Ecclesiology

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Ruiz, May 29, 2011.

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  1. Ruiz

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    I am doing a 9 part series on ecclesiology beginning next week. Here are two famous quotes that I wondered what others thought and if they agreed:

    Another quote

    For the record, I find a myriad of people throughout history with similar quotes or agreement with these who are not Catholic, thus they have a different viewpoint than Catholics. Yet, they still hold these to be true.

    My questions:

    Do you agree with these quotes?
    Why or why not?
     
  2. preachinjesus

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    I like Cyprian.

    However, I'd suggest you're gonna have to parse your terms very carefully to avoid confusion. IMHO, Cyprian is speaking about the Roman chruch

    If you said this in a church I attended, we'd need some claification. Of course not all your parishioners have a PhD in historical theology. ;)
     
  3. TCGreek

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    Ah, just heard the Latin version of the first yesterday, while watching Luther (2000 version).

    Yeah, Cyrian had Rome in mind.

    Salvation is in Christ. Period. But we'll find that he puts us in his body, the church, of which he is her Savior.
     
  4. Ruiz

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    According to Dr. Greg Allison (SBTS Prof) in his book "Historical Theology: An Introduction", the concept that this was dealing with the exclusivity of the Roman Catholic Church developed much later and was not in mind when Cyprian made his statements. Remember, Cyprian died in 258, well before the concept of Rome had developed.

    Few theologians, both Protestants and Catholics, have challenged this concept. While the Catholics would reinterpret his meaning, Cyprian only voiced a solid theology based upon exegesis.

    I think the two quotes, by two different men, are true. Both seemed to be based upon clear exegesis that without the church, you are not saved. This does not mean that the church saves, as only Christ alone saves. However, a saved person must normatively be within the church and brought up by her nurturing.

    A person not in the church, is most likely not a Christian. We were saved into the church and a key fruit of salvation is loving the brethren, uniting together, devoting together in prayer, the Lord's Supper, fellowship, etc... This demands the church.

    Augustine seems to point to the same thing in the "City of God." The City of God is physically manifested within the church, and without the church there is no salvation.

    Calvin noted the same thing (he made the second quote) that the individualistic idea that we can be saved apart from the church is foreign in the Bible. If God is our father, the church must be our mother.

    Biblically, we are saved into the church, not independent from the church.Without the Church, there is no salvation.
     
  5. Tom Butler

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    I think we have to be careful here, because it will be easy to be misunderstood,

    If you are one who holds to The Universal Church, then you know what you mean when you say one is saved into the Church. That's because you believe that the Church is the universal body of believers, and one is placed there by the Holy Spirit. That would make "no salvation outside the church" make sense.

    If, on the other hand, you believe that there is no Church, only churches, and that the door to the church is believer's baptism, you mean something else entirely. You believe that salvation places you in the Kingdom,and water baptism into the local Church. This view also allows for one to be saved, but not in a local congregation.

    But even then, one must be careful not to give the impression that a believer may ignore fellowship with a congregation and be pleasing to God. The Scripture clearly says Jesus died for his churches, purchased them with his own blood; and to not give a proper place for such churches would be disobedience to God.

    In addition, Jesus gave the Great Commission to the church he established, and to its successors. Local churches send missionaries (such as Paul and Silas); local churches witness to the gospel (like Steven and Philip); local churches point men and women to Christ; local churches baptize; local churches fellowship; local churches study the Word.

    So there is a sense in which churches are inseparably connected to the salvation of souls. But we need to make clear which view of the church we hold.
     
  6. Jerome

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    Salvation is a prerequisite for church membership, not the other way around!
     
  7. Earth Wind and Fire

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    Then which viewpoint is correct?
     
  8. Ruiz

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    Salvation implants you into the Church, but historically those not in the church are not saved. Rather, if you are saved, then you are Baptized and included into the church.

    You see, we are saved for one thing, the building up of the Church (Matthew 16:18-19). So much so, that Christ said he came to die for the Church and his focus was on her expansion.

    In Matthew 18, a sign a person was not a Christian was they were outside of the church.

    In summary and through history of a myriad of theologians, you cannot be assured of salvation while outside the church. Here are several reasons:

    1. Christ came to build up the church... we were saved for that purpose.
    2. We were commanded to love the Church... to not be a part of the church violates that command
    3. We were called to devote ourselves to certain elements together within the church.
    4. Never in the New Testament do we see believers apart from the church.

    Thus, normatively and historically, to say we can live apart from the local church and be a Christian is an anomaly. While salvation is before church membership, it is naturally necessary for a Christian to become a part of the local body of believers. If you are not a part of a local body, in general, you should not call yourself a Christian.
     
  9. Ruiz

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    I am not sure what you are conveying. WHile I believe in a Universal Church, my viewpoint is quite simple. If you are not a part of the local church you should not call yourself a Christian. Normatively, we are called into a local body of believers. Non-Christians were outside the covenant community and those inside the covenant community were Christians. As a result, to agree with history, there is no salvation apart from the church because you are saved to be a part of the Church. While church membership does not save you, salvation will necessarily bring you into a relationship with the church.
     
  10. Tom Butler

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    Why, the one I hold, of course.

    Sorry, couldn't resist.

    I hold that the Bible mainly speaks of the local church. There sense in "church" is used in a generic sense. This is similar to the use of the word "family." But, just as family expresses itself as a real, live, specific family, so does church take concrete expression in real congregations. Only local churches are equipped to carry out the Great Commission.

    The church is also spoken of in the prospective sense. It takes concrete expression as the great General Assembly in heaven, when there will be only one church. That's because all will know the truth then.

    And all will be Baptists.

    Sorry, couldn't resist that, either.
     
  11. Tom Butler

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    I know what you're getting at, but I'm reluctant to say it the way you do.

    For instance, I can't bring myself to say that there is no salvation apart from the church. You've explained why you say this, and I get it. There just has to be a better and clearer way of putting it. Otherwise, we'll sound just like the Roman Catholics, who do indeed hold that there is no salvation outside the RCC. And, that if you are not a RC, you are lost.

    I do concur that a new believer will want to be obedient and be baptized, and be further obedient by becoming involved in the life of the local church. A professing believer who wants nothing to do with a church raises doubt whether he has truly been converted.
     
  12. Ruiz

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    When reading and studying history, I do not think there has been a problem with the saying even in light of Roman Catholicism. The Church has the keys to the kingdom (Matthew 16:18-20), not in a catholic manner where they grant salvation.

    I believe the reason this has not been a major controversy in history is because normally CHristianity has not been hyper individualistic as the American culture has been for the last 200 years. People naturally saw the covenant community, the church, the place for Christians. TO them, it was not about individuals as much as the community. Today, we have gone the other extreme to rely upon hyper-individualism where everything is "me" focused, and not community focused.

    God is church focused. Not that he does not deal with us individually, but that the centrality of His work on earth centers on the church.

    Let me add one more thing to another post, the rejection of the Universal Church is not an embrace of Baptist Theology. Rather, Baptists have overwhelmingly embraced the Universal Church until fairly recently in history. To be a consistent Baptist who embraces the historic Baptist beliefs means you will embrace the universal church theology.
     
    #12 Ruiz, May 31, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: May 31, 2011
  13. Bro. James

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    Embracing the Universal Church Conundrum

    According to the majority of christendom: the church is universal--visible(holy see dogma); or invisible (protestant reformation dogma).

    However, there are some, who, in every generation since Acts 2 have proclaimed that the ecclesia (the called out for a purpose) is local, local, local. To use the term local church, somehow implies that there is some other kind. Most of the "some" who are "locals only" were never part of Rome nor her daughters. Of course this caused no small amount of consternation among the religious powers that be--some of whom have controlled government, yea, the known world. Some are still in control of governments.

    Many of the people who landed in the U.S. of A. were fleeing religious persecution--they were in the wrong church. Freedom to worship according to the dictates of one's conscience is not popular with state religions, never has been. Millions have died, refusing to baptize their infants.

    Universal church is an error which showed up early. It was promulgated and enforced in the 4th century by the czars of Rome and the pontifex maximus'. This error is part of the salvation by works error; i.e. one must be baptized to be saved, and one must join the church to be saved. Man still thinks he can work his way to heaven.

    If there is such a thing a universal church, it has never assembled; never carried out the Lord's commission, never disciplined its members...

    "For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast..." Eph. 2:8,9. This is true in the New Covenant and the Old Covenant.

    Now what?

    Even so, come Lord Jesus,

    Peace,

    Bro. James
     
  14. HankD

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    The scripture does not speak of a "universal" or "invisible" church as such.

    There is the following however:

    Hebrews 12
    22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
    23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
    24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.

    There is a church (church of the firstborn) with the members names having been written in heaven.​

    HankD​
     
  15. Tom Butler

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    On top of that, Brother James, it is hopelessly divided and riddled with error. It is a useless entity. It has no defined function except to exist.

    And you're right, it has never disciplined its members because it can't. You can't kick somebody out of the Universal Church. You're stuck with them.
     
  16. Jerome

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    As I suspected, it is found in the Presbyterians' Westminster Confession (thus explaining why the OP is so attached to this mantra):

    II. The visible Church, which is also catholic or universal under the Gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion; and of their children: and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.

    You would do well to follow the Baptists who ditched that verbiage in their Westminster-based London Baptist Confession of 1689.
     
  17. JesusFan

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    salvation is NOT found in ANY Church organization, it is found in person of Jesus Christ, in a saving personal relationship with Him...

    One can be saved by being in Christ and NEVER attend ANY Church, nor be a formal member, not baptised etc

    Not recommended, as we need to be active baptised members of local Church, but still shows that Jesus is ONLY saviour, through faith in Christ alone, via faith alone!
     
  18. preachinjesus

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    So, I guess we see the problem with using Cyprian's quote to begin a conversation on ecclesiology.
     
  19. Ruiz

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    James,

    I would be glad to continue the Universal Church in another thread. Historically, from early on in Christianity, the church was defined as universal and local. I not only believe in a universal church, I believe it was taught in the Bible and theologians for the vast majority of history have ascribed to it. Only in recent history have some denied it.
     
  20. Ruiz

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    Jerome,

    There is no Biblical argument above. Yet, you have not explained Matthew 16, where the church was given the keys to the kingdom. Without the church, there is no salvation. The church holds the keys. Yes, we must believe in Jesus for justification, but we will normatively belong to the church once saved. This doctrine has been held by the majority of Christianity since it's founding. Americans seemed to fixated on individualism to either not understand it or naturally despising it.
     
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