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The Method of the Early Church

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Aaron, Nov 28, 2002.

  1. All about Grace

    All about Grace New Member

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    While this is not a discussion on the legitimacy of certain missionary methods, I will simply argue that every missionary employs some type of method to communicate the gospel. Even learning a foreign language is a method of adaption to communicate to a people group in their native tongue.

    Furthermore the moment a missionary/preacher/teacher/etc. proclaims a message, they are bringing a certain interpretation to the text. You argue against the Jesus film for faulty interpretation based upon your own interpretation. The circle is vicious but necessary. That is why consistency is so difficult for those who want to argue against methodologies of any sort. First, because communication of the gospel is impossible without some type of method (even a selected preaching preference is a method -- expository preaching is a method in itself). Second, because my view of what is appropriate and inappropriate is controlled by my own interpretation (which again is dictated by a certain methodological approach to understanding).

    What you label as "exhibitionistic" is solely based upon your own opinion and interpretation (which is grounded in your own methodology). Methodologies are not considered a part of the fundamentals for a reason, viz., they are not absolute to the faith.

    We have no way of knowing if these missionaries you have mentioned would or would not have utilized a method such as the Jesus film. What we do know is that they employed certain methods (even as basic as learning the native language) to communicate the message effectively.

    In a similar fashion, many who are ministering in our Western culture are attempting to "speak the language" of our society by employing culturally relevant methods and means. This is a common, necessary, and biblical practice. You have the right to draw the lines where you chose on what you deem is appropriate or not. But you do not have the right to dogmatically draw it for others. If the essential message of the gospel itself is not being compromised, methods become a matter of choice and preference.

    You have yet to answer previous questions regarding whether the NT church model is primarily descriptive or prescriptive and regarding the full definition of "method".
     
  2. Aaron

    Aaron Member
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    Furthermore the moment a missionary/preacher/teacher/etc. proclaims a message, they are bringing a certain interpretation to the text. You argue against the Jesus film for faulty interpretation based upon your own interpretation.

    Incorrect. The actor portrayed Christ laughing in many contexts in which there is no record of Christ laughing. That is significant since the Evangelists were careful to point out more than one occassion in which Christ wept.

    Whether Christ laughed in a certain place or not is up to the actor's arbitrary assumption. All actors bring more to their impersonations than what is in the script. The must draw on their own experiences and emotions in order to present a "believable" character. (My major is in Theatre Arts.)

    That's fine in almost any other context, but when impersonating Christ it is impossible, not because of interpretations, but because of the nature of the method. The Scriptures tell us the temple guards could not arrest Jesus because never a man spake as this man. When the mob went to arrest Him in the Garden, they asked for Jesus. He said, "I am he," and they all fell backward.

    I can tell someone these things without imposing my own interpretations upon them, but the moment I attempt, vainly, to impersonate Christ (as opposed to emulating Him), suddenly your impression of the subject is dictated by my presentation.

    I can say, "Christ is sinless," and a completely different idea of sinlesses enters your mind than what I have pictured in mine. I can say, "Christ said," and repeat His words, and still not dictate to your mind the inflections and dynamics that He used when speaking the same words.

    But the moment I use Theatre to impersonate Christ, you can't help but in your mind think that this is how Christ moved and thought. And if I'm wrong, and most assuredly no actor can truly impersonate Christ, then I become a liar.

    So it has nothing to do with my interpretation of what Christ may have done or not done, that I reject the Jesus Film, but it has to do with the nature of the method.

    BTW, the revisionist history in the film doesn't bother you?

    I can use God's chosen method, preaching, because I am assured of His power behind it. I know that it's not how I say something, or how dazzling to the ear it may be, but the Spirit that quickens the Word in the heart of the hearer. I am assured of the power of God in His chosen method.

    With the film, you only have spectacle.

    That is why consistency is so difficult for those who want to argue against methodologies of any sort.

    Yes, consistency is difficult for those who arge agains methods "of any sort," but none of them so far have joined in this converstion. I don't argue against "methods of any sort," I argue against unhallowed methods. But you cannot delineate between hallowed and unhallowed methods. You say, "preaching is a method, therefore all methods are hallowed." A non-sequitur of the grossest proportions.

    I say, (and St. Paul agrees) "Preaching is the chosen method."
     
  3. All about Grace

    All about Grace New Member

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    If I follow your logic, anything that is said while preaching that may lead the listener to capture a picture in his/her mind outside of the actual facts of the event makes the communicator a liar. Yet in reality, we all build word pictures in our minds even with the simple reading of the text. Recapturing the vivid details of a historical event is impossible (whether through word or cinema). Following such logic means that any method that calls for interpretation (whether it be preaching or film) should be avoided. Do you have a manger scene in your church or home? Does your church perform Christmas or Easter pageants? If so, stop them immediately. You might lead someone astray as to the actual facts, making you a liar.

    This discussion is not primarily about the proper or improper use of cinematic methods. It is about methods in general. Your logic for excluding film (and/or drama I presume) from the "hallow" method category is based upon your own preference and not biblical evidence.

    I have never suggested the film is inerrant. I have simply said it is a method that has been used to communicate the essentials of the gospel and God has used it to draw people to Himself and establish churches in parts of the world where otherwise the task would be virtually impossible.

    You build your arguments upon a faulty premise, viz., that preaching is the only God-ordained method of communicating the gospel.

    Until you provide scriptural evidence that preaching is the only method God has ordained for communicating His message, your arguments cannot stand.

    Once again I return to a question that is foundational to this discussion yet which you have refused to answer: Is the NT model descriptive or prescriptive?
     
  4. Daniel David

    Daniel David New Member

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    quote:
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Originally posted by SBCbyGRACE:
    Until you provide scriptural evidence that preaching is the only method God has ordained for communicating His message, your arguments cannot stand.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Perhaps I misunderstand what this is supposed to ask, but I offer 1 Cor. 1:18-21 & Romans 10:14-17 as proof. Those verses are sufficient unless you buy into some form of christianized astrology, as some on here do.

    (sorry, my wife was logged on)

    [ December 18, 2002, 10:46 AM: Message edited by: PreachtheWord ]
     
  5. All about Grace

    All about Grace New Member

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    Neither of these texts suggest that preaching (however one might define that term) is the exclusive means of presenting the gospel and that all other methods are illegitimate.

    Without going into great detail regarding "kerrysso" and "euangelion", it is safe to say that neither term designates a singular method of proclamation that excludes all other forms of gospel presentation.

    The contextual emphasis in both of these texts centers primarily upon the message and not the method. In other words Paul does not seem to be laying out a prescribed, "this is the only hallow method", argument for a certain type of preaching to the exclusion of all other methods.

    Try again.
     
  6. Molly

    Molly New Member

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    2 Timothy 3:16-17

    "All scripture is inspired by God,and is profitable for doctrine,for reproof,for correction,for instruction in righteousness,that the man of God may be complete,thoroughly equipped for every good work."

    It goes on into Ch.4

    "I charge you,therefore, before God and the Lord Jesus Christ,who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom:pREACH THE WORD! Be ready in and out of season. Convince,rebuke,exhort,with all long suffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine but according to their OWN desires,because they have itching ears,they will heap up for themselves teachers;and they will turn their ears from the Truth,and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things,endure afflictions,do the workl of an evangelist,fulfill your ministry."

    These are pretty strong words from Paul and ones all leaders should adhere to and take very seriously. "The faithful preacher must proclaim the Word when it is popular and when it is not."John Mac's study bible. He goes on to say,about these verses..."The dictates of popular culture,tradition,reputation,acceptance,or esteem in the community or in the church must never alter the true preacher's commitment to proclaim God's word.

    This is the mandate....

    SBC,where are you coming from with these kind of things you say...you say you are committed to the word,but you state such things that I have to question where you really are on these very important issues facing the church today...

    Your dear friend,

    Molly [​IMG]

    [ December 18, 2002, 02:29 PM: Message edited by: Molly ]
     
  7. Molly

    Molly New Member

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    These verses are the same ones that also convince me that our former discussion on Rick W was useless because I do not see him holding to this philosophy of preaching the Word,he is giving his audience what they want,not what they need...itching ears....

    But,that's another long lost thread....
     
  8. All about Grace

    All about Grace New Member

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    I agree with Paul (and MacArthur) 100% :D

    No one is suggesting preaching should be eliminated as the primary method of proclamation. Preaching is central.

    What we are discussing is whether other methods can also be employed to aid in the sharing of the gospel and if so (which is a given), which methods are legitimate. I maintain that culturally relevant methods are usuable as long as the message is not altered or compromised. Others seem to argue that methods are illegitimate unless they are prescribed in the Bible (thus the unanswered description vs prescription question).

    My question then becomes, which methods of preaching are hallow and which are not? And what methods may a preacher include within his message that are legitimate? Can we use illustrations, statistics, PowerPoint, extra-biblical stories, etc.? Again, consistency demands answers to these questions.

    We will not even delve into the original use of the words translated "preach" in the NT and whether or not they are prescribing a singular method of proclamation. Study it for yourself.

    Have no fear Molly. I can be as committed to the Word as you are without believing exactly as you believe on the non-essentials. ;)
     
  9. All about Grace

    All about Grace New Member

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    I would say giving them the gospel is giving them what they need [​IMG]

    I am assuming you have listened to a great number of Warren's sermons in order to make this accusation. If not ... :rolleyes:
     
  10. Molly

    Molly New Member

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    I believe that preaching is the prescribed method taught in scripture. People make like movies to expound on scripture,they may like heart felt stories,they may like dramas,poetry and feel good sermons...but Paul mandates that you guys should preach the Word. So,I am for that.
     
  11. All about Grace

    All about Grace New Member

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    What type of preaching? What should be included and what should be left out? Whose preference of method should be employed (expository, topical, textual, etc.)? Do you think Paul was prescribing a single method of preaching? If so, which one? Does the word "preach" in this verse mean preaching as we know it today?

    Just a few questions that must be considered in light of your oversimplified blanket statements :rolleyes:
     
  12. Daniel David

    Daniel David New Member

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    1. That is the point in 1 Cor. 1:18-21. The Jews look for a sign (something seen, usually a miracle, but nonetheless, a visual stimulant). The Greeks look for (human) wisdom.

    Paul fell for neither and stuck to his guns.

    Btw, you are merely arguing from silence by saying that Paul did not exclude everything else. Paul did not say that you couldn't preach with a gun pointed at your audience either. I suppose that might be a good method for converts. :rolleyes:

    2. The 1 Cor. 1 passage is clear. The greek word translated "message preached (NKJV)" refers to both the method and substance. So, it is God's ordained METHOD of bringing the gospel to people that they might believe.

    3. I can't believe you said this. This is so simple SBC. Both passages affirm exactly what you deny.

    Consider the following:

    CC is a carnal corinthian. Paul is Paul. :D

    CC: Paul, the Jews seek a sign and the greeks seek wisdom, what do you have to say about meeting them where they are?

    Paul: It pleased God by the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

    CC: Paul, are you sure that is the best method? I mean, how is it people will believe in whom they have not heard?

    Paul: Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the (spoken) word of God.

    CC: Paul, you are an educated man. You have seen most of the known world. You know culture as well as anyone. If anyone is qualified to speak to the issue of reaching people, it is you. Given the modern times, how would you instruct young preachers to teach God's truth?

    Btw, did you catch that performance of the Corinthian Drama Club about the death and resurrection of Christ?

    Paul: Preach the word. Be ready in season and out of season.

    Btw, no I didn't. Let me ask you something. Why do you think the gospel is entertainment? Preaching is worship, not a good time.

    CC: Paul, what does it mean to be in season and out of season?

    Also, don't you know that people want to hear things when they are comfortable and that won't rub them wrong?

    Paul: There are only two times to preach, in season and out of season. You are either in or out. Either way, you need to preach the word.

    I am fully aware of what people want. I am more interested in pleasing God that taking surveys.

    4. :rolleyes:
     
  13. Aaron

    Aaron Member
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    You aren't following any logic at all. That's the exact opposite of what I said. I said:
    I said cinema is just the opposite.

    Your misapprehension being corrected, the rest of your post is meaningless.

    I have answered it over and over, but you simply refuse to listen.

    When I say it's prescriptive you want to tack on all sorts of unrelated rubbish about electricity, motor cars and any other sort of technological device. You erroneously dub them "methods" and think your point is proven, when in fact you're simply clanging gongs and blatting trumpets.

    You do what you want to do. After all, that's what this is really about isn't it?
     
  14. All about Grace

    All about Grace New Member

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    And you are arguing from silence that he forbade everything else.

    There is a definite biblical precedence for culturally relevant communication. There is a definite pauline precedence for "becoming as the Jew in order to reach the Jew." There is a definite biblical precedence for employing cultural means to communicate the message (quotations of the pagan poets, Paul's references to the philosophical debates of his day, even parables themselves, etc.).

    Actually "kyrugmatos" has to do primarily with the content of the apostolic message (which is another element of this discussion altogether). As a matter of fact this term must be understood in its primary contexual application which must consider what was happening at Corinth.

    In other words, Paul is not saying "I am now providing the one and only acceptable method of gospel communication for all times." What he is primarily saying is that it is the content of his proclamation that saves sinners.

    Take this passage in the broader context and it is obvious Paul is contrasting the sophia of the Corinthians with the folly of the gospel, i.e., that God has chosen to save sinners through a crucified Messiah (message). This text is not about a contrast of methods but a contrast of messages.

    According to Aaron's self-imposed standards, you may be a liar (after all, you are creating an image that may or may not be factual) :D

    Paul also didn't suggest giving an altar call or standing behind a pulpit. Have you employed either of those means lately?

    Please do not misunderstand me here. I am not suggesting other methods of communication are equal to preaching. I believe preaching is primary. I just do not believe preaching is the only prescribed method of gospel communication.

    Let me point out another interesting point. Many of those who defend preaching as the only prescribed method are the same ones that argue against seeker-sensitive services, etc. There is an innate contradiction here that should be obvious.

    Yet to allow room for personal faith-sharing as the primary means of gospel communication distorts your interpretation of "preaching as the only prescribed method" in the above texts.
     
  15. All about Grace

    All about Grace New Member

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    So you are suggesting that you can exegete a text and preach an entire sermon on a biblical passage without imposing an interpretation upon your hearer? :rolleyes:

    When you want to work within the parameters of hermeneutics, let me know.

    Actually you have not stated clearly that you believe the NT model is prescriptive.

    Interesting that you should embellish your thoughts to include electricity and motor cars. Some in your camp have been very quick to criticize certain churches for employing "technological devices" such as electrically-driven children's facilities and fire truck baptistries. I am glad to know that this discussion has led you to admit that these are not methods but simply technological devices. :D

    Once again, you only want to include those "methods" that fit your own agenda. As I have pointed out in the very definition of the word "method", any means that is used to reach a desired end is a method. Those methods you want to categorize as "technological devices" are means employed to accomplish a goal (communicating the gospel effectively).

    Back to the prescriptive vs descriptive issue. Just two initial questions from which we can build:

    1) Does your church duplicate the Acts model of ministry (nothing more - nothing less)?

    2) Do you believe the NT provides us an exhaustive description (that translates into a prescription) of the NT church?
     
  16. Aaron

    Aaron Member
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    According to Aaron's self-imposed standards, you may be a liar (after all, you are creating an image that may or may not be factual)

    *sigh*

    One more time. If you impersonate me, the best you can do is present a charicature. You will emphasize certain features and ignore others.

    And that's what happens in drama. All impersonations are simply charicatures despite the best efforts of the actor to faithfully communicate the person.

    It is especially egregious when impersonating Christ, in whom was the fullness of grace. You present a charicature, a sham.
     
  17. Daniel David

    Daniel David New Member

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    You have got to be kidding. Is this what this discussion has been reduced to? Tell me, do you baptize infants? You can't say that it is wrong because the Scripture does not absolutely forbid it. Great logic. :rolleyes:
     
  18. All about Grace

    All about Grace New Member

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    Actually I do not baptize infants b/c there is a biblical precedence that indicates only believers were baptized.

    However I do not believe there is a biblical precedence for water temperature, robe or plain clothes, baptistry or pool, etc. These are methodological matters where the text is silent and therefore culture and preferences become factors.

    Before constructing your excessive straw man, answer this question: do you use any method that is not absolutely prescribed in Scripture?
     
  19. All about Grace

    All about Grace New Member

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    Avoiding the post directed to you Aaron?
     
  20. Aaron

    Aaron Member
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    Avoiding the post directed to you Aaron?

    Please! I was at work and only had a moment. I simply began reading where I left off, saw the sentence, responded and logged off.

    I am not one to walk away from a discussion. You should know that by now.

    So you are suggesting that you can exegete a text and preach an entire sermon on a biblical passage without imposing an interpretation upon your hearer?

    Now this is characteristic of your refusal to look at statements in their contexts. I am contrasting drama and homily, imitation and impersonation. It is within that context I said that through homily I cannot dictate to your mind (my very words, BTW) to ascribe my own manner of speech to Christ, yet when acting I can, especially if this is your first exposure to the Gospel.

    And though my preaching is weak, I have the assurance that the Spirit will work through the foolishness of preaching, but no such implication exists anywhere in the Scriptures that the Spirit will solemnize any kind of exhibition.

    Interesting that you should embellish your thoughts to include electricity and motor cars.

    Why is that interesting. You bring those things into the discussion everytime the subject comes up. I learned to anticipate it.

    Some in your camp have been very quick to criticize certain churches for employing "technological devices" such as electrically-driven children's facilities and fire truck baptistries.

    Again, your lack of discernment is glaring. I'm not sure what you mean by "electrically-driven children's facilities," so I will wait for more information before commenting.

    But a firetruck baptistry? Let's see if I can open your eyes to the fallacy.

    When the former mayor of New York donned a FDNY cap, was he honoring himself or the firefighters? If the President of the United States is riding in a motorcade in a firetruck, does the truck honor the President, or does the President honor the truck?

    In both cases, the dignitaries would have to take on a somewhat undignified role to honor these men.

    In baptism, the honor is to go to the Lord, and the use of a firetruck-shaped baptistry profanes that honor by making baptism something akin to any other amusement one might find in a theme park. God is not pleased nor served by this kind of outward pomp and show.

    And while we're on the subject, are you suggesting that all the outward trappings of the Roman church, e.g. priestly garments, the burning of incense, the lighting of lamps, the head bobbers, the kneelers, the statues, the kissing of rings, etc., would be just peachy if the doctrine were pure? After all, by your definition these things are only methods, and culturally relevant methods at that. :rolleyes:

    This very kind of spectacle goes hand in hand with idolatry, for what is idolatry without spectacle?

    How can we condemn Rome for her excesses, yet excuse our own idolatry because it's a firetruck instead of a candlestick.

    Go figure.

    I am glad to know that this discussion has led you to admit that these are not methods but simply technological devices.

    Not all devices are hallowed either.

    [ December 20, 2002, 07:32 AM: Message edited by: Aaron ]
     
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