~ 24 June 2004 ~

Lone Ranger Redux

It looks like while I was away, Mac Swift responded on his blog to my post dealing with the unintended arrogance of Lone Ranger Christianity. As you may recall, I took to task Christians who decided they had no need for church, citing arrogance as one of the (often unintended) outcomes of such a view. This from believers who think that their walk is above associating themselves with “lesser Christians.”

Mr. Swift, a self-proclaimed churchless Christian, disagrees:

The mistake is in inaccurately labeling these churches as being part of the body of Christ. If the church was partly filled with satanists, would you consider them part of the body of Christ as well? Church organisations should never be considered a legitimate part of the body of Christ, because the building and its hierarchy do not always reflect the spiritual makeup of its membership. Many members in the church, including the leadership may in truth not be a legitimate part of the body of Christ. Jesus had warned before that not everyone who calls him, “LORD, LORD” or in other words, not everyone who professes to be Christian will make it into heaven, but only those who do the will of his Father.

Bridges’ moronic reasoning basically tells us that if a church was being run by a pastor who is in reality a satanist, the church would still be a part of the body of Christ. How stupid is this? We wouldn’t be able to call the church run by Jim Jones evil if we followed this train of logic to its absurd conclusion.

It is individuals that define the church, not the other way around…

I’d like to correct this last sentence first. It is Christ who defines the church, Mr. Swift, not individuals. The New Testament pattern is one of churches comprised of those chosen by God unto salvation. Problems that occurred in these churches were addressed by the New Testament epistles to correct errors of the churches, not to disperse them.

As for the previous points, I’ve reread my post, and I’ve yet to see how my supposed “moronic reasoning” leads to such a conclusion. To answer Mr. Swift’s own question “How stupid is this?” I say, “very stupid indeed.” I’ve never known a satanist to confess Christ as Lord. Furthermore, a pastor does not constitute a church. The church is the body of believers. This is not some radical new idea, it is a biblical idea. The ekklesia are those who confess Christ. True there is a church invisible and a church visible—there will be some impostors, we are called to be the church nonetheless.

The idea that all churches are apostate sounds remarkably like the argument Mormons use. Mormons claim that all churches became apostate shortly after the death of the apostles. Throughout the ages the “true church” did not exist until Joseph Smith founded it anew.

I don’t think Mr. Swift is waiting to found the church anew, but I do think he has distanced himself from biblical Christianity in distancing himself from church. If there are no biblical churches in his area, why does he not seek to plant a biblically-based church? Why would one rather proudly proclaim his independence from the body?

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8 Comments:

  1. Bob Waters » 24 June 2004:

    Quite right, Jared. Our friend the Lone Ranger Christian is a Donatist- a follower of the ancient heresy which defines the Church and the efficacy of the Word and Sacraments by the character of the pastor.

    According to the Augsburg Confession, one of the foundational documents of the Reformation and the basic confession of my own Lutheran tradition, the Church is defined by the presence of the Word and the Sacraments. It is what it does with these that publicly confesses the Gospel, or fails to do so. The question here is what a Lone Ranger Christian is confessing when he essentially says by his behavior that he doesn’t need the proclaimed Word, or the Sacraments in any form.

  2. matt h. » 24 June 2004:

    While your reasoning is apparently “moronic” (who knew huh?), Mac’s is simply unbiblical. The NT has no concept of a churchless Christian… much like no concept of an unbaptized believer. Not to say that either is efficacious in salvation, but in the NT framework it seems inconceivable that a true Christian would not be baptized (or desire baptism) and not be in covenant with a local assembly of fellow Christians.

  3. matt h. » 24 June 2004:

    How about this for an incendiary remark – I would have serious doubts about whether an individual has been regenerated by the Spirit if they are unwilling to be obedient in baptism and church membership.

  4. Ochuk » 24 June 2004:

    Ah, I see you have met the Merry Mac Swift. We went toe to toe before… isn’t it fun.

  5. Mac Swift » 24 June 2004:

    One, Matt and Bob are presumptuous knuckleheads. Two, Ochuk, don’t make me come over there. 😉

    Three, you said “…there will be some impostors, we are called to be the church nonetheless” So are impostors part of the church then? This easily contradicts your earlier assertions.

    Four, I never said ALL churches were apostate. I believe the majority of them are (at least in America), due to the “great fallingaway” foretold in Scripture, but I never say all. I’m sure you would like to believe that since it makes it easier for you to counterargue a point I never made, but such deception doesn’t indicate a “regenerated” mind to me, as Calvinists love to say.

  6. Bob Waters » 26 June 2004:

    Oh, I’d say both are efficacious in salvation, Matt- insofar as baptism is God’s deed, not ours (“born again of water and the Spirit…” “through the washing of water through the Word…” “…the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit”, and the proclaimed Word is that thorugh which God grants faith “…faith comes through hearing…”

    The Bible would say so, too!

  7. Bob Waters » 26 June 2004:

    Oh, and BTW…if you’d stop calling people
    “asswipes” and “knuckleheads,” and content yourself with responding to their arguments, your own argument for the healthiness of your spiritual lifestyle would be a bit stronger.

  8. Jason Doty » 2 July 2004:

    The guy wants to argue an issue about the church and still uses unacceptable language. Is there any doubt where he stands? Perhaps he is caught up with physical buildings and does not realize that the church is not a structure or even the group of people who choose to meet in that building. It is a body of believers IN CHRIST. His own example of a Satanist in the church is oxymoronic like Jared showed. Good try Mr. Swift, but gracefully know how to admit defeat. You might consider something else too… Go to church! This will help you get your facts straight should there be a next time.

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