Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Church Membership and the Declaration of Independence

Questions about church membership confronts head-on and attempts answer a couple of important questions, one of which the Declaration of Independence also attempts to answer:

Is a human being fundamentally defined by a set of "inalienable rights" or by an endowing by their Creator?

Fortunately for America, the Declaration of Independence scrambles the two.
If you are one that leans towards rights, then you will also place less importance on church membership. Persons who have received rights that cannot be taken away are also persons who can freely choose to join (and leave) whatever church they would like, or, more correctly, whatever church will take them. Membership and participation are reduced to and defined by the assent of the member to church practice and doctrine and discipline.
If, on the other hand, you are one that leans towards endowing then you will have a higher view of the church and of membership. A person who understands that any "right" given have been granted by their Creator must ultimately give credit to and be obedient to that Creator. That person will submit to church practice, and doctrine, and when necessary, church discipline as the established Head of the church. All members of a congregation submit to one another as all submit to Christ.
In an increasingly voyeuristic-pluralistic world, the testimony that Church Membership by gifted endowment of the creator brings with it a humble recognition that the "we" of any church have not been gathered by assent but called by decree.

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