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Monday, June 05, 2006

1 Corinthians 14:26 -- Descriptive or Prescriptive?

In a recent post on Spunky Homeschool's blog, the subject of house church came up. The comments section (viewable here) sparked some interesting discussion (still in progress) between myself and several other readers. Spunky gave me permission to "hijack" her blog comments for the discussion, for which I'm grateful. It's a subject I love talking about.

However, as I was talking in that discussion about biblical accounts of New Testament church activities being descriptive or prescriptive, a question came to my mind that I have not allowed myself to fully deal with in the past couple of years. It's one of those "am I really being honest with the text here" questions, and I thought I would throw it out here for discussion.

Many times in discussing principles related to simple church, I reference 1 Corinthians 14:26. Now, please understand that my beliefs about simple church do not all hinge on this one verse, so it's not a "make or break" issue for me. Quite honestly, open participatory meetings are described throughout the rest of 1 Corinthians 14. However, I want to be honest in my dealing with this particular verse.

Let me quote the verse here in various translations so that we can get a feel for it, and then I'll ask my question:

What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church. (NIV)

What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation Let all things be done for edification. (NASB)

So here's what I want you to do. When you gather for worship, each one of you be prepared with something that will be useful for all: Sing a hymn, teach a lesson, tell a story, lead a prayer, provide an insight. (The Message)

What then, brethren, is [the right course]? When you meet together, each one has a hymn, a teaching, a disclosure of special knowledge or information, an utterance in a [strange] tongue, or an interpretation of it. [But] let everything be constructive and edifying and for the good of all. (Amplified)

How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. (KJV)

Well, my brothers and sisters, let's summarize what I am saying. When you meet, one will sing, another will teach, another will tell some special revelation God has given, one will speak in an unknown language, while another will interpret what is said. But everything that is done must be useful to all and build them up in the Lord. (NLT)

Now, my question relates to the part where Paul says something to the effect of "When you come together...." Is this statement a description by Paul of what was currently happening in Corinth? Or is it what he is telling them should happen when they gather? In other words, were the Corinthians overemphasizing the idea that everyone could participate? Or was Paul saying that everyone should participate? Is it descriptive or is it prescriptive?

In favor of it being descriptive, there is a similar use of the "when you come together" phrase in this same letter. That is in 1 Corinthians 11, specifically verses 18 and 20. (It also appears in verse 33, but that actually falls under the next idea of being prescriptive, so hold that thought.) In 11:18,20 it is obvious that Paul is describing their current condition. In fact, he even says explicitly in verse 18 that he has received word to this effect ("when you come together...I hear..."). So, this would lend possibility to the idea that Paul is describing a current situation. In this case, he might be issuing a correction to them when he says, "Let all things be done for edification."

On the flip side, however, we have a prescriptive use of this phrase in 11:33 where Paul is correcting the problem identified in 11:18,20. In this interpretation, then, 14:26 would be seen as prescriptive. Additionally, we have the word "whenever" in 14:26, which does not exist in any of the uses in chapter 11. The uses in chapter 11 (from my very limited remembrance of Greek) carry the idea of "coming together...", whereas 14:26 is more of a "whenever you do come together..." idea.

An additional aspect of 14:26 which might possibly lend itself to understanding is the way the verse starts. Paul says, "What is the outcome then, brethren?" In other words, this verse ties in very much with what Paul had just discussed. In the context immediately preceding, Paul has discussed tongues and prophecy very specifically. And in the verses following 26, he is again going to speak about tongues and prophecy very specifically. Prior to verse 26, he uses the phrases "if all speak in tongues" (14:23) and "if all prophesy" (14:24). Verse 26 then provides a contrast very much in keeping with his discourse on the gifts in chapter 12. It is a description of the varied gifts that should all be exercised for the edification of the body.

I'm sort of answering my own question, but I want to leave it at that, and ask for your thoughts in return. Do you think Paul is describing (in 14:26) a current situation in Corinth that needed correction? Or is he prescribing for them the correct approach that should be taken? (This latter viewpoint would be consistent with most of the translations I quoted above. Not all the translations are very clear grammatically, though, as to the intended interpretation.)

Until next time,

steve :)

24 comment(s):

Well I'm not sure how valuable my input here will be since I'm a pastor of an "Institutional church" (although I love reading your blog and ideas about simple church Steve) but here goes:

I would opt on the "descriptive" side of the equation for several reasons. First of all, order seems to be a problem for these guys in Corinth. In this same passage Paul sets prohibitions/limitations on prophecy and tongues. He further goes on to urge them to stifle what appears to be undue chatter from the unlearned women present at the meetings (vs. 34).

So in my mind it seems very contradictory that Paul would be issuing these polemics against disorderly conduct and yet then tell everyone to bring a tongue, psalm, and a revelation to the table. I'm not a KJV-only guy but I think it properly captures the essense of the sarcasm Paul was trying to convey. Clearly the Corinthians had ego problems and felt a sense of spiritual elitism because of their giftedness.

By Blogger Henry Haney, at Monday, June 05, 2006 8:00:00 PM  

Henry, you are not the only IC pastor who reads here. In fact, if you keep up with the comments, you will find Gordon and Ray are two IC pastors who frequently engage the discussion. Your comments are likewise very welcome here! :)

Having said that, I'm very disappointed that I didn't convince you of the prescriptive idea in this post ;) hehe (just kidding)

Seriously, I'm interested in your view on something you said. You made the comment that Paul goes on in this passage to set "prohibitions/limitations on prophecy and tongues." Yet, don't we in our institutional churches place even morelimitations on the exercising of gifts than Paul did?

Additionally, isn't there an element in chapters 12-14 to which Paul is saying that all the gifts are necessary for a healthy body, that none of the gifts should be shunned or looked down upon, and that all should be done in love and for edification?

Even if the first part of 14:26 is descriptive, what does he mean, then, by the end of the verse that says that "all things" (or even "all these things"...the Greek basically just says "all") should be done for edification?

Thanks for commenting, Henry. Your comments are definitely welcome here.

steve :)

By Blogger Steve Sensenig, at Monday, June 05, 2006 8:20:00 PM  

Well, I pastor a Pentecostal church (COG) so we're probably more open to excercise of gifts than some mainline IC's. Most IC's fall between two extremes IMHO- either a cold resistance to any manifestation of the Spirit OR absolute "Charismania".

I do agree with your point that all of the gifts are significant. Again I see a polarity with this- the cessationist view which seeks to demonize or to a lesser degree demean the vocal gifts (tongues, prophecy, etc.) and the tendency of those within my camp (Pentecostal) to exalt those gifts above the others ( I can't remember the last time I saw discerning of spirits or working of miracles in action and yet I see tongues/prophecy almost everywhere I go).

As far as the "all things" goes...I think Paul was basically saying whatever is done(i.e. whatever gift(s) is/are in operation should be done for the glory of God and not for selfish display of spirituality (hence chapter 13 is tucked in-between the great discourses on gifts).

I do not necessarily believe Paul was making an appeal that every gift should be exercised in every Christian gathering...but I reserve the right to be wrong :)

By Blogger Henry Haney, at Monday, June 05, 2006 9:39:00 PM  

I guess what occurs to me is that either way you think of the passage (de-or pre-), Paul gives instructions on order. In so doing, there is evidence that he expected gatherings to possibly include all these expressions, and he indicates a multiple of voices are expected to be contributing in the gathering.

How incorrect could it be to see it both ways? Paul speaks to the Corinthian brethren an instruction on toning it down and describes the solution, which in effect is a prescribing of the order he is confident is God's intent for all gatherings.

By Anonymous ded, at Tuesday, June 06, 2006 8:37:00 AM  

Steve,

I'll throw in my 2 cents worth... I believe 1 Corinthians 14 is both descriptive and prescriptive. If you will allow me to explain...

Paul's purpose in 1 Corinthians 14 appears at first reading to be to lift prophecy about tongues. However, this is not the entire story. Paul recognizes that tongues are a valid gift of the Spirt (1 Cor. 12:10,28) and are therefore beneficial. In fact, Paul mentions that he speaks in tongues more than the Corinthians (14:18).

Therefore, context is important in understanding what Paul is teaching. Paul is teaching the proper use of gifts within the gathering of the church (14:4,5,12,19,23,26,28,33,34,35). During the gathering of believer, prophecy is better because the entire body is edified. Of course, this does not mean that exercising other gifts is wrong, because they could also be used to edify the church. On the otherhand, uninterpreted tongues do not edify the church, even though they do efify the speaker. Since the church is not edified by uninterpreted tongues, they should not be spoken during the gathering.

Therefore, 1 Corinthians 14:26 is both descriptive and prescriptive. It is descriptive because it lists how the Corinthians are already approaching their gatherings: Whenever you come togehter, each one has... (present tense... continuing action... this is happening). It is prescriptive because Paul teaches them that whatever happens during the gathering must be for the purpose of edifying the body. Thus, the prohibitions following 14:26 demonstrate how gifts can be used (or silenced) in order to edify the body.

I'm sorry this comment is so long... Thank you for your patience.

Alan

By Blogger Alan Knox, at Tuesday, June 06, 2006 9:02:00 AM  

You've given me much food for thought Steve. I am going to print this out for my husband to read. Thanks for adding so much to this discussion.

By Blogger Spunky, at Tuesday, June 06, 2006 10:22:00 AM  

henry haney -- I am also an IC pastor, and I will assure you that Steve and ded are very gracious. That is one of the reasons that I frequent this corner of the blogsphere! :-)

Now, as to my thoughts -- I think henry haney covered them very well... I am in that camp...

BTW, as an aside -- regarding henry haney's comment -- Most IC's fall between two extremes IMHO- either a cold resistance to any manifestation of the Spirit OR absolute "Charismania" this is exactly what I find...

I spoke on it this weekend as it was Pentecost/Shavuot. I remarked that it is sad when we take an event that UNIFIED the church and make it a point of division (as many have done of Pentecost)

By Blogger Ray, at Tuesday, June 06, 2006 12:42:00 PM  

He he. Me again. (Coming from your hsb blog). Interesting. I would still go back to what seems to be the model of the synagogue, which would have been more of the "institution" I guess. Since the community met and worshipped together. But it did not take place like our churches here for the most part, or so I've read. There was time for the reading of the law, and there was time for debate. Experts in the law would discuss points and argue about what it meant. Any males over 12 could be considered elders and any of them could raise questions or offer input. Even if they did not believe with the Pharisees or Sadduccees. Even Christ himself, and the other Apostles...it seems the coersion to make them stop always occured behind the scenes. By their Jewish birth, they could teach in the synagogue.

It was a great deal different than what we know of today, but still an institution. I do believe that Paul is speaking to something that would have been clearer to believers of the day (not that it isn't applicable to us).

This is actually an area our church has been making some changes in recently. (I told you I might be more inclined to explore these options if I did not feel I were in a good church). I like that when we conclude a study, sometimes some things will be adjusted to bring the body more in line with scripture. This was in relationship to this and similar scriptural principles. We still don't interrupt the speaker, or raise hands in service. Our group of "frozen chosen" probably wouldn't, even if it were expected. But the Sunday School hour has changed to reflect this and give time for discussion and questioning. In fact, the largest group meets to digest the sermon and goes through it point by point, trying to give personal application to the message. (I have a hard time with that one, because we go to second service, so digesting food that I have not yet ingested doesn't work so well : )

By Blogger Dana, at Tuesday, June 06, 2006 10:20:00 PM  

Alan, thanks for your comments. I love reading your blog. Congrats on your recent graduation, too. Feel free to comment here anytime. And long comments are definitely allowed here!

ded, I'm kinda with you on the "both ways" interpretation. Or at least, I understand what you see there, and I don't have a problem with it.

Dana, oh great. Just when I was thinking I needed to bow out of the discussion over at Spunky's, you bring it over here ;) hehe (just kidding). I really appreciate your tone with me over at Spunky's, and you are most welcome here. Ray (one of my other commenters here, who commented above) probably will like your comments about the synagogue. I've still got a lot to learn in that area.

Ray, thanks for the endorsement. When I saw Henry's comment, I turned to my wife, Christy, and said, "How is it that I get all these IC pastors commenting on my blog, and they're not mad at me?" ;) I see the point you and Henry are making, and I'm definitely taking all of this into consideration.

All, just by way of clarification, I was only referring to the actual statement in a portion of 14:26, in which Paul says "each one has..." when I asked the de- vs. pre- question. I fully understand the last part of the verse ("Let all...") to be prescriptive.

I think a question that I continue to have burning in my mind anytime we discuss these things is: Everyone who comments here seems to see the legitimacy of the multiple speakers and the questions from listeners (unless I'm missing something from people here). If that is the case, why aren't we seeing this played out in our institutional churches more?

Dana talks about a Sunday School class that digests the sermon, and that's not a bad idea, but it raises two questions. 1) Is the pastor there to field the questions? and 2) Why do the question/answers have to be separate from the presentation of the material in the first place?

At what point do we accept the prescription Paul gives in the remainder of chapter 14 and actually start doing it? This is, by far, one of the greatest things for me weighing in favor of simple church. As I've expressed before, I believe this "on-the-spot" accountability for what is being spoken actually would result in more solid teaching, and more mature listeners.

When I was in college and seminary, I had some classes in large lecture halls where a prof lectured, and we took notes. Rarely was there an opportunity to ask a question.

I also had classes where the size of the class was smaller, we sat in a circle around the room, and dialogue was a major part of the process.

Guess which classes I learned the best in? And guess which ones inspired me more to actually interact with the material being taught? Is that just something unique to me?

steve :)

By Blogger Steve Sensenig, at Wednesday, June 07, 2006 12:10:00 AM  

That you would use the word "inspire" to describe your emotional reaction and its concurrent experience of greater learning in the small group format is telling. I've experienced this as well and heard others echo the same. This is strong evidence that people need a small group experience in their Christian walk. I see it as part of both spiritual growth and the development of one's soul, kind of like the cream in coffee, inseparable but two flavors. A person cannot escape the experience of one's own soul. Neither can one escape the demands, needs, and drives of the soul. It is common for people to regard the soul as the fullness of life. (For the lost it is.) In the spirit available to Christians, however, experience with God brings order in the soul. The small group setting facilitates people's growth in soul and spirit through the give and take and reflection of exploring not just the scriptures, but the meaning of it all on a personal level. This is accomplished among loved and trusted spiritual siblings as a function of a mixture of voices/ perspectives providing encouragement, strengthening, and insight.

It is accepted, of course, that the Spirit of the Living God can take any message from one person and use it to cause an individual to push through some soulish obstacle into greater spiritual awareness. My point above is not to belittle the lecture. Yet, in thinking critically, comparisons of effectiveness are basic to evaluation.

This specific issue Steve has raised, like so many others, brings us back to consider, what do we "know" using our natural understandings through cognitive skills versus what do we "know" as a revelation from God in the spirit?

Jesus told Peter the Father had revealed to him the Truth about Jesus' identity as the Messiah.
I believe it is generally accepted by Christians that all true salvation is a function of this moment of revelation.

How much more of our experience as humans who belong to the family of God is a function of revelation? If the beginning of the relationship is by revelation, is it reasonable to assume that growth from that point on is based only on natural cognitive learning? If so, why?

If not, what is the best way to facilitate understanding revelatory knowledge? Is it so personal it cannot be taught? (I think not.) What if someone states something as a "revelation from God" and no one accepts such? The questions pile up quickly here. Abuse of "revelation" is among the reasons I left a charismatic church.

I believe this issue is high on the list of reasons the development of the lecture style format is pervasive in church culture today. The lecture format is safe.

I hold that if we will trust and pursue God in the small group format (note this does not negate the IC) with an understanding that exposure of our hearts to others is key to spiritual growth, we will be enabled by the experience to care for the natural soul while increasing our insight into the spiritual which is revelation of God.

Thanks, Steve, for allowing long comments!

By Anonymous ded, at Wednesday, June 07, 2006 9:20:00 AM  

ded, you made two statements that really caught my eye.

If the beginning of the relationship is by revelation, is it reasonable to assume that growth from that point on is based only on natural cognitive learning?

I honestly never thought of it in those terms, but you raise a very good point. I do not believe it is reasonable to assume a complete change in mode of learning. As you have indicated, cognitive learning can (and should?) take place. But to believe that it is the only way possible to learn from that point on is problematic. Great way to articulate it, ded.

The other thing that caught my eye was a fragment of a sentence:

I hold that if we will trust and pursue God in the small group format (note this does not negate the IC)...

As you probably know, I have been wrestling for a while in how to articulate my thoughts without sounding so "anti-institutional". You have touched on what I feel in my own thinking by saying that it does not negate the IC.

The way I have continued to try to articulate it here in my blogging is to challenge the institutional ideas in the areas in which I believe they hinder true spiritual growth and function of the body of Christ.

In the discussion on Spunky's blog that prompted this post, the assumption of some seems to be that simple churches reject any biblical teaching about elders, leaders, etc. I cannot, and will not, consciously reject clear teaching about biblical leadership. However, what is justified today as biblical leadership usually adds elements to it that are not clearly taught in Scripture. To that extent, I challenge the status quo.

steve :)

By Blogger Steve Sensenig, at Wednesday, June 07, 2006 9:31:00 AM  

Cognitive learning can and will take place. I think that is above question. I wonder about any group that functions directly or by implication as if God no longer reveals spiritual life, Spirit to spirit. Of what meaning is Jesus' prayer in John 17, if being one with God is only understood cognitively?

By Anonymous ded, at Wednesday, June 07, 2006 11:36:00 AM  

I think there's room for both of us under the gospel tent. The reason you're drawing attn from so many IC'ers Steve is because you frame your ideas with charity. You are able to discuss things intelligently and politely. Some in the HC/SC movement are downright militant against the IC and I don't sense that from you- nor am I militant against those who advocate an alternative method than the IC

Now back to the topic at hand- I think at some point it becomes a logistical problem the larger your group gets. I think the Scriptures (intentionally) leave room open in the realm of worship so that none of us become dogmatic about one particular style. We know that the early believers met from house to house(Acts 2:46-although they also met in the temple) but I rarely if ever hear any exposition on this scripture :

Acts 5:12 The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon's Colonnade (NIV)

I can only imagine that it would have taken all day if all the believers brought a doctrine, tongue, and a revelation to the meeting....It would have been interesting to witness those "services" to say the least. :)

By Blogger Henry Haney, at Wednesday, June 07, 2006 12:05:00 PM  

Might I just say that henry haney has touched upon something that I have thought about for a long time... The time constraints that the modern church has placed upon the fellowship is disturbing...

I actually attended a church that let out early when 'our team' was in the Super Bowl. When I questioned them on it, they said that they were worried that we would upset the congregation if we ran into the time of the game...

One thing that I do like about the HC/SC is that when people meet in homes, it seems that there is less of a time crunch... I could be wrong, but when we met in a home, we found that to be true...

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we actually set aside Sunday for a full-day of fellowship, rather than a twenty-minute pep talk, and a quick lunch and then back into our 'life'.

Sorry for the rant -- that is just one thing that I feel we are missing; true, in-depth, fellowship without time constraints...

By Blogger Ray, at Wednesday, June 07, 2006 9:34:00 PM  

Ray, that's funny because I must have read Henry's comment differently. I thought he was making the point that Paul couldn't possibly have been talking about everyone participating since it would have taken all day in some churches. Henry, do you want to clarify for us?

At any rate, with regard to time constraints, I find that our simple church gatherings rarely last less than 3 hours! Usually, they are four or five hours (not everybody necessarily stays the whole time, but still...)

For example, sometimes we meet at ded's house on a Sunday morning for breakfast (like at 9:30). There have been times when ded and his wife have ended up getting stuff out for lunch because it was 1:00 and we still were sharing together.

Gatherings at our house usually start at 4:00 in the afternoon on a Sunday. It's not uncommon to still be sharing together at 8:00 or later.

We used to meet with fellow believers on a weeknight starting at 6:30, and there were a handful of times that we actually stayed until midnight!

So yes, I would say that my experience lends itself to being anecodotal evidence for the HC/SC approach to be lengthier gatherings with no set ending time. (When hosting the meeting, I half-jokingly tell our fellowship, "Come when you can, leave when you must". I want people to know that they have the freedom to show up at 5, if necessary, or leave at 7, if necessary, etc.)

I won't bore you all with all the details of what takes place, but part of the time together is spent around the table eating. But that only seems to take maybe 45 minutes at the most. The remainder of the time is usually spent sharing spiritual teaching with each other and discussing what is being said.

steve :)

By Blogger Steve Sensenig, at Wednesday, June 07, 2006 11:27:00 PM  

Well, I had wrtiien a brilliant and intellectual commment only to lose it yesterday due to blogger acting crazy and I'm not too good at recreating myself...:) so...
today's version is basically I think the answer is both....this seems to me to be a perfect example of a worker addressing normal life in the church...this was definitely a rambuncious group and needed to chill out in some areas on the other hand Paul was also addressing their typical meetings too and perhaps their cultural personality as a church. Not so much a "how to" as a practical encouragement to be courteous, make sense, and regain some order in the chaos of churchlife. And you know that church meetings without appointed leaders, such as they had in Corinth can be very chaotic....this was just practical advice on managing their ongoing life together....an outside voice is invaluable in these type situations....

By Blogger Jada's Gigi, at Thursday, June 08, 2006 7:55:00 AM  

obviously I had not read one single comment before making my own...hence the reason for being so far off the general discussion...I don't think I have time to get into this from work...hehe..

By Blogger Jada's Gigi, at Thursday, June 08, 2006 8:02:00 AM  

Steve, you read me right. I highly doubt that the meetings in Solomon's Porch (where all the believers met according to Scripture) resembled those at the Corinthian house churches...although admittedly, that is pure conjecture on my part.

Just so you know Steve, I was raised in more of a house church environment. My grandparents were my Christian influence growing up, and they met weekly with a network of other house churches. They had plurality of eldership, everyone shared in the meetings, and the power of God was very strong. My earliest encounters with God as a little boy were framed by these folks...I wouldn't trade my heritage for anything!

Now, I'm in the IC and I feel like this is where I'm supposed to be. Frankly, I don't like the standard IC model for doing church. So much of what we do is purely tradition and culture. Perhaps God has me here(in the IC) for a reformation of sorts...I dunno and certainly don't want to think more highly of myself than I should as far as my ability to reform anything.

I'm not a big fan of the Emerging church movement from a theological perspective, but I think the reason it is gaining such momentum is that people are fed up with the status quo. What we call "fellowship" in the IC is actually an extremely poor excuse for biblical communion with one another (or with God for that matter).

There are times as a Pentecostal preacher when I feel as if I'm walking a tightrope. I do not want our meetings to be cold and lifeless but I have come to understand that if Satan cannot get you to quench the Spirit's fire, he will be content to let wildfire run rampant. I think balance is much needed. Much like the Calvinism/Arminianism debates (I won't go there...probably shouldn't have even brought it up-LOL).

....[ / diatribe mode ]

By Blogger Henry Haney, at Thursday, June 08, 2006 10:23:00 AM  

ray- thanks for verbalizing (blogging) my thoughts about the fellowship time in the IC. that is one of my reasons for wanting to leave. i hate to join your rant, but i totally agree. so many times i have been frustrated by the time constraints. having good fellowship with friends between ss and church time? oh, have to quit, time for church. for a while our ss class was so unhelpful to me that a friend and i actually met together in an unused room and had our own class (we called it heart-to-heart). it was just a time of sharing for us, the true fellowship that is so often lacking in church (at least institutional church). i won't say too much more because this is one of my "wounded heart" areas, and i admit there is still some bitterness about things that have happened. what good is sunday if you can't fellowship with the believers? and why limit it to sundays? and why limit it to certain hours of sunday? and what about the places where there is no dialogue, no "heart-sharing" with others? these are the people who are supposed to support me/encourage me in my christian walk?!? hardly!

By Blogger flutemom, at Friday, June 16, 2006 8:34:00 AM  

flutemom -- I think that those within the IC structure need to be delierate about their fellowshipping.

In the early church they spent the day (at least) together, most lived within the same confines.

They shared meals (which means something much more in that culture than it does in ours) and were basically family.

It seems to me that we 'fit' church into our life rather than functioning as part of the body daily...

By Blogger Ray, at Friday, June 16, 2006 5:42:00 PM  

and so we must deliberately seek to dwell with one another as a body (family) daily.

Anything less, seems to me to be less than the will of God. Yet as a busy American, I can't seem to get it to happen and meet all my responsibilities!

I am over obligated!!

By Anonymous ded, at Saturday, June 17, 2006 6:54:00 PM  

"It seems to me that we 'fit' church into our life rather than functioning as part of the body daily..."

ray, i agree!

"and so we must deliberately seek to dwell with one another as a body (family) daily.

Anything less, seems to me to be less than the will of God. Yet as a busy American, I can't seem to get it to happen and meet all my responsibilities!

I am over obligated!!"

ded, yes definitely. and the other thing i've found is that even if/when i'm not over-obligated, others are, and finding a time that suits both of our families is challenging. the sad thing, too, is how our culture, including the IC, seems to condone the over-obligated ones.

By Blogger flutemom, at Tuesday, June 20, 2006 9:35:00 PM  

My wife and I have enjojed reading your blog. We were studying what church should be like and found your webblog. We are wondering why what Paul describes as church is so differnet from our 4 songs, sermon, communion, collection, 2 songs and dismissal. I miss testmony times. I have wondered if each has a Psalm is testamony time. When I read Psalms, I see David sharing personal testamonies about his relationship with God. I have it on my list of things to talk to my pastor about. We have attended many denominations and find a similar style format. Kinda traditional church. I suspect that anything else would appear cultish. So if it is prescriptive, which pharmacy do I go to?
george&jill

By Blogger geo/jill, at Monday, August 07, 2006 7:47:00 PM  

hmm, prescriptive or descriptive?

i think i have to lean towards pre-. in particular, the verses after 26 seem to support this:

27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and one must interpret; 28 but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God. 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment. 30 But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted; 32 and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets; 33 for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.

here we see if someone gets a revelation, they can stand up and the previous speaker must be silent. this is tremendously kinetic, as each utterance is weighed and judged by the others.

also, someone made a comment earlier about tongues. tongues is a gift of the Holy Spirit, and is also for the assembly if it can be interpreted. i will not speak in tongues in front of others generally unless i feel a strong unction from the Spirit, and i have given interpretations also. i have 2 friends who have spoken in tongues to others, and unknowingly given a word of encouragement. i don't know if they spoke the other person's native language, or the recipient of the word simply received an interpretation. my friend jason was in europe and after praying over a man in tongues, the man said jason had blessed his whole family by name.

all that to say lets stick to the text, and not throw out tongues for the public meeting. we must have the gift of discernment to be able to test the spirits, ie. the SOURCE of utterances and gifts, in a meeting.

By Blogger Timothy, at Saturday, August 12, 2006 8:03:00 PM  

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