Sep 13, 2008

In Lieu Of Institutional Christianity

In response to the Catholic sacramentalism, many have adopted a view that the New Covenant is not one marked by any outward expression or form. The proponents of this view also emphasize that the New Covenant is wholly represented by sprituality and invisibility. The major malfunction with that statement is simply refuted, Christ appointed the signs of the sacraments. Most notably in His command to remember His death until He comes again and to carry out the great commission. If I may quote Edmund P. Clowney in Contours of Christian Theology: The Church,

These outward signs mark out a visible fellowship; they structure Christ's church as a community with membership. Baptism requires a decision about admission to the community. The Supper, a sign of continuing fellowship, implies exclusion of those who have turned away from the Lord. Those who scorn the church as an institution may rightly rebuke the secularizing of the church on the model of imperial Rome or entrepreneurial Wall Street, but the sacraments testify that the church must have organized form as well as an organic life. (emphasis mine)

I can never over express my sympathy for those who have utter disdain for the institutional and overly sacramental church structures, but have sadness for their utter rejection of anything that system resembles that is clearly residual from the structure the Lord lays out in scripture. The reason for my sympathy is one of a similar conscience and similar perspective, but the empathy comes from hoping the dim mirror would be clearer for them. But to reject any of its form because of institutional abuse is a response to the farthest extreme and a rejection of scripture and biblical mandate itself.

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