Posted by: Veroni Kruger | November 5, 2009

The “Church” or the Bible?

ESSENTIAL ASPECTS OF THE CHURCH
This is an excerpt from a book on the Church that I am working on.  Let me know what you think

BUILT ON THE FOUNDATION OF SCRIPTURE

What is the highest authority we acknowledge?  I know what the glib answer is, but I challenge you to read this and answer the question honestly.

The true church will always answer to the description given in Ephesians 2.20.  It is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone.”

One of the key statements about the first church is found in Acts 2.42:   “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”  Among the four activities referred to in this description, the teaching of the apostles is given prominence by being mentioned first.  This shows how highly the first church valued the aspect of teaching.  Logically, this makes a lot of sense.  It determined both where the church had come from, and what the direction of the church would be.  As such it was essential that the body of teachings developed by the apostles would be disseminated throughout the growing church.  This led to the writing of what we now call the New Testament.

At the same time, the church already had the tradition of accepting the Hebrew writings we now call the Old Testament as authoritative and normative for the people of God.  After all, Jesus himself had referred to these writings as being authoritative!  No wonder then that the church came to the conclusion that there would be a certain body of writings that would be regarded as being the foundational and normative rule for life and faith.  That is, of course, what is called the Canon, or the Canonical Books.

We would probably all agree with these statements.  As Protestants we pride ourselves that we obey Scripture above all else.  As Evangelicals we proudly proclaim “Sola Scriptura!”

In reality we all run the risk of placing our own traditions above the authority of Scripture.  I was present one day when leaders in a well-known denomination whose leaders have always described the denomination as Bible-based were confronted with a principle in the Bible that they had neglected.  Their response was:  “That may be so, but that is not the path along which God has led this denomination all these years.”

A crucial question we need to continually ask ourselves is:  What is the highest authority we acknowledge?  Is it tradition, or is it the Lord, who gave us his commands in the Book we call the Bible?

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Responses

  1. Greetings Veroni! I appreciate your encouragement to build ministry, our lives and the church on Jesus Christ and His Word. Without that, there is nothing! We are building on sand. Nadenia and I just returned from Winslow, AZ where our Hopi pastors/lay leaders met for fellowship and discussion. Hosted by Irving/Vivian Poolheco (Hopi/Tewa) oldest Hopi pastors for this time. They are with the Brethren Assembly. About 50 Native/Non-Native pastors/leaders were there and two Hopi lay workers shared their testimony/message. Each shared how God intervened in their lives through events/dreams, etc. Both were baptized and now wanting to help in our Hopi church. Discussion led to how much Hopi beliefs/cultural ways – should have place in the Hopi Christians lives. I believe that our identity comes from Christ and some – if not all Hopi beliefs/cultural ways are subject to the Scriptures. Much like what Paul talks about in his NT testimony. Acts 14:15-18 is a message to our Hopi people and the scripture is clear about who were are to worship and what to turn away from. So scriptures help define and clarify what the Good News is (Jesus) & must be to our people. As you know, the OT has not been translated into Hopi language and I have told Irving about the need for teaching the lay workers how to study the Bible and begin work on the translation of OT. We need a follow-up meeting where I hope to share more of the vision with my Hopi brothers. Please continue your prayers for us and this big need. Blessing – Loloma, Elmer

  2. Dear Uncle Veroni,

    This reminded me of a interesting blog I read by our old pastor in ethiopia, thought you may like to have a look at it:

    http://onesimusonline.blogspot.com/2010/02/we-protestants-have-problem.html

    Jonathan van Aswegen


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