terms. And all cynicism aside, I trust that you are well aware that many of the footnotes in the Recovery Version were derived from larger published works, such as the Life Study of the Bible, fro example. So had you really wanted to fully understand Lee’s view the publications were always available for you to do so. Frankly that your assertion that Lee’s claim was “hollow” really speaks to a certain level of ignorance on your part. Witness Lee hardly ever made flippant remarks or claims without a lot of following qualification; and not without having repeated such qualification in various trainings, etc.

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That is an aspect of expression. But the kind of expression that the LC seems to focus upon is the spirituality of the members as seen within the assembly and in their corporate existence. Surely this is part of the expression of the Kingdom of God. But when we really go "back to the beginning" we would find that the purpose of man was to be in the image of God and to subdue, care for, and replenish the earth. That charge, moved forward 5,000 years until today would be seen in the totality of the living of the people who were the "replenishment."
Yet, as you imply, in the "corporate" sense. God has always concerned himself with a group of people, designed to be the corporate expression of Himself. Adam was created that way, Abraham was called out by God to be that way, Israel was designed to be that way, and ultimately the church [i]is the fulfillment[/b] of that design. So how could the "spirituality of the members as seen within the assembly" be diverse from the kingdom?

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And when I consider the expression of the Kingdom of God being about the expression of the "body" which is mostly about meetings and communal living, it has the impact of calling the beauty of some cathedral as being the expression of the goodness that is within the members inside. But even if that is true, it is no match for the expression of what is inside spilling out into the complete lives of the individuals. It flows out into righteousness in all circumstances.
I agree with that. We don't disagree about individual's living being an expression of the kingdom at all. If anything we part ways in the overall importance of one expression over the other. If righteous living, expressions of the kingdom in various ways are the "spilling out" of the corporate meetings, then it's the corporate meetings that are the primary expression. Ephesians 4:7-16 is the perfect example of the need of the members to function in the Body corporately as the expression of Christ. If any believer thinks that he doesn't need the members of the church, the meetings of the church, in order to have a righteous living then he's being fooled. The writer of Hebrews was pretty blunt about this "Not abandoning our own assembling together, as the custom with some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more as you see the day drawing near." (Heb. 10:25)

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You indicate in a later post that this is mainly or completely about things done for and to the believers. But if we only do for our own, we are no better than the heathen who take care of their own. What kind of testimony of the God who "loves the world" is that? It isn't. That is a God who loves those who love Him. That's how the pagans see their gods.
Actually paganism is all about doing "good works" which is primarily doing for others so that you might win the favor of God. Wicca's primary tenet is "do no harm" new Age philosophy is about doing good to humanity and to the earth, even Mormonism and Catholicism, which are both mixtures of paganism and Christianity, are rife with good works and lawkeeping as the primary means of "making God happy." True "service" to God is first offering yourself up as a sacrifice to him, allowing him to gain your heart, grow in you, and the result is His expression. That expression manifests itself in various ways, including good works. Otherwise your "righteousness" is self-derived and useless to God - no matter how "good" it is.

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This topic does come up in the next post, so I will continue it there. But having said that, would you prefer to finish your overall response and then come back to this one topic so we can discuss it until we decide to move on, or should I respond down your posts again. My time to give to this has diminished lately. I sense that it is the same with you. But we do not need to be in a hurry. Eventually we should probably take the different points of contention and hash them out separately rather than continually going through them all then waiting for the other to catch up. But whether now is the time for that is your call.
I have a tough time being "linear" in my thinking, so I purposefully try to address what I see as the larger issues and dispense with the smaller tertiary issues. Some have seen this as disregarding what they feel to be a larger point, but if allowed to first dispense with the greater points, sometimes those tertiary issues are discussed. So here's what I view as being the primary issues thus-far:

The Kingdom of God and it's expression(s)
The use of and importance of exclusive terminology.

Tertiary to those subjects are: Religion, specific issues pertaining to how LC members view the LC as opposed to Christendom.

I welcome any clarification/correction of these issues. I think that if we can agree what is really important here we can concentrate on those things and allow the discussion to evolve as we dispense with those issues. As for time, yes, I am pressed for time in other areas of my life. It is also hard fro me personally to devote a lot of time time to responding as I tend to be some what of a perfectionist in the way that I compose my responses. So where words may flow easily for some others, they don't with me. I have to spend quite a bit of time thinking about how I'm composing my responses. I do appreciate your continued patience and willingness to pursue this discussion at length without regard for time constraint. As for now, I'm passing the ball back to your court. I think I've just about answered everything that I feel was important to the discussion.
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Old 04-02-2010, 11:38 AM   #11
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Default Re: Regarding "Terminology"

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Originally Posted by tasteslikegold View Post
If I said to you that “participation in the sacraments makes me an authentic member of the universal church, the Body of Christ, and my salvation is dependent upon participation in the sacraments” do you get a sinking feeling? And yet you may understand that over-reliance upon a religious ritual, couched in religious terminology, can draw my heart away from a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ. Why would you not have the desire to point that out to me?
This is a strawman argument. I never suggested that actually saying something wrong was OK under the guise of terminology being unimportant. You even quoted where I said "unless it is actually intended to say something that is incorrect" yet now want to throw in a theologically incorrect statement to say that terminology is important.
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Originally Posted by tasteslikegold View Post
And why shouldn’t we take pride in a better terminology, especially if the employment of such terminology deepens our experiences of worship, and even Christ Himself? See, you believe that the employment of certain terminology is inherently divisive facilitates self-pride. But I would suggest that if such pride is taken it is only because of some individuals’ immaturity, not, as you suggest, that it is reinforced by the leadership.
So is it "why shouldn't we take pride in a better terminology" or " only because of some individuals’ immaturity"? Pick a side. If you think you can straddle on this one, I don't see it.
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Incidentally, “Holy Spirit” is hardly an exclusive term by any means.
And in all you said in this context, it is clear that you missed the point. It was that getting the terminology right is so important that altering many of the words of a song so that "Spirit" can be inserted in the place of "Ghost." It made the singing too distracting and almost humorous to be of any value in worship. No. the LC does not "own" the term "Holy Spirit." I did not in any way suggest that it did.
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Originally Posted by tasteslikegold View Post
Speaking an entirely unknown tongue is not nearly the same as using different terminology, and neither is it the same as “trumpeting.” Were that the case then we are all guilty of “trumpeting.” How much specialized jargon does the Roman Church employ that many Protestants don’t understand? What about southern Baptist or Pentecostal congregations? There’s specialized jargon all throughout Christendom, most of which is largely ignored. Yet for some reason you believe that only the LC is guilty?
To the extent that any group uses its terminology as a basis of pride, I agree that it is not a uniquely LC issue. But to the extent that they use the terminology to describe what they believe and simply feel that it does it well and yet have no intent of gloating over their position or terminology, then it is not what I was talking about.

I used this analogy in a different context. This goes beyond terminology to the core of the belief that is behind it, yet can be viewed as somewhat benign. Some believe that bread and wine become the actual body and blood of Christ. Others believe that Christ is "beneath" the elements. These two have differing terms for their belief. While there is a "take" on the Lord's table that I cannot recall, the fourth is that it is a sacrament ordained by Christ as a remembrance of His death. But no matter which of these you follow, if you ultimately remember, then what is the problem with the add-on beliefs (even if ultimately incorrect)? And what is the importance of the terminology? To stand and beat your chest and claim the most theologically correct position and terminology is to act as the Pharisee as he gloated that he was not like the publican.

I would agree that trying to direct people to correct belief is important. But terminology is not belief. It could color belief, or could mask true belief. But it does not do so because it is not the preferred terminology, but because the actual belief is incorrect.

But I still disagree with the notion that Paul's use of the trumpet metaphor in 1 Corinthians 14 cannot be about terminology. While it was obvious that having part of the speaking be in languages not understood by anyone present was a source of confusion, the point was that the content of the meeting should be accessible to all. If you need a lexicon to access the content of the meeting, it is irrelevant whether the need is due to a foreign language being in use or specialized jargon that is not commonly understood, or the use of terms in a manner that is not in sync with their common usage. And if pride is taken in that specialized jargon, then there really is an immaturity (as you previously suggested) that places the participant's level of spirituality quite much lower than what they think about themselves.
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Old 04-17-2010, 10:42 AM   #12
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Default Re: Regarding "Terminology"

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So is it "why shouldn't we take pride in a better terminology" or " only because of some individuals’ immaturity"? Pick a side. If you think you can straddle on this one, I don't see it.
There's the obvious difference between having pride in something, in a way of doing something, and using that pride as a means of "lording it over" others. There is nothing at all wrong with taking pride in a method of using accurate terminology. Where the problem comes in, usually due to immaturity, is when someone uses the terminology to prop up their own ego or to belittle others.

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And in all you said in this context, it is clear that you missed the point. It was that getting the terminology right is so important that altering many of the words of a song so that "Spirit" can be inserted in the place of "Ghost." It made the singing too distracting and almost humorous to be of any value in worship. No. the LC does not "own" the term "Holy Spirit." I did not in any way suggest that it did.
Okay. so then, so what? If you found it humorous or distracting that's really a "you issue." I just don't see the point of it being inherently harmful or divisive. Was it inherently harmful or divisive when the various groups started using modern language in Bible translation rather than King James?

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To the extent that any group uses its terminology as a basis of pride, I agree that it is not a uniquely LC issue. But to the extent that they use the terminology to describe what they believe and simply feel that it does it well and yet have no intent of gloating over their position or terminology, then it is not what I was talking about.
I'm not following you now. Are you arguing that it's the intent of the LC leadership to create differing terminology with the goal of being apart from and taking a position of superiority to the rest of Christendom?


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I used this analogy in a different context. This goes beyond terminology to the core of the belief that is behind it, yet can be viewed as somewhat benign. Some believe that bread and wine become the actual body and blood of Christ. Others believe that Christ is "beneath" the elements. These two have differing terms for their belief. While there is a "take" on the Lord's table that I cannot recall, the fourth is that it is a sacrament ordained by Christ as a remembrance of His death. But no matter which of these you follow, if you ultimately remember, then what is the problem with the add-on beliefs (even if ultimately incorrect)? And what is the importance of the terminology? To stand and beat your chest and claim the most theologically correct position and terminology is to act as the Pharisee as he gloated that he was not like the publican.
Again I'm not following you. Maybe it's the fact that I've not interacted with this conversation for some time. The terminology is sometimes benign. I'm not saying that all the terminology the LC uses has some deeper meaning or points to a deeper truth. Sometimes it's simply a matter of choice by preference or it's tradition. The term "Lord's Table" was used by the Brethren denom. Perhaps our use of the term is derived from there by simple convenience, or perhaps Nee or Lee purposefully chose the term because they felt is was more pleasant. The word "Eucharist" means "thankful or grateful." The word "Communion" means "to share or participate mutually." To me the idea of partaking of the "Lord's Table" implies coming to enjoy a meal with the Lord. With this comes the ideas of sharing, of thankfulness, of mutual enjoyment, or appreciation of the Lord's grace and mercy in His death, in the celebration of his resurrection, of feasting upon Him as my source of life, etc.

What's the problem with the "add-on" beliefs? Are you saying that whether some believe that the bread and the wine are the actual blood and body of Christ and others believe that they are merely symbolic representations to be partaken only on certain occasions, it's inconsequential to the act? Is the act in and of itself, absent a true understanding, all that pleases God?

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I would agree that trying to direct people to correct belief is important. But terminology is not belief. It could color belief, or could mask true belief. But it does not do so because it is not the preferred terminology, but because the actual belief is incorrect.
Beliefs direct terminology, yes. But on the other hand terminology is integral to belief. The RCC (I hate to keep using them as my "whipping boy" but they have centuries of tradition and religious terminology, so they're the best example) uses the term "Sacraments" to describe a serious of rituals of which the faithful Catholic layperson must participate in order to attain eternal salvation. I would argue that the term is integral to both the belief and even the RC theology. Remove the term and the idea just could be that the sacraments are no longer important for salvation to the typical Catholic.
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Old 04-22-2010, 11:23 AM   #13
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Default Re: Regarding "Terminology"

I may come back to respond to more on this post, but the following will suffice for now. And, like you, I have not been involved here as much recently. I think I need to go look back at the older posts some more to get my bearings and context.
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Originally Posted by tasteslikegold View Post
I'm not following you now. Are you arguing that it's the intent of the LC leadership to create differing terminology with the goal of being apart from and taking a position of superiority to the rest of Christendom?
Actually, that is what I believe is happening in at least some of the cases. Let's take an example.

The word "religion" and it various forms have a basic meaning. "The service and worship of God" or "commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance." While there is plenty that can go wrong in that, "religion" is not, by definition, a negative thing. Yet that is how Lee and the LC treat it. For them, religion is simply man's attempt to please or reach God or something like that. And since it is "man's attempt" it is summarily dismissed as a definitional failure at its purpose because there is nothing that man can do in himself to please or reach God. So any reference to the word is taken as evidence of man's attempts and nothing of God. The word is entirely considered negative. It was one of the reasons that Lee thought so little of James — because he thought there was such a thing as "true religion."

But this is a redefinition of the word. When anyone outside of the LC says "religion," they are not automatically simply talking about man's unaided attempts to reach or serve God, but that is what is presumed to be happening. If I make a reference to a "religious service" what is your automatic thought about it? But it could be a reference to a meeting of dedicated, active, growing Christians that rivals the best that you ever think is going on in a LC meeting. But it is dismissed as negatively "religious" without a further thought.

That is what I am talking about when I speak of terminology. This kind of redefinition does nothing positive for you or anyone else. It only places a wedge between your group and everyone else. It's sort of like a bunch of kids who have learned that "blow" is sometimes used for something vulgar, then giggle every time the weatherman makes reference to how hard the wind is blowing. It is juvenile.
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Originally Posted by tasteslikegold View Post
What's the problem with the "add-on" beliefs? Are you saying that whether some believe that the bread and the wine are the actual blood and body of Christ and others believe that they are merely symbolic representations to be partaken only on certain occasions, it's inconsequential to the act? Is the act in and of itself, absent a true understanding, all that pleases God?
The problem with what you have said here is that you have ignored what I was actually talking about and created a different issue. I am starting with the presumption that we are talking about the actions of true Christians and not unbelievers who happen to show up and partake of "communion" anyway. I am noting that Christians are coming together in whatever way they do to partake of the remembrance that Jesus commanded. I am presuming that they understand the significance of the broken body and spilt blood symbolized by the "elements." But some have added "traditions" or even beliefs concerning the practice. I asked whether a mistaken "add-on" denies them the standing before God to partake of communion/the table. But you come back with "absent a true understanding." Does that mean you presume that the erroneous "add-on" (in your opinion, as well as mine) causes them to not understand and therefore not be truly partaking of communion?

What if the add-on is that the bread must start with a single piece of unleavened bread made with enriched white flour, and that it must be broken by two or more brothers (never sisters, unless that is all that are present, and then there is a question whether they should be holding the Lord's table), and then passed, person-to-person through the whole congregation. And it must occur during a meeting in which there are songs sung only a capella and according to a specified order of topics, beginning with worship of the Father.

What if someone does not do this? What if they decide to sing about the resurrection before the bread is even broken? What if they have a piano playing? What if they use little individual plastic cups for the wine or juice? Or have a bowl of juice in which the piece of bread you get is dipped?

Are any of these important to the actual remembrance of the work of Christ? Or is it that you partake of the break and wine/juice as you remember Christ and show, symbolically, his death.
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Old 05-14-2010, 02:22 PM   #14
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The word "religion" and it various forms have a basic meaning. "The service and worship of God" or "commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance." While there is plenty that can go wrong in that, "religion" is not, by definition, a negative thing. Yet that is how Lee and the LC treat it. For them, religion is simply man's attempt to please or reach God or something like that. And since it is "man's attempt" it is summarily dismissed as a definitional failure at its purpose because there is nothing that man can do in himself to please or reach God. So any reference to the word is taken as evidence of man's attempts and nothing of God. The word is entirely considered negative. It was one of the reasons that Lee thought so little of James — because he thought there was such a thing as "true religion."

Setting aside for a moment the issue of James (And I don't entirely agree with Lee's assessment of James' epistle), religion, is, in its most essential factor initiated by man. I'm sure we could find a number of objective/subjective definitions of religion, as it's been defined and re-defined throughout the ages, but for the most part all definitions agree: It is essentially man's outward desire to please God as a response to faith. Now, the Roman Church typically has viewed religion as a positive thing, due to the fact that outward observances are emphasized for the sake of the laity. Theologians of the Roman era often used the term interchangeably with "faith." Therefore, "religion" was a the most pure exercise of one's faith. God was said to be pleased with the practices of the faithful Roman who carried out the exercise of their faith in the keeping of, and participation in, the Holy Church's sacraments (by definition, "a religious rite"). The same exists today, in fact, and millions of the Roman Catholic faithful are held in bondage to set of doctrines and religious rites which are far removed from anything resembling the exercise of pure and unadulterated faith in God. Sounds harsh, I know, but few Protestants would disagree with that.


On the other hand, in Protestantism, during the Reformation (and onward) those essential ideals were not lost. Yes, the Protestants were freed from the religious rituals which kept them afar from God and shadowed in ignorance, but they were replaced with another set of dogmas, rituals, etc. These were ever-changing throughout church history, by the increasing effort to avoid the chains of "religion." In fact, constant resurgences of the Reformation throughout the ages have sought to, on the one hand dispense with the dead religious practices of the former ages, and on the other hand to "revive" the church into a new age of genuine faith, and a genuine relationship with our true husband, Christ. Just examine, for example, the Pentecostal and charismatic movements in the United States in the past 300 years or so and you'll see that. Consistently, over and over in these movements, it is "religion" that is sought to be dispensed with , and "faith: that is sought to be emphasized (and, on the negative side it must be pointed out, re-defined).

So the Local Church is really no different than any other group or movement which has defined religion as something as only negative and to be avoided, and which has tried to bring a deeper understanding of "pure faith" into the mainstream of Christendom. This is a common thread in the writings of most of the reformers - even the modern era reformers. In fact, if you take the LC's view of history into consideration, it has always been a part of that minor aspect of Christendom which has attempted to challenge the popular religious dogmas of various eras in church history.

Quote:
But this is a redefinition of the word. When anyone outside of the LC says "religion," they are not automatically simply talking about man's unaided attempts to reach or serve God, but that is what is presumed to be happening. If I make a reference to a "religious service" what is your automatic thought about it? But it could be a reference to a meeting of dedicated, active, growing Christians that rivals the best that you ever think is going on in a LC meeting. But it is dismissed as negatively "religious" without a further thought.
I don't think so. You can't make an assumption concerning the general consensus of the average LC follower. That's a crucial error in judgment. The term "religious service" may mean one thing to a certain LC and then quite something different to another. It depends upon which aspect of Christendom (which denomination) the respective LC member has come out from. For example, if one happened to have come from a free group like Calvary Chapel or the Vineyard, the term 'religious service" would mean something very different than one who had come from a Methodist or Lutheran denomination. One might take the term more lightly than the other. So you can't generalize there.

More to follow. I've run out of time for today. Next response will be to the paragraph staring with "That is what I am talking about when I speak of terminology..."
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Old 05-21-2010, 11:23 AM   #15
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Default Re: Christ and the church is the Kingdom (semi-private discussion)

Finally getting back to my "2/2"...

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The problem with what you have said here is that you have ignored what I was actually talking about and created a different issue.
Actually just there I was asking for clarification of your point.

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I am starting with the presumption that we are talking about the actions of true Christians and not unbelievers who happen to show up and partake of "communion" anyway. I am noting that Christians are coming together in whatever way they do to partake of the remembrance that Jesus commanded. I am presuming that they understand the significance of the broken body and spilt blood symbolized by the "elements." But some have added "traditions" or even beliefs concerning the practice. I asked whether a mistaken "add-on" denies them the standing before God to partake of communion/the table. But you come back with "absent a true understanding." Does that mean you presume that the erroneous "add-on" (in your opinion, as well as mine) causes them to not understand and therefore not be truly partaking of communion?
I'm saying that can definitely be true. In many cases where the significance of partaking of the table (particularly in some denoms where it is partaken of by younger adults or even children) is lost for the sake of the tradition, and even "church culture." I was asking whether in God's eyes the importance of the observation is greater than that of the rituals involved, or indeed, of the proper understanding of the table. If, to God, the rituals or add-on beliefs are insignificant then there's no problem with any form of the table. If the understanding is insignificant to God then God merely delights in act of obedience and nothing more.

I think you agree with me that a proper understanding of the table's significance is paramount. So "add-on" beliefs and rituals only really serve to cloud the true significance of the table, in my opinion. I remember when I was younger and just learning how to paint with oil paints. The best help I got when composing a picture was "don't over-work it. Don't put so much on the canvas that one loses the intent of the picture." I think the same is true of these add-on beliefs and rituals. Sure the original intent of those beliefs and rituals were to increase the appreciation of the table, to heighten the enjoyment of the table, but eventually they got so far "painted" that the appreciation of the reality of what the table signifies was lost in the din of religion (there's that word again).

I know that in some denominations the table is partaken of only once a month, or even once or twice yearly. I think the reasoning lies with the desire to cause the church to appreciate the gravity of the table. On the other hand it may even diminish the appreciation of the table, and it's certainly not what the Lord had in mind when he said, "do this often..." So is this a kind of forsaking the gathering together of the saints? For some it could be. This could be a factor of division, in fact; when some saints would want to gather together with the church to take the Lord's table more often and their traditional denomination only does it once or twice yearly.

I think we began this aspect of our discussion when talking about terminology. It seems to me that the issue was one of pride. You argued that the LC takes unreasonable pride in the way it conducts the Lord's Table. Well, personally I don't see it. I can only comment on what I have seen personally, and I can only testify to my own experience of it. In my case, I want a real relational experience of the Lord's Table, and I don't get that when a lot of "utensils," and extraneous rituals are involved. I would much rather focus on the appreciation and enjoyment of the Lord Himself than worry about whether I'm chewing the wafer or letting it dissolve in my mouth; I would rather not worry about whether the Table is being "administered properly" by a member of the clergy.
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Old 05-21-2010, 01:02 PM   #16
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Default Re: Christ and the church is the Kingdom (semi-private discussion)

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I know that in some denominations the table is partaken of only once a month, or even once or twice yearly. I think the reasoning lies with the desire to cause the church to appreciate the gravity of the table. On the other hand it may even diminish the appreciation of the table, and it's certainly not what the Lord had in mind when he said, "do this often..." So is this a kind of forsaking the gathering together of the saints? For some it could be. This could be a factor of division, in fact; when some saints would want to gather together with the church to take the Lord's table more often and their traditional denomination only does it once or twice yearly.
For the most part, the particular post gets into issues that I will need to decipher whether there is anything I consider worthy of comment. But this one paragraph is interesting. Not so much to disagree about, but to consider all the ramifications.

The “institution” of communion, or the Lord’s Table, or whatever anyone wants to call it, is quite simple. Jesus and the disciples were having a Passover meal, and in the process, Jesus made two specific alterations that were effectively the only parts of the meal mentioned. Then he said they should do it as often as they do it in remembrance of Him.

How would a bunch of Jewish men understand that? I can think of at least two in general. He could first have intended that the entirety of the Passover meal was to be recognized as signifying his death. That would make their first consideration a once-a-year event.

But Jesus didn’t say to remember Him when they had the Passover. He said to do it as often as they did it. No quantification. Only that it was to be for the purpose of remembering Him. And while the entire evening’s meal was not chronicled, was is only the two specific items that constituted the observance? Probably so. And nothing required the arduous preparation for that observance like would have been required for a true Passover meal.

So the observance is open. Our church is actually considering this very thing. And there are reasons for retaining our once-a-month practice in favor of a more frequent observance. Some of those reasons are similar to ones you raise.

My initial preference is to retain the current practice. My reasons relate to the nature of our assembly and meetings. We are a large congregation that requires three meetings each Sunday to accommodate everyone. When doing that, there is not the way to have a separate meeting for the purpose of communion that is generally accessible to all. So it must a portion of our normal time of worship. As part of a general change in the flow of our meetings, a length of time has been moved from the “worship” time to the end for the purpose of allowing people to consider and pray in line with the preaching of the Word that has just finished. When we have communion, that time for reflection and prayer is somewhat replaced by communion. I have actually suggested that moving a little more of the schedule to after the preaching of the Word would better accommodate both. But while the two can somewhat occur together, they have a different focus and while not in actual competition, one effectively “steals” from the other. Since communion should be focused on Jesus and his sacrifice, mixing it with the time when consideration of what has been taught seems inappropriate. But to skip that time of consideration would be a step back toward the days of getting ears tickled, saying benediction, and heading out to lunch (or wherever).

But to suggest that not having communion weekly could be considered neglecting the assembling together is a bit much. To further suggest that a change from monthly to weekly or visa versa could cause for division would also be too much. That is except with respect to people who are determined that their way is the only way and that all others are seriously deficient. And there are those people all over the place. And what about how the “elements” are done? We went from passing those trays with little cups and wafers to walking to a table where wafers were present and we dipped one in juice. I have never asked, but I often wonder how well the change from a single cup of wine passed around the meeting hall went over with everyone in the LC. It is a change and there are some who think that the process is more important than the remembrance.

BTW. I have continued to say that I do like the general format of the LC’s Lord’s Table, although I have a different take on it now than I used to have. Even that meeting is not simply “communion” or the “Lord’s Table.” It is not simply a focus on the sacrifice of Jesus. It is a rather complexly themed time of focused worship that moves through many stages, in the middle of which is a period that focuses on Jesus and His sacrifice. I have no complaint against that.

The one thing that has always bothered me, even during my time in the LC, is that it is a controlled time. I have on numerous occasions observed the calling of a song that is “out of sync” with the formula and it is quickly overridden by an elder or other leading one. For a group that is so thoroughly open in its meetings and so warned against anything that smacks of tradition, this is a huge tradition. The Spirit is presumed to be only following the same formula in all cases. The Spirit would never be in the calling of a song like “Out of the Depths I Cried to Thee” while in the “Praise to the Spirit” portion of the meeting. (Don’t get too wrapped up in the meaningfulness of the exact example.)

I will return to the general discussion of terminology soon. But I think that this discussion will crop up in that one, at least a little.
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Old 05-24-2010, 10:21 AM   #17
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Default Re: Regarding "Terminology"

I know that I picked on this particular statement once before. But there is something else here worth discussing.
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Originally Posted by tasteslikegold View Post
And why shouldn’t we take pride in a better terminology, especially if the employment of such terminology deepens our experiences of worship, and even Christ Himself? See, you believe that the employment of certain terminology is inherently divisive facilitates self-pride. But I would suggest that if such pride is taken it is only because of some individuals’ immaturity, not, as you suggest, that it is reinforced by the leadership.
The problem I see is in the first sentence. And I will begin with the question that really needs to be answered.

How does terminology deepen the experience of worship or of Christ?

If you say it is because in coming up with the terminology you come to realize something true about Christ, about worship, about the Christian life, etc., that you did not previously understand as true, then there is some argument for the terminology. But even in that case, it is not the terminology that is important, but the truth that you came to see.

And if the whole of the community of Christ followers would benefit from such a “truth,” then being descriptive and thorough in showing how it is scripturally true is much more important than simply providing terminology that has conflicting meanings. Oddly, this is often how the altered use of terminology has come to be in the LC. For example, when Lee brought us to use “religion” as a completely negative thing, he started by providing a definition that goes something like “man’s organized way to understand and follow God.” No other aspects of the word is accepted even though it has other meanings according to the dictionary. And since it is “man’s organized way” then it is further defined as being something that man is doing by his own effort and not that of Christ. That makes it a “works-based” thing and therefore completely to be dismissed by any “true Christian.”

It would seem that this is one of the things that is despised about the book of James. Since James made a reference to “true religion,” then within Lee’s theology, at least that portion of the letter was to be ignored as just about man’s works done in an attempt to please God.

[Before I move on to more general discussion of terminology, I should note that one of Lee’s core teachings is based on this very kind of over-focused use of a single definition for a word. That word is “economy” which has a rich meaning (and I am talking about the Greek word, not the English). But Lee dismissed most of the definitions, then took one aspect of one definition and said that was all it was about. Dispensing. Nowhere does scripture even imply such a simplistic definition. And using 1 Timothy 1 to arrive at the definition is over-the-top since besides being mentioned as the result of proper teachings, it is not defined. And the implication is that it is a broad term encompassing the whole of the Christian life both individually and in community.]

Now to the extent that there is an issue of man doing his own thing to try to please God, that is worthy of discussion. But when it is encapsulated in a single word that means much more than that one theological error, then to intentionally use that word exclusively in that one way is to introduce confusion into the discussion. So the public use of “new” terminology through the effective re-definition of an old word is of no value in any supposed discussion designed to persuade. It is, in effect, a logical error because the fullness of the word is effectively swept into the single definition that you would push.

And in terms of the deepening of the experience of worship and of Christ, I even doubt that is an important factor for the use of specialized terminology, especially revised meanings for existing words with alternate meanings. Why? Because it is not the terminology that enhances the worship. It is the truth/fact/reality (however you want to say it). So there is something a little disingenuous to encouraging the over-focused use of a word or phrase as a stand-in for what you think is an important point when it also reinforces that same focused meaning in all other uses of that word, including in the process of discussions with Christians that are not part of the LC.

Now I am not saying that you are intentionally trying to be obtuse when you use LC terminology with others. And I am not sure whether it was even intentional with Lee or with any of his “Blended” followers/replacements. But there is something missing when the terminology is provided and not the meaning behind the terminology. (I admit that I have the same problem when anybody throws out terms, acronyms, etc., that are not defined. It happens all around. Even in business.)

And it is the meaning that might enhance worship or the experience of Christ. It is not the terminology. So pride in terminology would seem to be seriously misplaced.

And if another goal is to eventually enhance the experience of all Christians, will it be through arguing terminology, or through showing truth? Terminology is not truth. If there is something of substance buried in the terminology, then that is what must be conveyed.
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