#0088 All the believers were one in heart and mind
Scripture relevant to today’s posting…
24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon
Matt. 6:24 (KJV)
Today’s posting is part VII of an excerpt from the book I am currently working on. This article looks at the difference between an hierarchy-based community and a community which is NOT hierarchy-based; this type of community would utilize concepts and principals of egalitarianism. The reason I’ve been talking about this is because, although Jesus’s message was filled with elements of the egalitarian principal, the Church continues to operate within the well-worn hierarchical structure, embracing and pushing its principles. Our main focus has been on a particular mention from the Book of Acts where a shifting within the community of believers appears to be taking place. Today we are delving deeper into this shift and exploring the possibility of what might have happened if things had gone differently—if the apostles would have played their cards differently than they did. Would the Church be different today? If so—how? I rewrote some stuff, so I am beginning with that rewrite.
(Continued from Sunday 5-1-16)
- Secondly, if we buy into this idea that the conversions of these people can be solely accredited to the preaching skill and ministerial giftedness of the apostles, it becomes a short stroll from that point to embracing the entire concept of hierarchy (AKA: priesthood) and incorporating it into the Church’s structure. Once the consensus of the early believers reached the point of seeing the apostles as the sole arbitrators of the Holy Ghost and the rest of the Trinity, it was only a matter of time before this attempt by the Holy Ghost to form an egalitarian community would become little more than a short and sweet, 1-line reference in the Book of Acts. Once the apostles opened up this this Pandora’s Box—though they did so unintentionally—the building blocks of a hierarchical foundation upon which the structure of the Church of Christ would be lain down. Once this process got underway, the inevitable falling back into the old Pharisaic patterns would ensue. This is exactly what happened. The hierarchy was established and the Church began taking shape upon it and over the centuries it’s been tempered by wave upon wave of external conflicts as well as all manner of internal strife. Today the egalitarian dream is all but forgotten by the Church and the Holy Ghost has had to use other means to try and operate inside its structure. The Holy Ghost is designed to work the most efficiently and effectively within the egalitarian arenas where the ideas of unconditional love; forgiveness and diversity make the most sense to people. These concepts become much more of a hard-sell to people within the hierarchical arenas.
Today the scripture references in Acts 4 and 5 are still used in Christian churches from time to time; however, the translation has been adapted to promote a hierarchical agenda. Christian preachers typically use these excerpts to collect money from people. They spin up the lines in Acts 4: 34-35…
34 …that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.
Preachers like to assume that they possess the same authority as the apostles and in doing so paint a picture which puts their own present-day congregations in the same scene described in this scripture. They are nothing alike; but if there were similarities, these preachers would be making the same mistake the apostles did: assuming they held a priesthood authority which allowed them to over-extend their reach; take a superior position over the body of believers and to push the hand of the Holy Ghost out of the way providing them with a free reign. Undoubtedly there are advantages which could be enumerated in a pros column and used in a debate about priesthood and the authority that goes with it. But on the other side, in the cons column, there is one glaring disadvantage sitting atop the list; which is the unspoken supposition that only those who are ordained ministers are qualified to speak for God or have a valid spiritual point of view which can be taken seriously. An example of this is evidenced in the scripture reference as we get the strong indication that it was the apostles who were running the entire show. The rest of the community, meanwhile seem to be little more than spectators or puppet people needing to be told what to do and how to act in matters relating to their relationship with God. Let’s talk about this for a second and let’s begin our conversation with these “little” people who were not the apostles; but were still active participants in the egalitarian community mentioned in Acts 4 and 5. I think this bears looking into as it addresses the very methodology and way the Holy Ghost was functioning with them which would be the same way God functions today. If these people were brought into the fold, or were convinced to believe in the divinity of Jesus strictly based upon the silver-tongued preaching prowess of the apostles, then there is a valid case to be made for the importance and necessity of priesthood authority. But if there is more to the story—the methodology of the Holy Ghost is closer to the illustration I used earlier of the metal (gold) plating process then a colossal misconception about God has been (and continues to be) promoted by the traditional interpretation of this scripture. If in their original encounter with the Holy Ghost they themselves were touched with the Gift of the Spirit known as Interpretation of Tongues then these people were in effect elevated through that encounter and that from that moment forwards they were no longer “little” people—they had every bit as much spiritual potential and/or authority as the apostles themselves. The indication that this is actually what happened comes in verse 32…
32 All the believers were one in heart and mind.
This oneness of heart and mind is so much more significant than the sharing of money and property it speaks of what religion likes to talk about as authority. Any spiritual authority originates from the Holy Ghost and the power in that authority is in the love which emanates from it. These people were radiating with the love of God and their desire to share their possessions was merely an outward sign of this love. The apostles unwittingly wrecked this spiritual dynamic when they began flexing their authority muscles to dominate the community of believers and focusing on the money. The sense of love and equality fled and the spirit of hierarchy quickly rushed in to take its place. By the community not being allowed to develop their egalitarian potential not only cheated them out of the blessings they might have been able to enjoy; but we who come after them have been cheated also. The apostles didn’t see that and because they missed it, the divine experiment involving the oneness of hearts and minds of people never really got off the ground and consequently a heritage of such an egalitarian society never made its way down through history to us.
If you have a question or thought about this or other postings please feel free to send them in. As always, thanks for reading.
TBC: Sunday, May 08, 2016