Hitchhiking on chapter 3 - it's apparent that the form of the building has indeed influenced the function within over the last several centuries. Structure gives birth to structure. There are those who strongly believe that the antithesis to structure is chaos and disorder. I've met them - they proffer their conviction with vigor. The reading of this chapter made me realize how much that notion is based on a mind-set from a very long history of cultural influence with fear and the obsession to control. There is a governing template by which to operate and you dare not mess with it. It can be and has been reformed (Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, Hobbs, Finney), but never revolutionized or better stated revitalized.
It makes me sad and somewhat frustrated to know that many will read these words (either here or by obtaining the whole book) and will hardly be moved to take any risks to allow the Church (ekklasia) to function as God really intended. As I have witnessed, many will consider the challenges and attempt to adapt a vague principle or two that will slighty tweak what they have done, are doing and will do - - until they drop. It is appropriate to quote the final words of this chapter.
You can scour your Bible from beginning to end, and you will never find
anything that remotely resembles our order of worship. This is because the first
century Christians knew no such thing. In fact the Protestant order of worship
has about as much biblical support as does the Roman Catholic Mass. Both have
few points of contact with the New Testament.
The meetings of the early church were marked by every-member functioning,
spontaneity, freedom, vibrancy, and open participation (see, for example 1
Corinthians 14:1-33 and Hebrews 10:25). The first-century church meeting was a
fluid gathering, nor a static ritual. And it was often unpredictable, unlike the
contemporary church service.
Contemporary Christianity still reflects this ideology. Pragmatism is unspiritual, not just because it encourages ethical considerations to be secondary, but because it depends on techniques rather than on God to produce the desired effects...
...Unfortunately, pragmatism ('if it works let's do it"), not biblicism or spirituality,
governs the activities of many present-day churches. (Many "seeker sensitive"
churches have excelled at following in Finney's footsteps.) Pragmatism is harmful because it teaches "the end justifies the means." If the end is considered "holy," just
about any "means" are acceptable.
The philosophy of pragmatism opens the door for human manipulation and a
complete reliance upon oneself rather than upon God. Note that there is a
monumental difference between well-motivated humans working for God in their own strength, wisdom, and power versus God working through humans.
...the Protestant order of worship strangles the headship of Jesus Christ.
The entire service is directed by one person. You are limited to the knowledge,
gifting, and experience 0f one member of the body - the pastor. Where is the
freedom for our Lord Jesus to speak through His body at will?
Granted, Christ may be able to express Himself through one or two members
of the church - usually the pastor and the music leader. But this is a very
limited expression. The Lord is stifled from manifesting Himself through the
other members of the body. Consequently, the Protestant liturgy cripples the
body of Christ.
Perhaps the only sure way to thaw out God's frozen people is to make a
dramatic break with the Sunday morning ritual. May we not be found guilty of our
Lord's bone-rattling words: "Full well do you reject the commandment of God,
that you may keep your tradition."