There are some practices that exist within that church, which could be considered to be expressions of the authentic body of Christ. The Church is a body, it has many parts, it must be alive, and it must grow; but it must also be organic, and organic things can die. Death is often seen as a curse by us in our western culture. We fear it, avoid it.
It may be noted here, that death is not the curse. Death is of course promised by God as a result of eating from the tree in the middle of the garden, but it is promised in such a way as the unhappy consequence of disobedience. If you let the faucet run too long, the sink will overflow - it states the causality of an event, and that which it causes. A curse, in turn, is a punitive event. Because you did this, I'm electing to inflict this upon you. There is no evidence that God elected to inflict death on the world, just that death would be the inevitable result of disobedience. In this light it is possible that death then is part of the restorative process. “In the day you eat of it, you shall have to die...” in order to be restored in relationship to God.
As a body, and as an organic being, the churches natural environment is the one in which the life of the creature thrives. That natural environment for the church is not the institutional framework of a 501(c)(3), large buildings, and large groups of people. Rather the natural environment of the church has always been small local groups of people meeting secretly, growing through individual and personal interactions, dividing and spreading out from
, Jerusalem Judea, , and the ends of the earth. Samaria
The church has done best under persecution, and it is of notable concern that today, what we call the church seeks to have considerable political and societal influence along the lines of the current dysfunctional powers. “The Work [gospel] is not a matter of persuasive rhetoric; rather, Christianity is greatest when it is hated by the world.” The living church has always been subversive against the dysfunction of society in attempting to influence those around it for positive change. I’ve seen some pervert the gospel of Jesus, into a gospel of succeeding in capitalism. I’ve been up all hours discussing with some, that Jesus did not come to institute capitalism, it is not “God’s system” as some cults within Christianity teach un-refuted by the mainstream. Loving ones neighbor has become elective because it reminds us of socialism.
The fact is that the doctrines we hold most foundational, within the church, are the least supported within the Bible, and particularly the teachings of Jesus. It has been said that “Jesus called for the Kingdom, and a church appeared.” Jesus message was always “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” The Church has in the past two-thousand years so attached herself to some ideas that she is unwilling to budge, even if it means disregarding some of the gospel message, and I fear, even if it means being some of those cut off branches from Romans 11.
A living church lives with-in God’s kingdom. To understand community is to understand the purpose of man, for the community we call the church was and is supposed to be the realization of God’s reign and authority over his creation.
A living church reproduces, it must give birth to new bodies, it is un-natural to hold them within itself as it grows larger. If not stillborn, these new bodies tend to look like a mother pregnant with a twelve year old.
In terms of relevance, the Church is thirty years late in reacting to Postmodernism, but the church was never meant to nor should it be a reactionary body. Instead we are called to be salt and light, to have an answer for the faith which we have. The Church should be providing an alternative answers to the new nihilists. The Church must stand ready to oppose the imposition of standards upon it by outsiders, it must be at once ready to proclaim from the roof tops, and go underground. The living church is counter-cultural, not in the sense of being irrelevant, but in that it is always revolutionary against the ideas of this world. We should be afraid if we can too comfortably reconcile the spirit of the age with our faith.
A glimpse at the second century church shows us what the church has been in centuries past, and still is like in parts of the world today. Diognetus, (150-225 AD) writes:
“This teaching of theirs has not been discovered by the thought and reflection of ingenious men, nor do they promote any human doctrine as some do. But while they live in both Greek and barbarian cities, as each ones lot was cast, and follow the local customs in dress and food and other aspects of life, at the same time they demonstrate the remarkable and admittedly unusual character of their own citizenship. They live in their own countries, but only as aliens; they participate in everything as citizens, and endure everything as foreigners...They live on earth, but their citizenship is in heaven. They obey the established laws; indeed in their private lives they transcend the laws. They love everyone, and by everyone they are persecuted. They are unknown, yet they are condemned; they are put to death, and yet they are brought to life. They are poor yet they make many rich; they are in need of everything, yet they abound in everything. They are dishonored, they are glorified in their dishonor; they are slandered, yet they are vindicated. They are cursed, yet they bless; they are insulted, yet they offer respect. When they do good, they are punished as evildoers; when they are punished they rejoice as though brought to life. By the Jews they are assaulted as foreigners, and by the Greeks they are persecuted, yet those who hate them are unable to give a reason for their hostility.” 
For God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, the weak to shame the strong - he came in the most ridiculous and preposterous fashion as a baby, to redeem those in open rebellion, and in so doing demonstrates to us all how we should live humbly with him as our King.
What does it mean to live in the Kingdom? It means that we embrace life of Christ IN our lives. The life of Christ exists beyond all dimensions and it is this authority from which nothing within these dimensions may separate us. Life in the kingdom is a life of action. As our faith becomes more real to us, we are compelled to act, more in tune with the kingdom above, than the concerns below.
The world's biggest struggle is that of identity. The question of “who am I?” is answered with labels, consumerism, and the answers of others. People march in the streets “claiming” their identity, or demanding it. Others strip the identity of others, because they feel they've been cheated from their own. Hatred, violence, even our petty political squabbles, and a host of social problems stem from the fact that we find that an identity based on cultural capital is insufficient to give us a true sense of who we are. Why is it that people are so reluctant to allow homosexuals to be called “married;” why is it that homosexuals want to be called “married?” It is an identifying piece of cultural capital that if lost or gained, is seen to somehow alter one's sense of identity.
The truth is we have an identity, we are “sons of God;” and yet to learn what this means, we must learn to see the Image of God imprinted in others as we relate to them. This is the greatest teaching of Jesus,
Many today are totally distracted. Marx said in the 19th century, that religion was the opiate of the masses. Today to hear this quoted is laughable. Entertainment, TV, movies, pop music, and recreational drugs – these are the opiates today. We as a culture watch inspiring movies while sitting in our living rooms. The emotions we feel are the same ones that caused our ancestors to charge battlefields whether following Genghis Khan, William Wallace, or El Cid. We however expend these emotions on our couch, accomplishing nothing but a bag of popcorn. The TV’s and music which are always blaring in our ears, keep us from being able to think clearly or deeply, so that our society is one of superficiality. The effectiveness of advertising on the basis of nothing more than glitz and sex appeal should tell us there is something wrong, but it doesn’t. We numb ourselves with dissociative behaviors because we dislike our reality, and are told we are powerless to do anything about it. Having once accepted the lessons of Locke and Rousseau, we have been led to forget what they meant. Recreational drugs serve as a replacement for interaction with the divine.
The False hope of autonomy within democracy has given rise to movements such as feminism, which has succeeding in making the only difference between men and women their genitals, not their hearts. Identity thus becomes the major confusion in society. When the church defines marriage as being about who can have sex, and we accept that there is no difference between the genders, men can marry men, and women can marry women. When it is about complimenting our character and learning the character of God, because it is not good for man to be alone, we find that the genders are immensely important - denying them robs us of who we are. Of course, when the church makes the argument about morality it rings hollow, because not only did we cause the problem, but we refuse to acknowledge it, and misidentify it so as to pass on the blame. Someone once said “The Church, she’s a whore, but she’s my mother.”
This is the result not simply of a “fallen world” as Christians write it off as: It is the fault of a grand experiment gone wrong. Democracy does not work. It does not work, because its aim is precisely the opposite of our true identity; it seeks freedom and autonomy, which is antithetical to the kingdom. We are not lone autonomous beings, but we give up our rebellion precisely because of its hopelessness.
Democracy steals our ambitions; it leads to each one doing what is “right in his own eyes.” It leads to power grabbing, greed, all of the behaviors listed above, the end result is ignorance, stupidity; we gladly become fools. When we had kings we at least knew we were subjects, and those kings faced God’s judgment for their failures.
Since we are “autonomous” we take upon ourselves the guilt for our corporate actions. We fill the hole described by Pascal as “God shaped” with capitalism, consumerism, goods and wealth. Those who rise to the top are not the best and brightest called and gifted leaders, but rather those who followed Nietzsche’s directive, the opportunists who stood on the most people, deceived the best, lied the most, grabbed the most wealth, and so there is no real democracy anymore – we are led by an oligarchy of the wicked; whose ways we walk in willingly.
What is worse, we have used this formula for the governing of our own institution and church. We do not follow people for their own recognized calling or gifting, but for their ability to inspire us in our pews, while allowing us to get up just like after the movie, and forget all about the point. We praise the academics that raise ideas to such a pretentious level so that they cannot be practiced (so as to relieve our conscience). The church is no longer a body of believers, but a democratic club. In rejecting the leaders whom God has anointed, we reject the authority that they represent.
We continue on to develop doctrine by committee. Of course we reject the notion of God speaking today, of prophetic gifting, because that would mean that one person was more right than others…oh wait, that’s pluralism again isn’t it.
Because of this, we cling rigidly to our political positions, our Baptist ideas, or your Anglican ones are to us the same as if we were talking Democrat and Republican. We accepted pluralism in the church long before it was an accepted position among the world. The failure of the Puritans and others was not that they needed a new understanding of the word “tolerance,” they needed an understanding of their Kings command to “Love thy neighbor.”
Doctrine is thus the least important of elements when we consider community, for as A.W. Tozer writes:
“That our idea of God corresponds as nearly as possible to the true being of God is of immense importance to us. Compared with our actual thoughts about Him, our creedal statements are of little consequence. Our real idea of God may lie buried under the rubbish of conventional religious notions and may require an intelligent and vigorous search before it is finally unearthed and exposed for what it is.” 
Ignatius of Antioch said this:
“It is right, therefore that we not just be called Christians, but that we actually be Christians.”
Communication is often the limiting factor within community, even though we may have the same vision in our minds. Thus we must practically take steps to ensure that we allow for differences of expression, especially on issues of doctrine. It is these differences that have made the Christian tradition so rich over the years. Liturgy alongside free expression, high and low church, sacraments both as celebratory elements such as in the eucharist, and in the everyday such as is held by the Salvation Army.
We should be on our guard however in dealing with the new trend to be seeker sensitive, to grow, and to make the Church a center of Arts and Culture. The Priests in Jesus day sought to make the temple more seeker sensitive, and user friendly by providing sacrifices for sale, and exchanging currencies so that the temple tax could be paid properly.
In the trend toward the “
” model, we should not forget that there is value in gathering as a larger body on occasion to celebrate and worship together. On the other hand, in a Church setting we become numbers and the element of community can be entirely lost. We must also do what is practical to meeting together frequently, “for when you meet together frequently, the powers of Satan are overthrown and his destructiveness is nullified by the unanimity of your faith.” House Church
Community is hope, it is help, it is others who walk on the narrow road on their own personal journey, encouraging those ahead and behind, cheering on their fellow runners and it is most importantly the living breathing body of Christ for us to see in our time. Bottom of Form
 Indeed the last time Church leaders sought to diversify into politics and take over the governing of nations, we saw what we now remember as the Cark Ages. (James H. Rutz, The Open Church, (Sargeant, Ga.: Seedsowers, 1992) p.8)
 Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Romans, (Michael W. Holmes, J.B. Lightfoot, and J.R. Harmer, The Apostolic Fathers, Second Edition (Grand Rapids, Mi.: Baker Book House, 1998), p.103)
 whatever name this MLM scam hides itself by today
 On this subject I highly recommend reading “The
: How to bring back the Exciting Life of the Open Church ” by James H. Rutz. First Century Church
 The Epistle of Diognetus, 5:3-17, (Michael W. Holmes, J.B. Lightfoot, and J.R. Harmer, The Apostolic Fathers, Second Edition (
, Mi.: Baker Book House, 1998) p.299) Grand Rapids
 Romans , , Galatians 3:26, 4:6, and numerous places in Hebrews
 Attributed to
, Augustine, and Dorothy Day, original author is unknown. Cicero
 “If the church ever loses her faithful obedience to her Lord, she has lost her life and her soul.” (Alister McGrath, Understanding Doctrine; What it is – and Why it Matters (Grand Rapids, Mi.: Zondervan, 1990), p.13)
 A.W. Tozer, Why We Must Think Rightly About God http://www.unccornerstone.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/Why-we-must-think-rightly-about-God-Tozer.pdf
 Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Magnesians, (Michael W. Holmes, J.B. Lightfoot, and J.R. Harmer, The Apostolic Fathers, Second Edition (Grand Rapids, Mi.: Baker Book House, 1998) p.94)
 Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Ephesians, (Ibid. p.90)
AnteChurch: confession of a young theologian, Copyright © 2010 by J.D.M. Jinno. All rights reserved. The Author grants the right for an individual to print one complete copy of this work for personal use only. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever (including but not limited to appearance on websites other than http://www.antechurch.com) without written permission except in the case of brief quotations. You may link to http://www.antechurch.com. For more information contact the author at antechurch @ gmail.com
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