[“Ekklesia vs. Church” below]
Ambassador Paul was a zealous partisan, a Pharisee (Acts 26:5). He abandoned this separatist religion to live for Jesus. In our day, the redeemed community includes a whole host of believers who are caught up in the web of partisan religions, for God’s children are scattered over a diversity of sectarian terrains. However, God’s new reign stretches far beyond the borders of any sect, church, religious party, or cult. Partisan religions reign over a restricted territory. God’s reign is universal.
And while it may be wise to remove the apostate church entirely and start over, considering how grave “mad church disease” has plagued her, nonetheless many of her children may choose to remain where they are and work for reform. This is not always possible, however, because the apostate church “would rather fight than switch.” Reformers are not always welcome within her ranks. They are usually accorded the “left boot of fellowship.”
Martin Luther wanted to work within the Roman Catholic Church for reform, but the scandalous Vatican would have no part of it. Instead, they sought his life. He escaped the “Holy See’s” murderous hounds, but the sinister Vatican continued their efforts to find him and “do him in.”
Let it be understood that Jesus did not die for religious parties, churches, denominations, or cults. Instead, He died for Jews, He died for Gentiles, He died “for all the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one” (John 11:52). Jesus is not interested in uniting churches, denominations, and cults. He’s interested in uniting all of God’s scattered children, wherever they are, to bring them together into one body of believers, “so that they may be united as we [Son and Father] are united” (John 17:11).
Let it be noted that religious factions that march under partisan labels were founded by men centuries after Jesus ushered in His new reign. These include the Baptist Church, Methodist Church, Church of God, Church of Christ, Assembly of God, Catholic Church, Christian Church, Lutheran Church, Presbyterian Church, and all of the others.
If I might ask: To which of the above churches is Jesus aligned? Which of the above churches did Jesus found? Did He establish and authenticate all of them? If yes, what was the purpose, then, of the apostle Paul’s question to the Corinthian believers, as per 1 Corinthians 1:13? He asked them, “Is Christ divided?” If Jesus authored all of our schisms, He is indeed divided! And if He is divided, why would He then pray for unity among God’s children, as recorded in John 17:6-25?
But another question: To which of the above factions was Paul, Peter, John, and other apostles associated? The answer is obvious: None of them.
What, then, is the solution? Dismantle and dismiss all of our factional creations and march together under the banner of Jesus the Messiah. If our flag bears anything other than the blood of our Lord, it is an apostate flag. The only flag I will ever fly again, and the only label I will ever wear again, will portray Jesus the Messiah. All other flags and labels are bogus. To wave any other flag, whether Baptist, the a cappella Church of Christ (my “mentor” church), Church of God, Assembly of God, Methodist, or Catholic would compromise my relationship with my Lord and jeopardize my allegiance to Him. I will have no part of it.
So let’s tell it like it is. If Jesus ascended to heaven without being a Baptist, and He did, and if Paul, Peter and others were taken to paradise without being aligned with any of the above factions, and they were, I, too, can enter paradise without being a Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran, Mormon, Roman Catholic, Muslim, Church of Christ proponent, Jehovah’s Witness, or without being tainted with any of the other partisan colors. I think I’ll just be a “believer at large”—a Christian only. Surely that will be sufficient. God’s grace will fill in the gaps, if any need to be filled.
Ekklesia vs. Church— Our good brother Edward Fudge, Editor, Author, and personal friend, noted the other day in his gracEmail column (Sept. 16), “In the New Testament, our word ‘church’ does commonly represent ekklesia, and that word does have roots in the two words meaning ‘to call’ and ‘out.’ ” (Edward may be contacted at <Edward@EdwardFudge.com>)
I see his remarks as questionable. There is nothing in our English “church” that represents the Greek ekklesia. “Church” represents a denomination, a sect, a religious party, but never the Greek’s root meanings of assembly, congregation, or community. The best of Greek scholars say our English “church” does not depict or symbolize the Greek ekklesia. And incidentally, our English “church” does not have roots “in the two words meaning ‘to call’ and ‘out.’ ”
“Commonly” representing ekklesia, as our brother phrased it, and factually representing ekklesia are two entirely different concepts. Those addicted to “church” may “commonly” contend that it typifies the Greek ekklesia, but that conception is invalid when considering the root meanings in the Greek. My view is that “church” and what it entails is a fabrication of man, not the Holy Spirit. We never go amiss by recapturing the Spirit’s vocabulary.—Buff Scott JR.