— Dr. Hart, No Ecclesiology, No Identity.
Author Donald Miller admits that he doesn’t worship God by singing and that he connects with God elsewhere. At best, this is an uphelpful go-ahead for substance starved millennials to disregard gathered-worship. At worst, it its unbiblical and dangerous. It is my feeling it leans towards the latter.
Denny Burk has written everything I’d hope to say on this, complete with many of the same verses (and many more) than I’d planned to cite. Please take the time to read what he has to say. Denny calls Miller’s method a “recipe for spiritual suicide,” and I agree.
Miller’s words reveal what happens when the subjective experience of the individual is made the climax of Christianity. Paul wrote the epistles in order to rebuke and exhort believers not to forsake the Christian faith and makes it clear that the center of Christian worship is the gathering of believers in a local church, the physical bride of Christ. Where the Gospel is preached, the sacraments tasted and poured, and hymns and Psalms sung — there we find the Christ who follows us into our vocation and lives outside of corporate worship. Christ died for this church, that she would be redeemed and made beautiful.
There is no mention of small group Bible studies or “quasi-intentional spiritual communities” in the New Testament. When a gathering is mentioned, it is the Church.
My good friend Scott put it better than I ever could:
There is no conception of “belong to the Church and not the church” in NT Xianity. If you belong to Christ, you belong to a local assembly.
— Scott Corbin (@scottacorbin) February 3, 2014
I would be remiss if I did not quote Machen in Christianity & Liberalism, whose words could not ring more true:
“Christian experience is rightly used when it helps to convince us that the events narrated in the New Testament actually did occur; but it can never enable us to be Christians whether the events occurred or not. It is a fair flower, and should be prized as a gift of God. But cut it from its root in the blessed Book, and it soon withers away and dies.”
I’m happy to clarify and answer any questions in the comments. I reserve the right to delete and moderate as I see fit.
There is an exact parallel between Dr. Martin Luther and Dr. Machen. Dr. Machen was the Luther of the twentieth century. Some have criticized his method; his method was logical because it was Biblical.
Too long have evangelicals paid the bills of baptized infidels! What care they how much evangelicals speak of the Blood, the Book, the Blessed Hope, as long as they get their fat salaries as professors, secretaries, bishops, or what not? But just begin to pull the purse strings shut on them, and see what happens!
Dr. Machen and his associates were following the Bible method. 2 Cor. 6:17 “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord.”
2 John 11 tells us that fellowship or paying money to such agencies or men who do not preach God’s Christ is to partake of their evil deeds.
The man who starts out to reform any of the great apostate denominations today is just deceived. Five years ago we challenged a man, who has since compromised with Belial to gain position in Methodism, to give us one example of a denomination or faction gone over to apostasy that ever came back to orthodoxy. That challenge has never been successfully met, not because of that man’s lack of ability but because there is no evidence.
[*TDPH: Disputing with this author, there are at least two or three examples at hand. In recent times, the Southern Baptist denomination and the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. And in the 19th-century, the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.]
Clearly, Dr. Machen was right. Witness wherever you are. Then if wicked men rise up and usurp God’s place in the church, there is nothing left but separation—like Luther, like Machen! Oh, God, give us another!
A Methodist Tribute to JGM – This Day In Presbyterian History