Sunday, September 14, 2008

Personal vs. Ecclesiastical Relationships

I have been in a discussion with another blogger about the concept of separation. Based on his interpretation of Romans 16:17 and 2 Thessalonians 3:6,7-14, this blogger has recommended that I must leave my current congregation that believes that baptism is the point of salvation.

I am working through this matter of baptism myself, and would prefer not to get into a discussion on that as I am already inundated with info and up way to late every night continuing the study. I will post my thoughts for discussion, once I figure out what my thoughts are. :)

However, in this discussion, where initially I had focused on a dilemma of separation regarding a friend's marriage, it dawned me that if I were to truly follow this man's understanding of the scripture, that I would have to leave my husband.

He explained that I had no knowledge of the difference in applying this doctrine of separation to personal and ecclesiastical relationships.

I basically said he was right, I have no such knowledge. And I asked him to share those differences. But he decided to cease discussion with me.

Is there such a difference in applying this or any doctrine to a personal vs. an ecclesiastical relationship?

And what of those relationships that are both personal and ecclesiastical (which for me, are almost all of them!)??

There is no reason to listen if I cannot hear.
Just Another Voice,


karen said...

God is good, He brought us love and freedom.
Sounds like this blogger is bound in legalism. Go your own way, Missy. Surely, it is straight into His arms.

Lynne said...

well, my bible's full of verses about loving each other through differences! In my experience (and this is only personal experience) the time to leave a church is when those differences impact your ability to connect to God in that context, when things that are said or done publically in the service (not private opinions of a few members) make you feel you're not talking about the same God. But that's just my journey

mibman said...

I'm more interested in the baptism thing ... but hey.

Not sure what you're at odds about. I certainly wouldn't equate my affiliation w/ any particular fellowship w/ that of a marriage. That certainly isn't biblical. I might leave a fellowship based on a number of reasons. Genuinely, you can ask Karen -- I am finding more-&-more instances whereby others give value to things I just never considered. Whatcha mean, Missy? Are you saying you feel it is sin (equal w/ divorce) to leave some given fellowship? - tim

Missy said...

Thanks, Karen. I do hope it is to His arms!

Missy said...

Lynne, where did you get that Bible? I want it. :)

I think I agree, and it is my opinion that scripture does too, but I do try to listen to what people say and dig.

Another Voice said...

Tim, yeah, a lot of people would like to fix my doctrine, but God's working on it with me! I got a Bible, and I can read.

I believe what Jesus taught about divorce applies to much more than marriage. Jesus said when those vows are broken by unfaithfulness, sure you have every right to end it. God is merciful to that pain which is often irreparable. But you don't HAVE to end it. Just like God has every right to turn away from us, his creation, that has denied and despised Him, betrayed and replaced Him. But, He chooses not to. It's always a choice to love and continue to love.

I think I have the right, and maybe sometimes a responsibility to leave someone or a congregation I disagree with, but I don't HAVE to.

I see that scripture tells me to love and submit to all people - not just my husband - even if it does specifically say my husband it also says my church, my neighbor, my government, etc. I believe the church is a committed relationship - not in the same way as my marriage, but a committment nonetheless. I do not take separation from those I love lightly.

Of course, the original discussion never got that deep. I was told it is a mandate of scripture that I MUST separate from those who teach this belief. My husband teaches this belief. My argument was that surely, scripture does not intend that I separate from him, and he agreed. So this "mandate" as he saw has to be selectively applied and therefore is not a "mandate." In this case, it seemed evident to me that this understanding would warrant a little more study.

What I am realizing is that many, no, MOST people who attend a church are not in love with those they attend in the same way I am. I am willing, desparate even to work to compromise or at least reconciliate with those I disagree with. This is how my ability to love AND my doctrine is sharpened. If everyone agrees with me, or I refuse to be open about my differences, I and/or my church will become dull.

Ultimately my alliance is to the Lord - but would you not agree that the Lord's chosen alliance is ultimately to the Church?

Another Voice said...

Talk about a split personality! Sorry for the flip-flopping blogger ID.

karen said...

The bible doesn't say submit; that word is actually inserted in the Ephesians verse (about "wives, submit to your husband....) I believe you're referencing. Just is not there in the Greek.
Huppotasso means to support; the only way it means "submit" is in the manner of giving something to someone: I submit this form to you for your attention.
It also means to attach. Papyri contemporary to NT times have used it in the context of attaching a seal to something.
It also means to "come up under" to lift up, as the support of a bridge.
Think about it. If we're all submitting to one another, we're not getting anything done. But, if we're attaching ourselves to one another, hanging together, supporting each other, coming up under one another to lift much more beautiful is that as a model of Christian life?

You, Missy, are a model of that, because of you said that you can choose to STAY, instead of go. Very nice.

mibman said...

your stock rises! As if you cared, eh?

Missy - that's why I say you rock ... because ... you rock. No ... I'm completely w/ you. Too many Christians see their choices in fellowship, as if picking a 'flavor' of fellowship; as opposed to binding w/ believers. After moving to VA, we believed God was leading us to become part of an all-black fellowhip (AMEZ - African Episcopal Methodist Zion). We kept thinking of the Church at Ephesus, in New Test. If you lived in Ephesus ... that's where you had fellowship. If you had issues w/ other folks there ... you worked them out or you didn't attend fellowship. Good heavens the myriad reasons Christians jump fellowship ... ship (that didn't come out as crafty as I'd hoped)... is insane. So much of it whittles down to personal issues. We just never really digest the "collective" nature of His body. The big "us" ... "we" ... i.e., we sink ... we swim. Whether we are smart enough to realize that we're drowning without each other or not.

No way ... you go girlfriend. I love your motives. Love your commitment. Love your hesitation to just 'jump' cuz there appears to be a difference.

So put that in your incense burner & stoke it.

Make no mistake, if there is a time to part fellowship ... then there's a time. Again, I wouldn't equate it w/ same as marriage. But it should be no easy decision, or one based just on preference, etc.

BTW - I never said anything about fixing anyones doctrine. I would be the last person equipped for such a task. I just said, it was more interesting. :-) - tim

Rose~ said...

Hi Missy,
You and I are thinking about similar things lately!
I was pondering this after I saw what Lou said to you the other day: "there are biblical principles that apply to personal and/or ecclesiastical separation."

I agree with him. I think ecclesiastically that we are supposed to separate from others if there is such disagreement that there can't be peace. (But not in marriage. We're better off to fight than quit, within those sacred bonds.)

If I were going to a church where there was something that I thought was just so wrong, I could not have peace, and I do believe I would need to separate. On the other hand, I do believe in tolerance and in sticking to your fellowship as long as you possibly can have peace about doing so.

Back to "this man's" comment:
"there are biblical principles that apply to personal and/or ecclesiastical separation."

That really got me thinking about the different categories.

1. Church

2. Marriage
3. Family members (mother father sister brother etc)
4. Friends and neighbors
5. Internet friends
6. Authors of books in my home

Does someone from his very particular school of thought see these biblical principles of separation applying only to number 1? Or do they apply in a gradated fashion once I skip over #2 because they don't apply to marriage?

And do they apply differently to non-believers than to believers? (I know the answer to that one.)
(I have a really weird story about that one that I think I may share on my blog)

Do you see what I am asking? I wonder if there would be some sense to it if I arrange my list in a different way.

When he demanded that I remove myself from my group blog if I was going to be obedient to the Lord in separation, I brought this up to him: that a blog is not a church. I might not find myself in the same church as a Presbyterian (me being a Baptist) but I could quite comfortably be in internet "fellowship" with a Presbyterian (or anyone else I could peacefully participate with) and feel completely fine about it - happy even.

He did not let that reasoning stand. But now he says differently, it appears. There are different applications of this thing. Although maybe I am missing something about how the principles of separation apply to friends and neighbors and internet friends... and even authors whose books I read.

What do you think?

BTW - If you want to really blow your mind, start thinking about primary... and secondary.. and tertiary separation. Like this: secondary separation means that you have to separate from those who may agree with you completely in doctrine, but.... .... they do not separate from someone who does not agree with you on doctrine. See what I am saying? It is an interesting subject. My former pastor wrote a great book on it.

Thanks, Missy. for letting me comment.

Another Voice said...

Karen, we are kin! That is precisely the meaning I'm intending when I use the word "submit" in this context. I forget that not everyone sees it that way.

Thanks for the encouraging words. You know I need them. :)

Another Voice said...

Thanks, Tim for the cheering section. :)

I didn't word that well, did I? I'm not quite ready to open up the can'o'baptism because I will get a flock of fury to "fix" me. That should make my meaning clearer? I think there are things in scripture that call for obedience for whomever and whenever "the bell tolls." I think this subject is one of them, and I haven't really met two that think exactly the same. I'm just leary of being screamed at while I try to work through it (not by you but by the general trolling public).

Another Voice said...

Thanks Rose for stopping by with a word or two! :)

Please don't think I am diminishing your opinion, I agree and I think it is wise to distinguish that a marriage has some obvious commitments that are different from others.

But in the prior discussion, I was actually thinking of this with something like a Venn Diagram in mind and that if I'm married to a believer there are some areas that intersect. Would you not agree? So if there is a mandate (that is, if I were to AGREE that there is a mandate) to always do [blank] with other believers, then it would also be a mandate to do [blank] with my believing spouse. Right? But to say a mandate to always do [blank] does NOT apply to my believing spouse means that "always" is an over-statement.

So, to keep the premise of "always" with that in mind, it would be helpful if there were some Biblical evidence for the application of this exception.

So far I've got opinions, no scripture, so I'm assuming my belief in "not always" is more accurate.

That's my attempt at "reasonable" logic - in the context of the original discussion this post was inspired by. :)

Just so you know, I think I hold commitment to the Body of Christ, in some ways, more sacred than marriage because it is eternal while marriage is only "til death." I think these relationships are far more important than many will give credit to, but I do realize they have different purposes and considerations.

Do I make any sense here?

Lynne said...

I think I'm with you ..
My husband and I have considerable differences in beliefs: he's calvinist, complementarian and cessationist for example, and I'm the polar opposite on those 3 issues. (and if you think that makes for some "interesting" marital moments -- you're dead right!)Oh, and we differ on the meaning and importance of communion too! I'm still his wife, and if 1 Cor 7 says I'm to stay with an unbelieving spouse, how much more with a believer with whom I have some differences.

I have never met a fellow christian with whom I could not be in fellowship at least to some level -- hey, if we've got Jesus in common then we have life together, no matter how many interpretive points we may differ on. .. I have left a church because i no longer felt I could worship there, but I never saw it as an issue of disfellowshipping from my brothers and sisters. it was because it was a strictly comp church, and as a woman I was overwhelmingly frustrated because there was no outlet within that system for me to use my gifts (I did not fit their schema of a church woman). Plus their very comp paradigm was making it very hard for me to process some abuse issues in my life. And i would be very happy to do stuff with those people in any joint project based on what we have in common in Jesus!

mibman said...

You examine your faith. What you believe ... why you believe. So few do. I understand the reticence to toss certain beliefs out there. Ironically ... most of those that need the 'fixin' want to fix others. :-) I pray God's peace on you & your's! - tim

karen said...

Hmmmm. I'm not coming up with scripture for you right now. Careful to not set the Bible as the thing worshiped, rather than the Father and His model of Love.

I also wonder why this fellow that visits the other blog always gets "press" and attention when he rarely brings peace to your dialogues. There is no uplifting, or not much, coming from him, ever....just unrest. Is that the Father's work? I don't think so. Understanding and knowing bring peace.

And, yes, a blog circle or fellowship is most definitely 'church'.
Separating from a church with walls is a different endeavor than separating from the Body.
Missy,I see your point about marriage and the relationships with other believers. I also got a kick out of your Venn diagram analogy.
Why is there a "must" do list, with and "always" list at all? That smacks of legalism. What is the Holy Spirit telling you? Believe me, you'll be told when and if to leave. There are seasons for all of us. People will come and go in those seasons, if we listen--according to HIS will...not ours, or the other guy's on a blog.

Another Voice said...


"if 1 Cor 7 says I'm to stay with an unbelieving spouse, how much more with a believer with whom I have some differences."

That's what we do! Take a scripture to heart - not to law.

I think the point of leaving for me would be if I could no longer do anything more than become bitter. Who knows? I just know I don't feel like I am anywhere near that.

Another Voice said...

I get your warning, Karen. I'm trying not to! I think scripture is one of the ways God communicates with me (like a letter) - his creation is another (like a complicated painting full of math and science) - and His spirit is another (like a whisper in my ear). I look to all three to say the same for understanding. So, if I'm lucky I have at least 4 voices in my head - and 3 should out-vote one - usually.

Now that I am banned, I hope to not be giving more press. You are right, there has been no peace brought through dialogue. I am not sure why I keep going back - but I think it is hope.

"Why is there a "must" do list, with and "always" list at all? That smacks of legalism."

Exactly! But if I am presented a "must" or an "always" I do feel the need to fight back. Don't you? ;) That's not leading to peace for me either - but it does push me to truth, I think. And I think that will eventually bring peace. But maybe I'm only trying to justify my stubborness here. :)

Thanks, Karen for your encouragement. I'm a-listening!

karen said...

You were banned? Way to go! You must be going in the right direction! ;-)
You know to which voice you must listen!
Absolutely, warrior in both of us wants to take up the sword, but we are also told to shake off the dust and move on in some instances.
Sounds like you know which something you're supposed to leave! ;-)

karen said...

I saw the situation, my friend.
There is arrogance and pride over there which casts a shadow over any evidence of Truth.
The Lord was speaking to both of you--one was made blessed, the other afraid.

Kc said...

Missy I couldn’t agree more with your reasoning. I find our mandate to love requires that we work these things out together. I know there are many verses used to justify dividing the body of Christ. I’d like to examine the ones that were used to define that as a mandate to you if you find time to list them.

Karen, what Greek dictionary do you use to define ”hupotasso”?

Strong’s offers this:

“to subordinate; reflexively to obey: - be under obedience (obedient), put under, subdue unto, (be, make) subject (to, unto), be (put) in subjection (to, under), submit self unto.”

The NAS states:

”to place or rank under, to subject, mid. to obey”

Neither defines ”hupotasso” as meaning ”to support”.

I am also curious as to what translation you use that does not use ”subject” or ”submit” in Ephesians 5.

I would understand the scripture in Ephesians 5 and elsewhere to teach that love is made manifest through submission. Even the love of God was made manifest in Christ’ submission to the cross, likewise, our love is made manifest through our submission/subjection to one another and it is through this that the world shall know we are His. It seems to me that love apart from submission is nothing more than an unresolved feeling.

Kc said...

Sis no need for the list. I found the blog and the comments.

karen said...

Dr. Ann Nyland, a Greek scholar has translated the New Testament after study of new papyri that are contemporary to NT times. As you know, a large percentage of words in the original Greek were never translated, and I hope you also know that a good deal of words have been added. So it is with Ephesians 5:22. "Wives, submit to your husbands..." does not occur in any known Greek text, yet, it's made it into nearly every Bible version. Here's what Dr. Nyland says:
--The word, erroneously appearing as an imperative (in verse 22 where no verb appears) is in fact a participle and is in verse 21: "supporting one another." The actual verb is "be filled" at the beginning of verse 21.--
She translates as such:
Be filled with the Spirit, while you are supporting one another out of respect for the Anointed One. 22. wives, with your own husbands as with the Lord. 23 The man is the source of the woman just as the Anointed One is the source of the assembly. He himself is the protector of the body. 24 Just as the assembly is a support for the Anointed One, so also let the wives be a support for their husbands in everything.
I have several Greek and Hebrew interlinears (Green's is one) and even a contemporary Oxford dictionary that defines hupotasso as submit as in to present something.
Kephale means "head" or "source" but we always put our own English quirks onto other languages where they are not the same, nor appropriate. Kephale means "head" like the head on a body or the head or source of a river.
You said,
"It seems to me that love apart from submission is nothing more than an unresolved feeling." I disagree. Submission has nothing to do with love. If my dog rolls over for another dog, that has to do with fear, not love. If I think someone should submit to me, that has nothing to do with love and everything to do with my need for domination and control. This concept of submission has been skewed and abused in Christianity.
Supporting, attaching, and lifting up one another, however, these actions are all love IN action. When I am with my fellow true believers, we naturally move in leadership and "follow-ship" as gifts and talents are needed and utilized.
More about Dr. Nyland:
This is not the only source. Drs. Eddie and Sue Hyatt; Dr. Gilbert Bilzikian and the amazing Katharine Bushnell all have researched the Greek about these subjects.

I understand that you may not accept this, that is fine.

Kc said...

Karen thanks for providing your source.

If I understand correctly it is “The Source” translation of the NT that fails to translate hupotasso as submit as opposed to any English translation of the Bible. In light of the published works of Dr. Nyland I can easily accept this would be the case.

Your statement then that, “The Bible doesn’t say submit” is valid only if ”The Source” is considered the Bible in which case you are correct. I don’t accept this.

karen said...

I didn't expect that you would accept it.

I no longer accept the KJV nor its subsequent copies as entirely accurate.

The Bible is inerrant. The translations are not.

I prefer "the real words": I prefer going to the original Greek (as close as we can get); and I prefer literal translations. When that fails to answer, I investigate the word itself. The Source is not the only "source" of this. Going to the literals and the research into the Greek has been a revelation.
Blessings to you and yours.

Another Voice said...

To be "educated," I looked this up. And I really could be coming at this with my own theological bent, but here it is:

On, under the NAS Greek Lexicon, hippopotamus, I mean, hupatasso (hehe) I found this to be most helpful:

A Greek military term meaning "to arrange [troop divisions] in amilitary fashion under the command of a leader". In non-military use,it was "a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden".

The reason I find this helpful is due to the comparison, wife:husband :: the Church:Christ, in Ephesians. Now, this does not seem like a military minded passage so I would go with a non-military use. However, I find the reference to this as a Greek military phrase also helpful looking at the time frame this was utilized.

Looking closer at the root words:
hupo: preposition meaning by or under, and
to put in order, to station
to place in a certain order, to arrange, to assign a place, to appoint
to assign (appoint) a thing to one
to appoint, ordain, order
to appoint on one's own responsibility or authority
to appoint mutually, i.e. agree upon

I think, for the most part, I agree with both of you guys. This word seems to be able to mean both a directive or a self-directive placement under another. It seems to me the object and purpose of that placement would change in context.

In Ephesians 5, I really did not see much difference in Dr. Nyland's translation than what I'd come to understand from the NIV. So I guess I am not sure what the disagreement is. Even though the term "submit" would not be an imperative, submission, in the sense of placing oneself under the husband or the Lord, is implied. Although - in verse 24, Nyland's translation: "Just as the assembly is a support for the Anointed One..." - I'm trying to understand what that means. How is the assembly a support for the Anointed One? (This is Jesus, right?)

Anyway, I wanted you guys to know I am thinking about what you are saying, and I think that it is really cool when two people (of which I probably admire the most out here in the ethernet) can exchange peacefully a differing opinion. I need to learn that.

I also want you to know, and I am sure you might have guessed, nobody "puts (Missy) in the corner." When I use "submit" - in English - I always mean it as a personal verb as a voluntary act of placing oneself below others either to defer out of respect for age, wisdom, authority, even fear or as an act of comraderie, co-operativeness or to simply bring peace or avoid conflict. It can sometimes be a very wise or brave thing or a very stupid and cowardly thing to do - motive is key. I do not always view it as an honorable thing - but when it is done with humility, selflessness and goodness, I respect it regardless of what it looks like to the world. I wish I'd had the courage in my discussions with this other blogger to submit in this way - not by obeying his commands - but by refusing to try to pick apart His argument because I could not see the same conclusion. I should have walked away and let him have his opinion and final word. He got those things anyway, and I only feel shame for letting it get under my skin.

Some viewing Christ dying on the Cross laughed and asked why He would not save Himself. Scriptures say He submitted fully to death - for me. I didn't do anything to warrant or earn that submission, but I got it anyway. That's why I want to do my best to forget what I want to "get" out of each interaction and instead learn, like Karen, to support, attach, and lift up another. :)

Pray for me, cuz I'm failing. :(

karen said...

I may post more later, maybe not.
Probably not.
One of my scholarly Phd. friends says that Strong's is "simplistic and antiquated like a Model T." and she would rather drive a car with the benefit of 100+ years more of research.
She likens hupotasso to "identify with" because of the culture of marriage in the NT times with the Ephesians. This would go along with the "support, attach" concept.
She makes the difference between what words Paul used and what he COULD have used:
* kephale and archon.
* hupotasso and hupokao.
Paul never uses archon or hupokao in referring to the marriage relationship.
Christians can live post-fall, or pre-fall. Their choice. I choose pre-fall...freedom, equality, support, and love.
And that is all I'm going to say.

Another Voice said...

After a discussion, Mr. Right thought I should clarify some contextual nuances of my meaning when referring to the word "submit." And I shall submit to his suggestion. :)

First, let me say that I have a deeply imbedded belief in commitment. I would NEVER advise anyone to stay in an abusive relationship, but neither would I encourage them to run even though I have helped to do just that in instances where danger is imminent. I have experienced and grown through some amazing transformations under committed relationships with abusive people. I was committed in the sense that I loved unconditionally - and/or accepted I myself was loved unconditionally, not that I submitted my will under abusive tactics. Although in fear or weakness, I often did - which, I suspect was a poor choice, at least when I was of a certain age. All of these relationships still stand today, healthy and with established boundaries. We still have battles on issues, but those battles are within bounds or quickly brought back into bounds, and are very fruitful events.

I've learned how completely angry you can be with someone and still love them down to the very core of who they are, regardless if they ever change - and truy desire them to be as happy and/or content as I. I have also learned that the perserverance of that love has ALWAYS been fruitful. (Living this out also makes me struggle intensely with the concept of man's depravity - but another subject, eh?)

Anyway, I say all this so you understand that to me, Karen's definition of "submit" is apropos in a committed relationship - and as she says, it is used in a committed context both for men and women as well as for Christ. As the root, hupo, indicates that it is not only intended as "under" but "by" in which the meaning could be to place yourself as equal, not under - which as Karen says is to "attach." Submission in this context of committment typically does not require me to place my desires or will below another. To me it has usually meant a willingness to compromise until we are both satisfied simply because I see we are on the same team - not adversaries. I apply this same understanding to the biblical principles of commitment, submission and unity. And I see clearly in scripture several relationships I am asked to consider in this light: with God, marriage, family, church, figures of authority. I am clear that the term submit always indicates that I am not to place myself OVER the other.

However, there a very clear indications in scripture - especially when this term is used in conjunction with submission to God or governing authorities that "under" is the best definition as the term or meaning of "obedience" is attached.

I think this line of thinking will lead well into a future post regarding my beliefs in my baptism and my salvation. {{sigh}} But maybe not. ;)

Another Voice said...

Karen, I missed your comment while I was working on mine. I hope that it clarifies where I do agree with you.

I like the pre-fall living myself, and I would add humility to that list. Without it, none of the others would work. :)

karen said...

I know, Missy.
For a scholarly, professional take on the subject: Drs. Eddie and Susan Hyatt

dorsey said...

You are not in relationship with a group or an institution. You are only in relationship with other individuals.

In my reading of the original language, hupotasso means "give a deep-tissue massage to," except on Thursdays, when it means, "make a sandwich for."

Genesis 3:1 is my model for this type of exegesis.
: )

karen said...

Finally! Someone with answers! ;-D

Another Voice said...

Thank you, Dorsey. That was my point to begin with. Satan did ask a good question, Eve just overstated the answer and that led to doubt. :)

Where have you been? You have been missed!