“Church” can be confusing
What is Church? This is one of those questions to which the answer seems obvious until one starts to think seriously about the answer. Think about it… what is your answer? That building on the corner with the steeple? The body of Christ? All believers down through the ages? The people you fellowship with? All of the above? While each of these have some measure of truth depending on the context; the English word “church” bears scant resemblance to the Greek word it represents.
My last post was considerably longer than usual and generated several suggestions that I try to keep the length of my posts to a more manageable level. Unfortunately I am trying to cover topics or points of view, which are often misunderstood or poorly represented in today’s world. As a result they deserve in-depth coverage.
A case in point is today’s topic: “What is Church?” In order to do this subject justice, and keep my readers happy, (is that possible?;-) I am going to cover this as a multi-part series. In today’s post I am going to cover the origin of our English word, and introduce the Greek word which the New Testament uses: the word ekklesia (ἐκκλησία)
Those of you who have read my book know that the meaning of certain New Testament words seem to be obscured by transliteration as opposed to translation. Transliteration is simply rewriting a word from one language, using the spelling and pronunciation norms of another. Some common examples of transliterated words in the New Testament are baptism, apostle, and Christ. The Greek words baptizo, apostolos, and christos mean dip, immerse or wash; ambassador or emissary; and king, respectively. As you can see, transliteration does nothing to help a reader understand the author’s intent.
The English word church does not seem to bear any resemblance to ekklesia. As a result we might take comfort in the fact that at least it does not seem to be a transliteration, but we would be wrong. As we will see shortly Continue reading
The time has finally come to address The Problem with Christ.
The Problem with Christ
In recent posts I have detailed a point of view which was clearly the position of the early Church. This position is often expressed in the New Testament, but is strangely absent from the teaching of most churches today. I have even alluded to the fact that modern translations consistently make choices that seem to obscure the very possibility of even seeing the position the early church held, in the Bible.
While many hold that the first followers of Jesus were in error on this point, I have found no church historians who deny that what I have presented was indeed their position. Please let me know if you can show me a source I have missed.
We have heard our third-century brother, Origen explain why the church refused to participate in politics because of its allegiance to its King Jesus. You have read how Paul expected his readers to give up their nationality to be members of Jesus’ new nation. Your have read how Jesus said the “royal power of God” was being taken away from the nation of Israel and being given to another nation. You heard in the last post: “…the rock is Peter’s confession that Jesus is the “christos,” which we now understand means king.
Whoops, I goofed! I failed to realize that while this proposition has been stated several times in the course of this blog—I have never defended the proposition, nor given you any significant reason to believe it. Now is the time to change that. For the past two years I have been working on a book to communicate this idea clearly and convincingly. That book was released as a Kindle edition about two months ago. After several revisions the print edition has just been released.
The book, The Problem with Christ; Why we don’t understand Jesus, His enemies, or the early Church, is an integral part of the ministry of this blog. While it is possible to understand the book without reading the RadicalFish blog; it will be difficult to fully understand the blog without reading the book. Continue reading
In Are You a Radical Fish? Part 1, I asked the question: why did Rome find it necessary to persecute the primitive Church? I pointed out that the Roman Empire was very diverse and accepting when it came to matters of religion, and made a habit of incorporating the faiths of conquered peoples into their own.
We should remember that even the Jews, as long as they were not engaged in active rebellion, were granted religious freedom under the Caesars. What made the primitive Church different – what do you think? Why did Rome repeatedly, at different times and places, decide to persecute Christians – or crucify Jesus, for that matter?
The time has come for me to share my answer…. Continue reading
For the purposes of this blog, a Radical Fish is simply someone committed to following Jesus of Nazareth, as revealed in the New Testament – no matter what the cost. We use as our model His first followers, and we recognize in them a pattern of thought and behavior that we don’t often see in the world today. Continue reading