Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Imperfect House-church


We must all be careful of "all or nothing," "black and white" thinking. (This is an i.d. mark of the sign scorpio, but, of course, can occur with anyone.)

So, when it comes to the early house-churches in Christian history, the implication should never be that they were flawless or perfect. And it was not our intent to support that inaccurate inference. Are house-churches good, constructive, and valuable? Yes, there can be no doubt of it.

Are they preferable to the gigantic impersonal corporations, churches as formal institutions? For me and many others, they are. Do they create warmth, intimacy, deep spirituality, and mutual support? Yes, they do.

But here's the question: Are they perfect? As you might suspect, with human beings working and playing together, they are not. No human enterprise, my friend, has ever been perfect. Even under the perfect guidance of the perfect Spirit of Love, imperfect human beings create imperfect systems. So, of course, the house-church is an imperfect system of imperfect people. But it does lack the hideous, widespread
politics of the formal Church. Absent is the budget of billions of dollars, which attracts corruption and dishonesty. Absent also is the implied and inevitable social stratification between formal "clergy" and "laity," more closely approximating the system of Jesus, in which all were equal sons and daughters of God.

Absent also is the list of dogmas set in concrete, to which everyone must subscribe. This insistence on mental sameness creates a Church of conformity, not of Love. It also destroys spiritual creativity, inventiveness, and originality. In time, the most microscopic variations of belief are damned as "heresy" or, in Islam, "apostasy."

In summary, the house-church has several advantages, many of them Love-advantages, over the formality, coldness, and de-personalization of the Church as corporation or institution. This basic premise is not at all altered by the obvious fact that house-churches are not perfect. Indeed, if we waited until we could do anything with perfection, human beings would never do anything at all!

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