Theology Served Raw
Hi Bryan - I've listened to some of your first talk and enjoyed it. It's challenged me on something that's been on and off my mind for a bit. We live in a small town, and none of the churches are particularly strong on Bible teaching or calls to holiness, so we go to one for communion and seek to be challenged through reading from various other sources - not least yourself. The difficulty for me: I agree that church authority is needed - and I wish I'd had more of it at key points of my life! - but when you say that we need to be in a church that is committed to the apostles' teaching, aren't we then judging by our own individual interpretation if they are holding to it, so we're still the primary judges of what is true? And I doubt that you have agreed with everything any church leader you've sat under has said - indeed, a church leader whose church I used to be part of said I was wrong and irresponsible for my views on birth control. So was I wrong in not submitting to him in that?I'm not trying to shake off the idea of church authority, because I absolutely agree it's needed - indeed, the view of Tradition as authoritative interpretation in the Catholic and EO churches would be wonderful if true because it would make things that much easier, although of course I think it's finally incoherent and false. But I hope you can see the difficulty.
Sure. Whenever I preach these types of sermons, they are general principle sermons. I realize that there are exceptions where there are only mediocre churches as opposed to solid ones. In those cases, I would seek to submit to orthodox Christianity as it has come through the creeds and view the church as both an avenue of being ministered to and an avenue of ministering. As for judging the church, we are judging it using historic orthodoxy and orthopraxis, but it is only because we have that as an interpretive guide when we read the Bible and use the Bible as the ultimate authority in that framework to judge whether a church is solid or not. It really comes down to evaluating things on a church by church basis. But submitting to the historic church allows us to judge the modern church without just going rogue and becoming malformed by our own private interpretations and theories.