Disclaimer: About This Blog

THIS BLOG IS: my personal journey of how I am rethinking some of my spiritual beliefs.
THIS BLOG IS NOT: intended to point fingers at people who I think are wrong.
I do not believe the final judgement will be based on how many correct answers we get on a theology exam. I believe many people throughout history have had genuine relationships with our Lord and Saviour Jesus, despite holding questionable beliefs and practices. I make no claim to having it all figured out or being your judge. If we end up disagreeing over these topics I pray we can find a way to demonstrate grace.

Monday, August 2, 2010

History of Speaking Up In Church

When believers gathered in the early church everyone could speak and share what God was speaking to them (well... the men at least... but that's another topic). It would have been quite different than the type of 'church service' that is common today, where an audience sits passively in rows listening to a few selected speakers.
What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church. If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God. Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. (1 Cor 14:26-32 NIV)
As the church spread and grew in the Roman empire, it became state run. Somehow things changed and believers became accustomed to sitting and listening to one person give long orations. Over time the common person had little input in what was said at the Sunday gathering.

The 16th century Anabaptists tried to change this.
"The Anabaptists insisted upon the "free course" of the Holy Spirit in worship, yet still maintained it all must be judged according to the Scriptures. The Swiss Anabaptist document titled "Answer of Some Who Are Called (Ana-)Baptists - Why They Do Not Attend the Churches". One reason given for not attending the state churches was that these institutions forbade the congregation to exercise spiritual gifts according to "the Christian order as taught in the gospel or the Word of God in 1 Corinthians 14." "When such believers come together, "Everyone of you (note every one) hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation," etc...When someone comes to church and constantly hears only one person speaking, and all the listeners are silent, neither speaking nor prophesying, who can or will regard or confess the same to be a spiritual congregation, or confess according to 1 Corinthians 14 that God is dwelling and operating in them through His Holy Spirit with His gifts, impelling them one after another in the above-mentioned order of speaking and prophesying".

But the Protestant and Catholic leaders of the day killed and persecuted the Anabaptists.

So where are we at today?

Are we OK with the order of service introduced by leaders in the Roman empire? Should what is said at the Sunday morning gathering be controlled by one or few members, or can we consider allowing the Holy Spirit to lead the many members of the body like we read about in 1 Cor 14?

Related Posts:
(This conversation continued here and here at Alan Knox's blog.)


Alan Knox said...

Well, that's something that I never heard in Baptist History class. But, it's something that I certainly agree with now. Thanks for the post!


Jonathan said...

Thanks Alan.

Lysa said...

Amen brother!
It's time to change our way of "thinking" to Holy Spirit's way of "thinking'!