It seems to me that churches desperately want to display the same certitude that Paul and other NT writers evidently display in their writings. Paul seemingly knew exactly where to draw the lines in terms of heresy, so why shouldn't we? Paul seemed to have many clear cut answers, so why shouldn't we? (I realize that Ro. 14 would be an exception, even for top-dowChurcheses, although which categories fall into this passage is a matter of debate.) Overall, they read and preach with this mindset: "Here's the scripture which _obviously_ means such and such, believe it and don't argue about what it says [which really means, don't argue with my interpretation]".
Two questions. First, does the NT support such an approach? Iggy, you wrote: "I also agree with Paul that there must be some division in the Church to tell who has sound doctrine and who does not". Could you expand on this? Is a dialogue format of understanding "truth", through the Spirit, shown in the NT? Would 1 Co 12-14 perhaps be an example? Secondly, does the fact that we no longer have apostles make things different in our day? In other words, is dialogue, the role of the Holy Spirit, and the priest-hood of all believers that much more essential in our day?
I want say first off that I want the Relational model to be THE model yet, I must say even within the Relational model there is to be some recognized authority.
Now, with that being said, i beleive that is up to the community of belivers to decide how that authority is plaid out as they see and understand scripture. I believe there are many RIGHT models and only a few wrong ones. But again that is my stinky opinion.
Paul of course was under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit as he wrote and given "authority" (oh that "A" word) by God to preach the Gospel to the gentiles. So we will find a wonderful and colorful mixture of Jew, Gentile, ex temple prostitutes, and such all joining and learning how to fellowship under the New Covenant, which I am sure many had no idea, there was an Old Covenant. And learning also new morals and ethics and many other ways to live with each other under this incredible thing we call God's Grace and the Body of Christ.
Here are some disjointed thoughts about discussion and arguments.
- Paul gave warnings: Col 2:4 (be sure to read these all in context my dear brothers and sisters).
- We are told to not have anything to do with "stupid" arguments, now lets argue over the definition of stupid! LOL! An argument for the sake quarrelling is just stupid and wrong! and I better not have anyone disagree with that! (2 Tim 2)
- More on the "stupid arguments" Paul teaches that we are not avoid controversy and arguing over genealogies and such, why? I think with these things so much is up to conjecture. Titus 3:9
- Paul said that there must be heresy amongst us to be able to tell who has the truth. At least if one reads the KJV. Now in the NIV it says "differences" that right there makes exclusivism just plain wrong! If we have differences without discussion then how would anyone know? This is a way to be able to spot those who need "correcting" and also allow for helping in the spiritual growth of people.1 Cor 11:19
Now about a model.
In 1 Corinthians there was problems, why? Because there were people at that church! These people as I said were Jews, gentiles, temple prostitutes and such so you can only imagine how that would all mix together. There would be so many different backgrounds and stories and thinking and opinions and... You get the idea. We are called a family. In fact Jesus called us His brothers and said those who do the will of His Father were His mother, brothers, and sisters, we are family. We are even more. We are joined together lets say as Adam was "placed" in the garden, a type of Christ in the OT we are now literally placed in the Body of Christ and have become one in Christ in that way. The body has an authority, the Head...The same with us Jesus being our Head. If He lives then so much more His Body, so to me that shows the "institutional" model may not be Biblically accurate. The body inter-relationally interacts with itself. If part is ill the rest of the body suffers and also finds ways to deal and correct itself to heal itself, usually this is regulated in the brain, which is in the Head. I think often in the institutional model we lose out and not let Jesus through the Holy Spirit minister as Husband and the True Head He is. This to me shows a lack of faith. As the Body of Christ we need to learn how to trust Jesus more and not lean on our ideals of "authority".
Authority is not bad, but think about this. All of us, even the lost are under the Authority of God. Demons are under His authority, as all creation is. So, the issue is what makes us as "Christians" above and transcend this authority? Grace and Mercy but most of all our Relationship with the Father through Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is in the relationship authority is not a real issue. We learn to live and love God's Life and Love. This is so much more than just living under authority.