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Thursday, November 12, 2015

What is the Church? - Part 3

There are about four ways that the word "church" gets used by most people.  Each meaning adds to our understanding.   Last week, we looked at the building.  This week, our focus turns to doctrine and denomination.

  "What does your church teach and believe?"  What does the church down the street believe about ...the King James Version... or....the Holy  Spirit.....or Same Sex Marriage?"      ~ OR~  "I grew up a ____Baptist/Catholic/Lutheran/Methodist ___ and we believe....."

I hear these kinds of questions on a regular basis. In this case, people are asking the position the local believers have taken on issues: theological concerns, social issues, or even church stylistic preferences.

Every local body is bound by time and space.  We exist within a social culture, and our understanding of scripture is limited.  There are even moments when Christians experience honest disagreement about the meaning of scriptural passages,  the application of Biblical concepts, or the organizational structure of a local church.  The alignment with a organization broadens the base of knowledge, and lends stability to a movement.

The word denomination is falling out of vogue with many, instead turning to similar descriptive terms  (yes, there are technical and practical differences...but they are similar)  such as fellowship, network, or association.  Some structures have strict hierarchies, others and independence building into their cooperative and voluntary association agreements.   .

It makes sense that like minded people will band together in some sort of a structure.  And further, that with genuine, studied, and heart felt beliefs, those who gather within a theological, missional, and organizational structure as those who join to adopt that same set of shared values.

This church is an Assemblies of God church, and works within that understanding.  (See other posts).  Behold how good and how pleasant it is, when people live together in unity. - PS 133:1

One more thing - Isn't it great when believers of many stripes come together?!