November 2, 2006

“Church” Funeral

Posted in church, culture, religion, scripture, songs, theology at 5:23 pm by Jerry

There are two different understandings of what the church is — the conventional and the spiritual. But for now, let’s talk about the conventional.

What if the last church building became a museum, tourist spot, or was torn down, and the word “church” was retired (even though there were still believers who got together as friends). What would happen if the word “church” was only used to describe these museums or tourist spots? What if people never went-to-church anymore?

Would there be some sort of memorial or funeral for the conventional church? Would historians write about “the life and death of the church”? What would people say to each other as they mourned the death of the church? Now, when I say “mourned,” I don’t mean ‘hope to build another one.’ I mean mourning in the sense that people would be acknowledging the loss of something they were attached to that was ready to die. “It was time,” they would say.

So what would people say to each other? Would they reminisce the good times while overlooking the bad? Would they talk about the failing health of the “church” and how its days were numbered? Would the last generation of “church goers” tell stories to their grandchildren about what it was like to “go-to-church”? Would they talk about the sermons? or the singing? Sunday School? a choir? Youth Group? the prayers? the liturgy? where who sat in the pews? which ones slept through the services? which kids cried? which youths got pulled out for being a disturbance?

And what would happen to the spiritual church if the conventional church was dead? They obviously wouldn’t stop developing relationships. They wouldn’t stop learning from each other’s spiritual lives. The bible wouldn’t be ignored. Some may still consider it inerrant and infallible. It would be talked about, studied in numerous contexts like the literature setting of a book club, or a studious exploration of a text in a history class, or in an ethics class exploring morality in ancient texts. The death of the “church” wouldn’t change the use of the bible, would it?

But what about missions and the fundraising involved? I suppose, any socially conscious person who happens to be a believer would still be helping the poor through various organizations, or by themselves without the organizations. Financially speaking, there would be no bills to keep up a “church” and its staff. It’s not the “church” that’s expected to “Live long and prosper,” it’s the people, right? But then, that phrase was from the anti-emotional Vulcan “Spock,” not the bible. But the bible does say something similar to it, doesn’t it? Only I think it’s talking about the health-and-wealth of the spiritual church’s immortality. From what I’ve read, there’s no “Prosperity Gospel” for the conventional church.

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And this brings me to the question of mortality for the spiritual church. Can it die? Many believers may say, “As long as the Holy Spirit is working on earth, there will always be a spiritual church.” But what if the Holy Spirit chooses not to? It can choose not to, right? It has its own freewill, doesn’t it? And for those of you believers who also believe in human “freewill,” you don’t need the Holy Spirit to work on earth anymore if you have a record of what the Holy Spirit has already done, do you? People can read up on the Holy Spirit’s past work, and then use their freewill to “come-to-the-Lord”.

Sometimes it seems like the spiritual church is, in fact, dying. So many sicknesses (from what I’ve heard from others and seen for myself) . Like Jackie Mason says…

It’s no longer a matter of staying healthy. It’s a question of finding a sickness you like.

But are these symptoms a matter of a developing senility? Or are they just something the spiritual church caught like a cold or a flu?

[Note: Please understand, though I’m questioning the immortality of the Church here, I’m not questioning the immortality of God. I’ll leave that to God’s divine self (who may know our future but not His/Her own). I admit, I do wonder if any life is absolutely immortal, but I don’t see myself putting a lot of thought into it. I’d rather enjoy what life there is, that exists today, wherever there is life, including in the spiritual church.]

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