Schism and the church at Thyatira

Status
Not open for further replies.

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Rev. 2
18 "œAnd to the angel of the church in Thyatira write,
"˜These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass: 19 "œI know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first. 20 Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. 21 And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. 22 Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. 23 I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.
24 "œNow to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden. 25 But hold fast what you have till I come. 26 And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations"”
27 "˜ He shall rule them with a rod of iron;
They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter´s vessels'-
as I also have received from My Father; 28 and I will give him the morning star.
29 "œHe who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."´

Since schism seems to be the hot topic of the day I thought I would start a more exegetically based discussion with one of the biblical examples that Thomas Boston uses in his sermon "The Evil and Danger of Schism." Here's a link to the sermon if you wish to read it.
http://www.naphtali.com/schism.htm

On to the discussion question.

If leaving the corrupt church and forming another congregation was a viable option for faithful Christians, then why didn't Jesus instruct the faithful of Thyatira to leave and seperate from these wicked and immoral false teachers in the church? It seems that Jesus instructed the saints to stick it out and be faithful and let God handle the wicked guys in His own time. In fact, I don't think any of the saints in these commands to the seven churches are told to seperate. I realize there are other issues tied into this but I thought I would try and turn the Board's discussion to reflect on some Scriptures rather than later historical practice. Any thoughts?
:book2:
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I am going to give a simplistic answer for starters (pretty much the same as Calvin's) which will justify the Reformer's decision to split with Rome (ie, Calvin's view).

Ought we to stay in the Church to Reform the church while the Church still has the marks of a true church? This keeps us from breaking with the Bride of Christ while at the same time it doesn't grant autonomy to the Church (ie, Rome's view).

But this raises the question (to which I think the Reformed answers are adequate): What are the marks of a true church?
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
That is another interesting feature though about these 7 churches. No mention is made of the marks, at least in the same way we use the terminology. And leaving is never mentioned as an option.

[Edited on 9-8-2005 by puritansailor]
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Originally posted by puritansailor
That is another interesting feature though about these 7 churches. No mention is made of the marks, at least in the same way we use the terminology. And leaving is never mentioned as an option.

[Edited on 9-8-2005 by puritansailor]

You're right. I guess my presupposition is that there has to be marks of a true church, but is that a justified presupposition?
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Regardless of how the marks are viewed, Christ calls this church a church. That's enough for now for the sake of discussion. My question though is, in light of this passage of Scripture, where Christ clearly tells the faithful to remain in this body, in a church where by today's standard, the faithful would have left long ago, how can we justify all the schisms we see today? I know this inevitably goes by to Rome and Trent, but I have in mind more the Presbyterian churches. They have split over issues less difficult than Thyatira. How should we understand these cases in light of Thyatira?
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
The strong lover of peace and unity in the church, James Durham, when pressed by the constant refrain and clamor of, when can we leave, when can we leave, can we leave now!conceded if there was no other way to live at peace in a local church, then let the dissatisfied depart to another local church close by. By today's un-established church standards, it is wise in my opinion to follow Durham in not making every contention a case for church discipline and let the dissatisfied depart; who, no doubt in some cases, may be the doctrinally sound party, if not the less contentious. See Durham's Concerning Scandal throughout, especially parts 2 and 4.

[Edited on 9-8-2005 by NaphtaliPress]

[Edited on 9-8-2005 by NaphtaliPress]

fixed...

[Edited on 9-9-2005 by Dan....]
 

Arch2k

Puritan Board Graduate
Originally posted by puritansailor
If leaving the corrupt church and forming another congregation was a viable option for faithful Christians, then why didn't Jesus instruct the faithful of Thyatira to leave and seperate from these wicked and immoral false teachers in the church? It seems that Jesus instructed the saints to stick it out and be faithful and let God handle the wicked guys in His own time. In fact, I don't think any of the saints in these commands to the seven churches are told to seperate. I realize there are other issues tied into this but I thought I would try and turn the Board's discussion to reflect on some Scriptures rather than later historical practice. Any thoughts?
:book2:

Do you think that the argument that "leaving the church" is not mentioned in this case could be considered "arguing from silence"?

I don't know for sure where I stand on when/if it is ok to leave a church.

On one hand, I see only a visible/invisible church distinction made in scripture. Sure there are several congregations, but would it be wrong to change from one to the other? How is it different from moving to a different city? Church discipline issues aside, are you not just changing addresses?

Just some questions.

I'm reading some of the articles posted earlier. More to come, Lord willing.
 

WrittenFromUtopia

Puritan Board Graduate
Originally posted by Draught Horse
I am going to give a simplistic answer for starters (pretty much the same as Calvin's) which will justify the Reformer's decision to split with Rome (ie, Calvin's view).

Ought we to stay in the Church to Reform the church while the Church still has the marks of a true church? This keeps us from breaking with the Bride of Christ while at the same time it doesn't grant autonomy to the Church (ie, Rome's view).

But this raises the question (to which I think the Reformed answers are adequate): What are the marks of a true church?

Is it not accurate to say that Rome is no longer a Church after the Council of Trent?
 

Scott

Puritan Board Graduate
Patrick: Great thread. The example of Thyatira is important. It is hard to understand how to use it in our present circumstances, though. Here are two considerations.

[1] The Church in Thyatira was original. This relates to the point about whether a faction in Thyatria should break off and form another church. Thyatira was not a split-off (schism) from some other church. So, we can see at least a high duty to remain part of an original church unaffected by schism. Now, how do we apply this principle to a church that is already in schism (i.e. nearly asll presbyterian churches around today)? Is it illegetimate to break these schismatic groups up even more?

I suppose I would say yes, it is wrong in most cases. One reason is that the Bible says we are to strive for visible unity. Whatever schism is, it is disunity. Further, the Bible teaches that the model of our church government should have one overarching government (see, e.g. Acts 15). The Church essentially had this until 1054 when the Church was divided into two parts. Then the western part was fractured into countless pieces during the Reformation. Still, the biblical model involves governmental union and cooperation. The existence of independent congregations and numerous denominations makes returning to this model more difficult.

[2] The congregation in Thyatira was the only one in the area. This related to the point about whether individual people should leave one church to go to another. In Thyatira, people could not simply leave to go to another pre-existing true church, as can people today. So, this makes it hard to understand how we should operate in the context of modern Christian pluralism.

Scott
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
In application to our present circumstances, it would appear that the splitting must stop. Obviously, we can't be responsible for what generations of schisms have done to the church today. But we can be faithful where God has put us, and work from there to improve things. I think it's the "cut and run" mentality that must change. But that is hard to do when it's so much easier to just leave and join a more faithful church. The examples of the Reformers really doesn't work well for us either. They were faithful until they were kicked out of Rome (i.e. Trent). But then the Protestants remained the faithful body, it was Rome who "left" and became schismatic. I think that should be the model we follow. The faithful should remain so that the opposition are either won over to Christ again or they no longer feel comfortable staying and form their own schism, rather than take over (hopefully, they would be excommunicated though). I think Machen initially was a good example of this as well. He remained faithful until he was kicked out. These are just preliminary observations of course, based upon the fact that I don't see any precedent to leave a corrupt body. I do see plenty of precedent for faithfulness in spite of opposition, even from within the church, as illustrated with Thyatira. Any more thoughts?
 

blhowes

Puritan Board Professor
Rev 2:5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

If a situation in a church arises where repentance in necessary, and there is no repentance, how can you tell if Jesus has 'removed the candlestick out of his place'? If Jesus has removed the candlestick, shouldn't the faithful seek another place to worship?
 

blhowes

Puritan Board Professor
2Jo 1:9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.
2Jo 1:10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:
2Jo 1:11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

If a person finds themselves in a church characterized by the person in verse 9, wouldn't they be warranted to leave the church?
 

Puritan Sailor

Puritan Board Doctor
Bob, those are good questions. And I think the Presbyterian form of government is the only meaningful way a believer could have recourse in such cases where false teachers dominate. In the presbyterian system, the beleiver can appeal to the higher authority of presbytery and GA regarding a false teacher. Not so in an Independent scheme, where most of our churches are today in America.

But even in those cases, it would seem to me that God would vindicate the faithful in good time when those false teachers are finally judged. :detective:
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top