The past couple weeks have been sick ones for the family, and not in a cool X-Games kind of way.  My personal battle with strep throat has taken me into seven different prescriptions now to try to get it under control, and thankfully it seems to finally be working.  I have been very thankful for a doctor that’s willing to work with me and prescribe things that will work to make me better.  This, along with my current reading of “Pagan Christianity” by Frank Viola, has had me thinking a lot about prescriptions.

I am only about a quarter of the way through the book, but I think it is safe to say the author thinks the institutional church has gone completely off the rails in its practices and does not reflect the Christianity of the New Testament church in its worship and practices.  He regularly cites places and accounts of what New Testament churches functioned life and points out how the church incorporated “pagan” practices which now shape the majority of its worship practices.  I will not disagree with him on any of historical observations or even his observations of New Testament worship practices.  I think if anything I agree with a lot of the assertions he makes about it being unhealthy when only a few people lead worship services instead of the whole church being involved.  My question is more about prescriptions.  Should we really take what the New Testament Jesus followers did in their worship services as prescriptive or are they just descriptive?

It is quite obvious that many of our churches do not take everything in the New Testament as prescriptive.  If it were so we certainly would never eat meat anything other than well done … ugh.  We would all wear sandles like Paul.  Or maybe we should all eat locusts like John.  We do not do everything that the New Testament believers did and we should not feel compelled to.  Some things are descriptive of the realities of life, not prescriptive about how they should be.  When it comes to methods of worship and church organization I am far more of the mind that God did not say a lot about how they need to be to give people freedom to express worship through their own cultures, not just in one homogenous method.  In truth I really like the idea of organic house church.  It feels good to me.  I am certainly not willing to write off institutional churches as being unfaithful to God’s desires just because they take other cultural influences into their formation and not just first century Judaism.  I think it is more than possible to incorporate all the same important values into institutional churches as can be in organic house churches, although it may take some work.

In the end the I think the question is how prescriptive do you really think the New Testament really is about worship practices and church organization?

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