BUFF SCOTT, JR.
Comparing Today With Yesterday
I get quite a few letters from my Reformation Rumblings
readers and, on occasion, I receive one that highly attracts my attention. The following one is such a letter. I want to share it with you. “In a recent message you spoke of the early believers meeting in private homes and similar places, and that the meetings were mutually inclusive, involving anyone who might wish to share or express himself. If believers adopted such meetings today, would there not be ‘voices of ignorance’ trying to teach one another, as well as a diversity of opinions? Would there not be more confusion than order?”
Let us try to understand that in such meetings varied opinions would not
be discouraged, as diversity yields growth. No one, however, would be coerced into conforming to someone else’s conception or interpretation of truth. Although everyone would be urged to look for pearls, a few would find lesser stones. Those few would not be rejected.
As to “voices of ignorance” trying to teach one another, we must not forget that the early believers practiced the method I am here describing, and we don’t refer to them as “voices of ignorance.” Their family circles and family discussions brought out the best in each of them. The least effective method of communication is pulpit preaching and lecturing.
The most effective
method of communication is mutual dialogue.
There should be a mutual exchange of ideas by as many who might wish to participate, both male and female. Participation would not be compulsory, but everyone would be encouraged to get involved, for “group therapy” or mutual ministry would be the crux of each meeting. Someone with the gift of leadership would lead each session, preferably older and experienced elders or shepherds. “But how do you manage order in a setting where everyone is encouraged to participate?”
is often asked. A good leader will maintain order, very much like an earthly father maintains order in a family discussion. Disorder was prevalent in the meetings at Corinth [I Cor. 14].
Everybody was trying to speak at the same time. Paul told them to speak “one at a time” [v. 27].
Then he told them that “everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way” [v. 40].
It is noteworthy that the “pulpit minister” or “pulpit pastor” isn’t even mentioned or referred to. Where was he?
Wasn’t he supposed to be the center of attraction and the core of attention? He wasn’t there. His office was invented centuries later, thus forming the first major cancer in the body of believers.
As to where the early believers met to edify and strengthen each other, I have never indicated it is wrong to meet in some structure. Renting a room in some pubic facility once or twice a week is a good idea. I’ve “been there, done that.” I once met with my congregational fellows in a barn on a farm. Occasionally, some of the early believers met by the river side and others in an upper room, such as Acts 20:7-8. The scriptures below will at least give us an idea where the most common meeting place was. 1] “Greet also the congregation in their house” [Rom. 16:5].
2] “Aquila and Prisca, together with the congregation in their house, send you hearty greetings in the Lord” [I Cor. 16:19].
3] “Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the congregation in her house” [Col. 4:15].
4] “To Philemon our beloved fellow worker and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the congregation in your house” [Phil. 1-2].
Looking at the current modern-day scene, we have built fancy, expensive temples made by man’s hands, although God “does not live in temples made by man’s hands” [Acts 17:24-25]. “We ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man” [v. 24].
The only temple God approves is our body, as the Apostle Paul said, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?” [I Cor. 6:19].
Also, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” [3:16].
Please see also Eph. 2:21-22.