What Makes a Church?
Dead Ends and Live Options
 
I. What Gathers the Church?
The practice of procession
"Wandering" Israel (Ex. 40:36-38, Num. 2, 10:11-28)
Bringing the Ark of the Covenant (2 Sam. 6)
Torah procession (hakkafot) in the synagogue (Orach Chaim 149:1, cf. Josh. 6)?
Triumphal Entry? (Rodney Clapp, A Peculiar People)
Roman imperial parades
Procession helps indicate what gathers the Church
 
II. What Makes and Mediates the Church? Dead Ends
1. The circumcision party: Works of the Law (Acts 11:2, Gal. 2:12-14)
2. Gnostics: The "secret knowledge" of the elite (cf. Acts 8:18-24)
3. Donatists: Moral purity of leaders (cf. 1 John 2:18-20; Rev. 2-3)
4. Social clubs and mystery religions: The members themselves (Acts 17:16-21)
 
III. What Makes and Mediates the Church? Three Live Options
(see Lesslie Newbigin, The Household of God)
1. Apostolic succession, a formal connecting over space and time
Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican/Episcopal
Worship begins with a processing organic, sacramental hierarchy
Effect: Stress on formal structure, intolerance of ecclesiological difference
2. The Word preached (and sacraments rightly administered)
Lutheran, (Reformed, Wesleyan)
Worship begins with gospel proclamation and response
Effect: Marks of the Church come from fidelity to Scripture
Effect: Doctrinal statements and schisms multiply
3. The Holy Spirit's powerful presence ("this is that," Acts 2:16)
Pentecostal, Baptist? (And the others too?)
Worship begins with inspired praise
Effect: Indifference to polity, openness to innovation and historical heresies