How does the Church decide – 3

light of the worldIf I understand the elderly churchmen who meet weekly as the “SamHedrin” and if they follow my blog they will likely question my ecclesiology.  So I ought to say more carefully what I mean by “church” as in this title.

Notice that I am pondering the ways of “the Church.”  I’m not referring to institutionalized congregations or denominations and their ability to get good things done, but to the mythical and mystical entity known by Paul as the Body of Christ and the Temple of the Holy Spirit.

I’m also pondering what Jesus meant when he told his followers that they were the light of the world, a city set on a hill that could not be hid, and that they were the salt of the earth, but of little value, if it lost its taste, its purity.

smallIt seems to me that the founding Anabaptists understood how The Church decided. They relied on small groups meeting around the Bible in the spirit of Jesus to give and receive counsel to one another, and thus contribute to the direction of The Church.

I belong to at least two such small groups: Borderlands which meets weekly on Sunday morning and the SamHedrin which meets on Tuesday mornings.  I need these groups for my spiritual health. Membership is voluntary.  Neither group has a confession of faith, an elected chairperson or a budget. Their informality is descriptive and prescriptive.  Common understandings inform where and when they meet.

What is my role in these groups?  I give counsel, i.e. I speak my mind even though I know that I may be a minority of one.  That is the only right I have. I do not have the power to force anyone to do what I consider to be right and good.

More, I receive counsel, i.e. I listen to what others are saying.  Listening does not imply agreement.  I listen because I believe I may hear the voice of God (or Satan) when someone is speaking. Having received the counsel of others, I may be questioned about my response, but in reality, I am answerable only to myself (and to God).

informalSamHedrin and Borderlands pass no resolutions.  But they do enrich the church by their being, each being a part of how the church decides.  That is my belief, but I have no power to impose it on others.

to be continued


About Martin Lehman

I was born 92 years ago, the son of a Mennonite pastor and organic gardener in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. At age 10 I was baptized as a member of the Marion Mennonite Church. I own the "Old Fool" moniker because I want to walk the Jesus Way even though the world and much of the church takes me as a fool for doing so. In my life I have moved from being a young conservative to an elderly radical. I tell that story in My Faith Journey posted on my website.
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