Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Wanderer for Wonderwhat (6)

(Parts 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17)

Like stairways to nowhere
The Wanderer took his Bible and shook it with the pages down, as though trying to shake something out of it. With a flip of his wrist, he tossed it on the table where he was sitting. He was frustrated. This had happened quickly. His journey into Scripture had begun with such high hopes. In his mind, he had imagined himself coming across whole passages that had been ignored or forgotten, like an ancient treasure trove, which held the keys to unlocking the mystery of what the church is supposed to be.
His first endeavor had been a huge disappointment. Pastors, so far in his journey, had been a particular source of difficulty for him, so it made sense to start with them. He’d find out what they were supposed to be doing, and why they were really there.
To his chagrin, he found them mentioned in only one verse, and there just in passing. But that wasn’t the only information lacking. There were no descriptions of meetings, apart from Paul’s corrections to the Corinthians, and even there, what was said was so unheard of he couldn’t connect it to a practical concept. There were no ministry descriptions at all, just lists of types of ministries, but no practical information about how they would operate. There was no indicator as to when the church should meet. No mention of children’s needs. No order of authority; could an apostle trump a bishop? It didn’t say.

“This is absurd!” the Wanderer said to his Bible. “I mean, the whole thing about Christianity is the establishing of the church on earth, and you don’t even describe what it looks like? The focal point for Christians around the world is the church, and you can’t devote even one chapter to a start-up guide or creating a checklist for the mandatory ingredients! That’s just stupid!”

He sat staring at his Bible as though waiting for a response.
It began to dawn on the Wanderer, that it this was an impossible task. He couldn’t pretend that he’d never heard of church, and go strictly to the Bible to find out what it is. The Bible provided the doctrines and the premise, but not a description of the thing itself.
This was bad news for his plan. There was no way to arrive at the concept of church without a historical reference point to start from. The church as he’d known it had it’s origin in the doctrines and premises of the Bible, but was now the product of it’s own history. There was no way of conceiving of the church apart from its story up to now.
He realized that he would have to approach this from a different tack. Instead of pretending he’d never heard of church and discovering what it looked like from the Bible, he would have to go the other way around. He would have to disassemble every aspect of church as he had known it, and drag it all, piece by piece to the Bible and see if it had merit, based on the original intent and premise of the church.
His wife’s warning that it sounded like a lot of work came back to him.
He sighed, looked at his Bible and asked, “So where do I begin?”


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