House Church

A few weeks ago, our Holy Father gave one of his Wednesday Audiences on St. Clement of Rome. In doing so, he quoted what I found to be a difficult-to-understand passage from the saints’ letter to the church at Corinth. In doing a brief web search to try to understand what St. Clement was getting at in this difficult passage, I came across a web site (click on “what is a church?”) with a particular “angle” on the Church Fathers which is of particular interest to me. What is specifically of interest to me is that the folks here opining on the Fathers are part of a larger movement called the House Church Movement. This particular group of people seeks to return the church to the ways of the early church, primarily through meeting for fellowship on Sundays, as their name suggests, in their home. With this belief comes also a notion that the structure of the church should be very flat (i.e., democratic, non-hierarchical). I don’t doubt that there is much more to it than that, but I know little about it. Of course, these groups typically have to posit some sort of mass apostasy at the end of the first century, as the church that they think they find in the New Testament (i.e., democratic, non-hierarchical) looks nothing like the Church that emerged from the first century. Hence…mass apostasy.

I briefly toyed with the idea of fisking the entire series on the Church Fathers, but then realized that the size of this task would end up being too large. In any case, what emerges, even from the most cursory reading of this author’s thoughts on the Fathers, is the sheer improbability of it all. And the colossal hubris. After all, at the end of the day, the bottom line reality for this guy is that we, 2000 years later, armed solely with our pocket bibles, with geographical and cultural barriers to boot, know better how the apostles intended the church to be than their actual disciples. You know, the people who spoke, worshipped and suffered with the Apostles. Or, that the people the Apostles entrusted the church to were actually cruelly wicked (or amazingly stupid), insofar as they immediately changed everything the Apostles had intended. And unilaterally erased all the evidence of the protestations against their apostasy. Oh, except for that pesky verse in 1 Corinthians 14 which they forgot to eradicate from their pocket scrolls.

I asked Jimmy Akin about that verse (v. 26) a couple of years ago regarding how it might jive with the idea of a liturgy being the primary means of worship in the 1st century. His response makes sense. Certainly there is insufficient evidence in this verse, and scripture in general, to ascertain how precisely the early church worshiped. All the more reason to trust those who actually spoke with and were appointed by the Apostles.

But I guess that would lead to certain unsavory conclusions. Musn’t go there!

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~ by Rob on April 10, 2007.

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