Sunday, October 18, 2009

We must re-look at what is called 'Church'

“Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. (Matthew 10:21-22)

Gary North, in his book, 'Baptized Patriarchalism:The Cult of the Family,' points out that Rousas John Rushdoony eventually abandoned Calvinism, and embraced non-denominationism, and in the process became a Patriarchalist. Gary North argues that Jesus' strongest words of condemnation were against familism and patriarchalism. Elsewhere Jesus said, "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple." (Luke 14:26); and also, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me." (Matthew 10:34-37)

In fact, this is not just a New Testament position. It was also God's position in the Old Testament as well: “If your brother, the son of your mother, your son or your daughter, the wife of your bosom, or your friend who is as your own soul, secretly entices you, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which you have not known, neither you nor your fathers, of the gods of the people which are all around you, near to you or far off from you, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth, you shall not consent to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him or conceal him; but you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. And you shall stone him with stones until he dies, because he sought to entice you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. So all Israel shall hear and fear, and not again do such wickedness as this among you" (Deuteronomy 13:6-11).

Many Conservatives and Evangelicals have fallen into the trap of embracing Patriarchalism, chanting the mantras: "Family first," or "the family is the basic unit of society," etc. This is not so. The basic unit of society is the Church:

"Jesus did not identify the family as the central institution in society. Instead, He identified it as the central institutional threat to the kingdom of God. Loyalty to the family rather than to Him, He said, is the great temptation. We must resist it." (North pp. 1-2)

"If Christian fathers possess lawful authority over the sacraments merely on the basis of their legal status as heads of households, then so do widows and divorcees who are heads of households. The new patriarchalism becomes the new matriarchalism. Marriage becomes the means of an implicit ordination of women as second in command. By defining the central institutional manifestation of the church as the Christian marital family rather than the adopted family of God – the institutional church – the new patriarchalism is theologically incapable of
resisting matriarchalism. The ordination of women is an extension of the marriage bond. A widow or a woman whose husband has deserted her has already been ordained." (North p. 4)

"...the family is not the central institution of society in the sense of giving direction and vision
to society. It is central only in the sense of having what might be called the crucial swing vote. It allies itself with either church or state. Whichever institution seems to offer healing – earthly salvation – will gain the support of the family. The family cannot independently offer social healing. It looks to external authorities to do this. The family is called upon to fund those agencies that promise social healing, either through the tithe or taxes. Healing must be funded, and the family is the source of this funding. But the state’s offer is a false one." (North p.7)

The house church movement rose out of asserted patriarchalism. We need to re-visit what the Bible teaches is church. Church must be centred around the marks of covenantal relationship, not familial relationship. If church is blood-family based (as opposed to adopted-family based), then it has the potential for Jesus' strongest condemnation.

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