Thursday, January 22, 2015

Was the Early Church "Minimalist" in Nature?

A commenter on this blog recently referred to my view of church life as "minimalist." In response I asked him to tell me specifically what he meant by this. He never answered my request.

I derive my view of the church from what I see in the New Covenant people of the New Testament. It's as simple as that. Therefore, if my view is minimalist, that means that what we see in the New Testament is also minimalist. But what are we even talking about here?

The term "minimalist" implies that the early church was in the beginning stages, but that maturation was left to come. In other words, what we see in the New Testament is the early form of the church but other changes in form would actually improve upon what we see in the bible. Simply put, it's the concept that later alterations were improvements upon what we read about in our bibles.

I outright reject this idea.

If the early church was minimalist, then we would read in the New Testament about changes in the future that the church should make in order to improve somehow. I'm referring here to alterations in form and structure, not in holiness. However, the New Testament does not even hint that the early believers ought to change what they were doing. They were not minimalist; they were just as they should be.

The charge of early church minimalism is one made by some proponents of today's traditional/institutional church forms. They do this in order to justify their structures and practices that have no biblical basis (for example worship services, large buildings, and salaried clergy).

The minimalist charge fails because it has no evidence to support it. The New Testament does not suggest an early church that is lacking anything. Instead, we see fully functioning church families living as the Spirit leads. Therefore, it is safe to say that the early church was not minimalist. It was as God wanted it.

We do well to follow their model.

1 comment:

Tim A said...

"The minimalist charge fails because it has no evidence to support it." This is not why the minimalist fails. This is an argument from silence. The fact that the Bible does not speak to having church buildings or not is not an argument for or against church buildings. Technically, organic believers are not against buildings for building the work of God. The Real Options ministry in the SF Bay Area has 3 facilities to help women choose life. I wish they had 30 buildings for this ministry.

The real issue is do special buildings help believers obey the Biblical instructions for church life? The answer to that is clearly no. They lead God's people to a horrible corruption of Biblical instructions for the gathering of God's people. The reality that 99.9% of buildings constructed for church life lead believers to a severely dumbed down, passive, spectating, and giving consuming form of life is undeniable - except for those who are so foolish to be confused by the facts.

We should not argue from silence, whether a lack of support for church buildings or a lack of instructions against church buildings.

The church, by God's design is not minimalist. It is designed for the maximum of resources to go beyond the givers. It is maximizing on the grace of giving. It refuses to be suckered into pooling the giving to buy goodies for the "givers". Organic church maximizes on serving the poor and sending the gospel to those who have no one to tell them. This is where the maximizing belongs.