A Guide to Christian Theology - Lesson 43

Definition of Church

Gerry Breshears
A Guide to Christian Theology
Lesson 43
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Definition of Church

  • In this lesson, explore the significance of systematic theology, blending academic insight with personal devotion. Learn to interpret biblical texts, understand how theology shapes beliefs, and fortify your faith against deception. This study fosters personal, biblical, and responsible theological growth, vital for spiritual development and discipleship.
  • Learn diverse ways to tackle theological questions, focusing on Holy Spirit baptism. Understand deductive, inductive, and retro-abductive methods. Acts 17:11 and Acts 15 show how community perspectives contribute to nuanced theological discussions, promoting unity amidst differing viewpoints.
  • This lesson provides insights into theological certainty levels, categorizing beliefs into "die for," "divide for," "debate for," and "decide for," highlighting essential doctrines, divisive issues, passionate debates, and less crucial matters, while underscoring the significance of understanding diverse perspectives and theological terms across different Christian tribes.
  • Explore general revelation through creation and conscience (Psalm 19, Romans 1). Responding leads to God, though not salvation alone. Special revelation possible. Diverse salvation views, favoring knowing Jesus. Seared consciences don't always void salvation.
  • Gain deep understanding of special revelation: history, divine acts, and communication revealing God's character and redemptive plan via Messiah. Lesson highlights Bible's key role, conveying God's nature, guidance, and transformative power, emphasizing ongoing divine-human communication.
  • This lesson delves into the concept of divine inspiration in Scripture, citing 2 Timothy 3:15-16 and 2 Peter 1:16-21. It explains "God-breathed" as a term highlighting God's creative influence on words, rejecting mere concepts or dictation. Inspiration involves human authors, their personalities, and styles, conveying God's message to the entire church.
  • In this lesson, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of the characteristics of God, including their definitions, biblical support, and implications and applications.
  • In this lesson you will gain insight into the Bible's clarity, sufficiency, and authority, and the Canon.
  • In this lesson, you'll grasp a deep understanding of God's character. His foremost quality is compassion, like a mother's love. He's gracious, patient, loving, faithful, and forgiving, extending favor even to the undeserving. Yet, He's just, not sparing the persistently rebellious. This lesson dispels misconceptions, urging contemplation of God's profound blend of love and justice.
  • This lesson delves into holiness via Isaiah 6, emphasizing dedication over separation from sin. It challenges misconceptions and calls for church reform.
  • This lesson delves into the fundamental characteristics of God, particularly the Trinity, emphasizing God's essential relational nature within Himself and its biblical implications, while also addressing theological controversies and highlighting the complexity of the Trinity.
  • This lesson explores different approaches to knowing God, inspired by Thomas Aquinas, discusses the doctrine of immutability, and highlights how God can change in his attitude and actions based on biblical evidence, emphasizing the value of in-depth Bible study and open dialogue in understanding God's nature.
  • This lesson covers key theological concepts: sovereignty, election, and free will. It explores differences between Calvinist and Wesleyan-Arminian views on God's sovereignty, impacting God's plan and human responsibility. Emphasis on defining terms to prevent disputes. Speaker is a "Calminian," blending Calvinism and Arminianism for a balanced perspective. Valuable insights into theological complexities and scripture interpretation.
  • Exploring various theological views and problematic issues surrounding the concept of providence, we will gain a comprehensive understanding of the role of prayer in providence, as well as the compatibility of God's sovereignty and human responsibility.
  • You will gain knowledge about anthropology and its biblical foundations, creation of human beings and the image of God in humans, fall and sin and their implications on human nature, redemption and sanctification, and human destiny and eschatology, including views on heaven and hell and the return of Christ.
  • This lesson offers valuable insights into the multifaceted nature of providence and its profound implications for our comprehension of God's role in the world.
  • The lesson touches upon various types of suffering, categorizing them into six different types: moral evil (e.g., rape), natural evil (e.g., cancer), persecution, sharing the suffering of another, punishment for sin, and suffering caused by the devil.
  • Learn to discern God's will by cultivating a Christ-like character, living by moral principles, seeking counsel, embracing uniqueness, and praying. It's about aligning with your long-term happiness and godly desires, offering a balanced approach to life decisions.
  • Explore Jesus' nature and incarnation. Learn how He balanced divine and human attributes, challenging traditional views. Reflect on His mission and ours, empowered by the Holy Spirit, bridging divinity and humanity.
  • This lesson delves into the incarnation of Jesus, explaining his dual nature as both God and man during his earthly mission, supported by Old Testament, Gospel, and epistle references. It acknowledges the complexity of his divinity and humanity, even after his ascension.
  • This lesson explores Jesus' dual nature, divine and human, delving into emotions, knowledge, sin, and his role as the Second Adam, offering theological insights.
  • Learn about Jesus' life and mission, challenging traditional beliefs like the virgin birth. Explore his spiritual journey, resurrection, and more, fostering critical thinking and alternative perspectives.
  • This lesson provides a comprehensive examination of atonement, its various dimensions, and the theological concepts surrounding it.
  • Learn about the Holy Spirit, baptism, and its role in Christian faith. Understand diverse perspectives on its workings in believers' lives, emphasizing its incorporation at conversion and empowering influence, supported by biblical insights.
  • Gain insight into the relationship between spirit baptism and conversion, the various terms used in Scripture, and the importance of ongoing fillings with the Holy Spirit for special ministry tasks, character, and as a command for all believers.
  • This lesson explores the role of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts. It challenges traditional definitions, proposing that any ability empowered by the Holy Spirit and used in ministry is a spiritual gift. The primary gift is the Holy Spirit himself.
  • Learn about the theological debate on spiritual gifts like prophecy and miracles. Explore four perspectives: cessationism, continuationism, functional cessationism, and word of faith. The instructor, a continuationist, emphasizes discernment and scripture while promoting respectful dialogue among believers with differing views.
  • This lesson explores the Bible's view of humanity, emphasizing humans as God's unique creation, made from dust and breath, in His image. It delves into human origins, our role as covenant partners, and the interaction between spirit and body, supported by biblical passages, offering a holistic perspective on being human in God's eyes.
  • This lesson redefines humans as image-bearers of God, emphasizing the role of reflecting divine attributes in all work, gender equality, and growth in Christ-likeness. It promotes dignity for all, with potential for deeper reflection as faith matures.
  • In this lesson you will explore the origin of sin, rejecting dualism in favor of a Christian perspective where sin arises from the choices of morally responsible creatures. The lesson introduces the idea of a pre-creation rebellion by Satan, emphasizing that humans are called to engage in spiritual warfare by doing good and promoting Shalom in the world.
  • You will gain knowledge and insight into the nature, marks, purpose, structure, and sacraments of the Church and learn about the different views and definitions used to define it.
  • This lecture discusses the leadership offices of a church, including eldership, deacons, and church members, and how they function according to biblical principles of polity, which prioritize following what the Bible prescribes, closely following what it describes, and using wisdom and being Spirit-led in matters it is silent about, all with the aim of effectively sharing the Gospel and achieving unity and focus.
  • In this lesson, you will explore baptism's significance, modes, and theological perspectives, and learn its role in church membership, unity, discipleship, and spiritual growth.
  • This lesson provides an overview of the historical, biblical, and theological aspects of Communion, including practical considerations for its practice.
  • You will gain a good understanding of death and its theological implications, including the biblical view of death, consequences of death, and resurrection and the afterlife. The lesson covers the definition of death, cultural views, and the portrayal of death in the Old and New Testaments. You will also learn about the physical and spiritual consequences of death, as well as the Bible's teachings on resurrection and the afterlife.
  • From this lesson, you gain insight into the biblical concept of God's Kingdom, its significance in Christian theology, and its impact on eschatology, social justice, and the Church's role.
  • In this lesson, you gain insight into eschatology, examine biblical perspectives, explore key events like the Rapture, Tribulation, Millennium, and Final Judgment, and learn the significance of eschatology for today's believers.
  • By studying the eternal state, you gain insights into the new heaven and earth, resurrection, judgment, and eternal life, deepening your understanding of Christian hope and assurance.
  • Through this lesson, you gain insight into the crucial role of church leaders, their essential qualities, and the challenges they face, while discovering the importance of support and encouragement for their growth and effectiveness in ministry.
  • In this lesson, you gain an understanding of the nature of Scripture and learn to interpret the Bible within its historical, literary, and canonical contexts while addressing challenges in biblical interpretation.
  • This lesson delves into the structure and authority of a church, examining different leadership models and emphasizing the overarching role of scripture as the final authority, while also highlighting the need for congregational involvement in decision-making processes and the unique nature of the apostles in early church leadership.
  • Learn Dr. Breshears' local church leadership principles: focus on equipping, inspiring, empowering, unifying, exemplifying, caring for, overseeing, and shepherding members. Rooted in biblical teachings, emphasizes servant leadership. The lesson discusses congregational decision-making, women in church leadership roles with respect for differing views.
  • Learn about church leadership principles, roles of elders and deacons, active membership, mutual commitment, gift utilization, and clear processes in this comprehensive lesson.
  • This lesson explores sacraments, focusing on baptism and diverse theological views. Baptism signifies a profound commitment to Christ within a believer community, emphasizing understanding and promptness post-conversion.
  • In this lesson, you'll grasp the essence of baptism, its questions, and debates. Discover belief's role, its confession, and the link to repentance and faith. Explore diverse views on baptism performers, methods, and locations. Gain insights and wisdom for informed baptism decisions in your faith community.
  • From this lesson, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of Communion, also known as the Lord's Supper or Eucharist. It will provide you with insights into the controversy surrounding its terminology and the theological background of Communion, primarily focusing on 1 Corinthians Chapters 10 and 11. You will learn about various theological perspectives on the real presence of Christ in the Communion elements and explore different viewpoints on the frequency, leadership, eligibility, and practical aspects of Communion. Overall, this lesson will equip you with the knowledge to better understand and participate in the Communion meal.
  • This lesson delves into two ends: individual death and the end of the age. It explores human death, material and immaterial aspects (Ecclesiastes 12:7, Genesis 3), fear, loss of autonomy, cremation, death determination, rewards, and urges preparation to meet Jesus, facing the undeniable reality of death.
  • Learn about the Kingdom of God, its aspects, Christ's return interpretations, and key concepts like inaugurated, Messianic, and millennium kingdoms. Emphasizing humility and mission in theological debates, it prepares you for insightful discussions on Christ's return and tribulation.
  • Learn about Christian views on heaven and hell. Hell is punishment for those who reject Jesus; heaven is eternal bliss with Him on a renewed Earth. Explore differing views respectfully.

Understand the core topics of systematic theology, from what we know about God to the future state of humankind. Special emphasis is given to such topics as Christ, salvation, the church, and the future.

A Guide to Christian Theology
Dr. Gerry Breshears
Definition of Church
Lesson Transcript

Well, we're moving into a new topic now. It's a topic of the church. Talk about something with a little bit of controversy. Here we go.

Kind of the first question is what is a church? And I usually begin with points of agreement. I don't know if there are any points of agreement here. I mean, you look in English, what does the word church mean in English? It means a building. "Hey, you going to church today?" What does it mean in that sentence? "Hey, you're going to church today?" See, that's not a building. What does the word mean when you say, "Hey, you going to church today?"


That's a meeting that you go to. And for many people, church is a building, which of course biblically, that's not going to be the case, because the church didn't have buildings for quite a while. Are you going to church today? Is a meeting that we go participate in. "Ah, look at all this stuff going on. The church ought to do something." Well, that's not a meeting or a building. What is it? "Church ought to do something." Well, that's the church as the moral police, kind of thing.

If you come from a more Catholic background, Roman Catholic or Anglo Catholic, the church is a eucharistic society, and that's a spot where the sacraments are done, and sacramental grace is offered to the people in the church. And one of the things that goes on right now in the Catholic church is that, as I'm recording this, an archbishop has denied a prominent political figure, a right to take Eucharist in the archbishop's area. And the prominent ... I'm being vague about names here, obviously. The prominent governmental authority that is the district represented. And so when the archbishop says "You cannot take the Eucharist in this district," it's short of excommunication, but it's almost there.

And that's the thing. In the Roman Catholic view, if you can't come and take the Eucharist, then you have no access to grace, which would end up leading you to go to hell because inevitably somebody will eventually do a mortal sin. So the church, the Eucharistic organism, or a hierarchy in a bishop and priest according to the succession of apostles, and that's true in many places. The apostolic succession going all the way back to Peter.

A common view is a church is believers in Jesus. Again, I'm just referring to the handout here. Believers in Jesus who are organized as a community, the spirit united for a mission of exaltation, evangelism, edification. So in this view, and this is probably the biblical view, is the church is a group of confessing believers in Jesus.

But when I was at church yesterday, as I'm recording this, I was in my church, Grace Community Church in Gresham, Oregon. And there were people there who are not believers in Jesus Christ, but they are part of our group, and are there often. Are they part of the church? We'll see there is a difference between church as a redemptive community, redeemed community, which I think the church should be a community that redeemed, and a church as a social group that includes lots of people who are not a part of church in the more biblical sense of the word.

So what is church? We just have to have a more complicated view in that, because the church is a social organization. Whoever shows up and is participating in my particular congregation. There's church in a biblical sense, those who are connected with Jesus Christ and a part of the body of Christ in that biblical sense. A church is a building, a church is a ... meets regularly, all these different kinds of things.

But the heart of the definition for me, biblically, is a group of redeemed people who are connected to each other, devoted to the apostles' teaching, sharing their things together, and on a mission to take the good news of Jesus Christ to the world, and build each other up.

What differentiates that from a home Bible study? We call them communities of grace. And so you've got three or four families that get together in a committed group, and what separates that from the larger group, you can have no end of problems if you get down to this. But let's make two basic definitions. One is the body of Christ, which is believers, in my judgment, and my Baptist roots will be very clear here, is the church is made up of believers in Jesus Christ, in the more biblical sense of it as the body of Christ. But then a sociological sense, it includes a lot of people who are not believers. That could be children who are too young really to make a commitment of faith yet, and families and friends who are still a part of the organization on a regular basis. And we greet each other and have a deep relation, but they're not believers in Jesus Christ. So there's a body of Christ view, and then there's a sociological group, and I think we have to have both of those.

So I talk about is the sociological group is the church plus friends. So it's a Thanksgiving dinner that's for family, but we have guests that come in too, and such where it's coming in. And one of the questions, again, this is a differentiating question, does the church have a priesthood, or is the church a priesthood? Or is a church made of priests? If you're part of a Catholic church, Anglo Catholic or Roman Catholic, or Eastern Orthodox Church, has a ordained priesthood, and only priests can actually do the sacerdotal things like Eucharist and confession, or baptism. So in Roman Catholic view, the only person who could do a baptism for example, is an ordained priest, and in good fellowship with the Bishop of the church. And we'll talk about this in a bit.

In our church, which is a free church, we would say the church, the body of Christ church, is made up of priests. Any person is a priest and can do priestly duties. So what do priests do? Well, biblically priests have access to God, and I would say that's any believer has access to God, and they're performing redemptive sacrifices. Well, redemptive sacrifice is not killing animals, but redemptive sacrifices here is sacrificing my privileges for the sake of other people. That's redemptive sacrifice, because that kindness is what leads people to salvation.

I think of a fellow I know quite well, again, I'm being vague, who has just come into the church, even though he was hurt deeply by the church as a young man, and wants nothing to do with it, he is now a full member of a good church, because of the kindness of that church. And he just can't quite escape that. It's just an odd kind of thing to see how, because of people doing priestly things for him, it's working out quite well.

So that priesthood is doing redemptive sacrifices, kindness, giving up my privilege for the sake of other people, and hearing confession of sin. See again, if you're Roman Catholic, the only person who can hear confession in a sacramental sense is an ordained priest. In my church, we hear each other's confession of sin, and I think the idea that we should confess our sin only to God is ... Can I put a stupid button on somebody for believing that? Because we need believers to help us in that process. And I think believers should help each other a lot.

It used to be that the pastors were the functional priests. Now most pastors don't do it, they offload it to counselors to do it. And I think we need to get back to a universal priesthood believers where we help each other do spiritual work, of confession and receiving the blessing of God, announcing forgiveness and blessing. These are all in here giving spiritual guidance. I think we should all, part of the church, be priests before God, as well as the church being a priesthood that takes the good news of kindness and grace of God to a world that does not know that.

So where I come on in this, I think every believer is a priest and should be better at it, and the church as a whole has a priestly duty to mediate the goodness of God to the community around. So much to play with there, but I'll just leave it at that.

Another question is what is the relation between the church and the world around us? And again, this is where there's a lot of variation. And in the handout I've got some stuff here that's adapted from Richard Niebuhr's Christ and Culture book, and there's one group that's the church is against culture. And that's the picture that we have of the church going out with the big black Bible and whacking people for being evil-doers out there. And some of this is coming out in the current Christian nationalism movement, which is not a lot of Christian but a lot of nationalism, and we're here to point out the evils of society and condemn them for it.

There's another view that church is over culture, which is a medieval Roman Catholic church. We had the famous picture of the Holy Roman emperor being crowned by the pope and that's what gave legitimacy. And then so it'd be the church over culture. Only the church can say who the king is going to be. I don't know of anybody in the Christian world today, but you certainly find it in say, Iran, where the power structure is really the mullahs, not the political leaders.

There's a church and culture that are two different spheres, and that would be Luther's phrase, where they're side by side each having their areas of responsibility. The more Calvin perspective is church transforming culture, using political means to accomplish the Christianization of the world around. So his famous experiment to have the Christian city there in Geneva. And here in the United States, there are several cities that were founded here that were founded to be Christian cities, Westminster, California. I was in Westminster recently, nothing even vaguely Christian there, but it was founded as a Christian society. A number of churches back in Michigan same kind of thing.

The common view today would be the church lost in culture. The culture wins, and the church becomes almost a non-factor in the political power of the social culture, which is much more powerful than the church. And the church has become so accommodating at an attempt to be relevant, that it's not much of a church anymore. That's true in a lot of cases.

We have, to some degree, here in the United States, culture against church. The culture is actually antagonistic to church. We find that not in a legal sense, we do find it somewhat in a cultural sense. In other places in the world, that's a huge issue. When I talk to my friends who live in China, for example, in some parts of China, they have to be extremely careful because the culture is very much, the government is very much against the church, and the persecuted church.

So how does the church relate to the culture around us? And what I think, where I come out on this kind of thing, I don't think really the church should be using political means to accomplish the goals of the church. And I'm standing in disagreement with a lot of people I know who just really disagree. "We need to elect Christian officials, put them in power places, and so they can root out the evils in our society in the name of Jesus." I'm super glad for Christians who are good people in government, and there are quite a few of them, profoundly grateful for them. The mayor of Gresham, Oregon, was a member of our ... he's not the mayor anymore, but he's a member of our congregation, and served very well in my judgment. But I don't think the church accomplishes the church's goals by political means.

Where I come out is the church in a prophetic relation to the culture around us. So I think what the church should do is proclaim God's righteousness in deed, and then in word. So we create an alternative community, or we practice discipleship and practice righteousness in our community, and then we do that by word, speaking the righteousness of God, but only after we do it, to a large degree. And then secondly, we expose the evils of society around us, but we always do it in a context of grace. Instead of condemning you evil so-and-so, it should be, "Man, you guys are in a bad spot. We'd be glad to help."

So my approach to how we relate to our culture around us, and we certainly do this in grace in many other churches, I just know my church better than most, is we decided, we sat down as elders here oh, a dozen years ago and said, "Really, if Jesus came and raptured us out of here, would anybody miss us?" And we came to the conclusion, "I'm not sure the city of Gresham would really miss Grace Community Church if we got raptured out." And we said, "That's not okay."

So we sat down and began to think very creatively, along with other churches in our community, what can you do to make a difference? And we found out we could make a lot of difference working with our schools, working with the foster parents system, just a number of different areas that we connect into. The food bank out in East County runs through our building, and then we go out into other buildings around. We run foster parents' night out as an official program where foster parents can drop off their kids, and fully approved, and have a four-hour respite.

The funny thing was under COVID, which happened within my easy memory, we have been having what we call Advent Conspiracy in our building for quite a while. And so we have a neighborhood party, and the local grade school that we have a very good relationship with, advertises Grace Community Church's Advent Conspiracy Party. It's an invitation to the entire neighborhood. "Come in, we've got food, we've got games, we've got clothes available." We even started giving away Christmas trees, then discovered some of the poor people don't have cars, so we'll deliver the Christmas tree to their home for them.

Well under COVID, they shut everything down. We got a call from the people in the city of Gresham saying, "Are you guys not ... Can you not close down your Advent Conspiracy?" And we got thinking, well. So we ended up having an outdoor drive-by Advent Conspiracy, and did it all outside. We had almost twice as many people in that year that we've had at other times. I mean, serve our community with joy, and it's amazing.

Our Vacation Bible School has become a magnet for community kids. Because why? We're serving our community, and we don't even hesitate to put in the name of Jesus there. "You're trying to convert us." "Yep, we sure are. You bet. We think we've got a great idea. Why don't you come join us? We'll give you a free cup of coffee while you're here." Come [inaudible].

But that's how you're prophetically proclaiming Christ's righteousness as a community of disciples by deed first, and then by word. And then when we talk about the evils in our society, we don't do it in a condemning context, but how can we help? A context of grace. I think that's a great way to do things.

How is it a conspiracy? Where did it come from?

Advent Conspiracy. Rick McKinley at Imago Deo did his DMin dissertation at Gordon-Conwell Seminary, and he developed this idea of advent conspiracy from Dallas Willard's Divine Conspiracy. And let's have a conspiracy to spend less, I forget what the four things are, but spend less, love more, and that kind of stuff. And the conspiracy is to be Kingdom of God in the midst of the world. So he just ripped off Dallas Willard's book title, and made it into conspiracy.

So we adopted that as a kind of internal thing, we don't use that term outside the church. But it's really fun. And we have quite a few of those. We have several of those during the year, which are .... It's a lot of work for our church. It's a lot of work. But the community that gathers together as we serve our community is just amazing. We do a lot of different things, tutoring programs, and just a lot of things. And our building, we make available to local civic organizations at nominal rent. And we have people in our building all the time using it for various things. I think we should be the community.

Now, to be fair, to be fair, you're seeing my brethren roots, because my roots are Anabaptist Brethren, Church of the Brethren, and that's the theology of the Brethren Church is to be a community of disciples serving the people around you in goodness, and that's where I'm at, is I'm living out that background. So that's where that's at.

So that's something about the church, the nature of the church is we're a celebrating community of disciples, celebrating the goodness of God, building each other to be more faithful as a community of disciples. But then from this basis of people taking care of each other, loving each other, they're going to reach out to the people who are part of our sociological congregation, but reaching beyond that, to do good in the community.

So one of my key phrases that comes out of Galatians Chapter six, some great things, Paul concludes his chapter here, talks about if someone caught in sin, restore the person gently, watch yourselves. But if you come down to this Verse 10, well, Verse nine, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will receive a harvest if we do not give up." Let's keep on doing good. And then Verse 10, "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." And that's just a watchword for what we do.

We're going to begin with a community believers caring for each others, but we're going to extend that way beyond the walls of our building, way beyond the boundaries of our own community. And I think the way it should be done, and we're not the only ones. There's so many stories. One of the ... East Hill Church is a big Foursquare church just down the street from us. And the pastor's a good friend, and they do a block party, 4th of July block party for the entire city.

And so this guy walked by and they're having this block party and, "What's going on here?" "Oh, we're having a concert. Forgot to say. Here, have a brat and a beer." "Who are you?" "We're East Hill church and we're here celebrating Jesus the 4th of July. Come on, join the party. Here, have a brat and a beer." "You're a what?" "We're East Hill church, and we're here celebrating Jesus. We're having a party. Got some good bands over there, got several different things going on. Come on. Here, have a brat and a beer." "What are you guys doing?" "We're having a celebration." It went on, and finally the guy said, "I never heard of such a thing." "Well, okay, great, we'll tell you about it. Here, have a brat and a beer, and come on in." And the guy became a Jesus follower because he got invited to a party. And it really was a party. It wasn't a bait and switch kind of thing.

But let's celebrate together, invite people to join in the celebration. I think it's a good way to do church. So that's my base idea of what a church is. It's a community of disciples of Jesus Christ with really good news, and we're going to celebrate with love and joy and peace. And we're going to point out the evils, but always from a context of, "Let us help," rather than, "You're miserable sinners going to hell." So that's what we do. Questions?

I've just been thinking about some of the things that, to grab a title, the church gave the world. And the things that attracted to the world at first was our ethics, and our value of life. So actually that's ... culture and Christianity aren't intertwined at that point, but would be an example.

But then you have all the building of schools and hospitals, which starts to pull things a little more intertwined. And then you have the abolition of slavery, starting with the Roman amphitheater up through Wilberforce, where the church really is intertwined with culture at that point. So I'm assuming you wouldn't disagree with any of those things, but it brings them ... they do overlap.

The church and culture very much overlap. And when I use the term culture, we're not separate from the culture, we're a part of it. But we're celebrating Jesus and I'm talking about culture, those who don't celebrate Jesus and some of whom are very antagonistic to Christianity for various reasons. And we certainly have a culture today, again in my take, you've got the devil and his crowd, narcissistic, "What's in it for me?" Power, "I'll hurt you if you get my way," and unrestrained passions, "I do whatever I want whenever I want to make me feel good." That's the ethic of the other gods. And that's the ethic of our mainstream culture in many ... especially out here.

The ethic of Jesus is gather power for the sake of serving, especially the forgotten. You have that non-retaliatory ethic that says love your enemy and feed the one who hurts you. And then you have focused passions for the sake of building relationships. They're completely different views between the spiritual beings here, and then Yahweh and the angels and the people. And we're talking about that war that's behind the culture that goes on.

I grew up in Missouri, and where I grew up till I was in fifth grade, everybody was a Christian. They may not go to church, but everybody was nominally Christian. So the difference between church and culture was not obvious at all, except who went to ... who's part of an official church or not. That's real different out here, and where I'm at, because nobody goes to church here, identifies in Christian unless they got a really commitment to Jesus. So it varies a lot by what your culture is.


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