14 April 2022
What would a Covenant church look like?
It would resemble a synagogue; that much is obvious from New Testament history. But it would not be an institution whose identity rests on theological orthodoxy. It would be a family that focuses first and foremost on the welfare of the Covenant. And the Covenant is not theology; faith in God cannot be reduced to intellectual structure.
The issue is not whether a theological frame of reference is present; it is whether that frame of reference is the anchoring point. Mainstream organized Christian religion presumes faith, but never really teaches it. Part of the problem is that the word "faith" is typically defined as the intellectual content and physical practice of religion. Faith is another word for your personal commitment to God as your feudal Master. What you think or do about it doesn't matter until the issue of commitment is settled.
My convictions warn that it is utterly impossible to reform the current notions about what a church is and does. Anything I say on the matter will pass right by the leadership. Convincing the leadership is not my calling in the first place. My mission is to reach out to those who know that the current mainstream system of Christian religion in America does not answer their call to faith in Christ.
While I would prefer to see people involved in real-world covenant communities, that's not for me to decide. The real issue is faith itself. The two biggest hindrances to claiming all the promises God offers are the lack of convictions and Covenant. If you keep your religion in your head, it will always be a man-made product. When you move your conscious awareness into your heart, and you begin the process of letting your convictions be the ultimate rule of all things, then you are on solid ground. And the complete failure of religious organizations to understand and embrace the Covenant as a covenant is what hinders people from drawing meaningful boundaries against sin.
I'll go so far as to say that if you feel led to build a covenant community of faith, whoever is leading as the elder/pastor should offer an organized statement of covenant. That is, do your best to understand the demands of the Covenant of Christ within your cultural context, and offer some statement of it so that folks know what they are getting into. I'll cite this example as more than enough statement to clarify what the Covenant means to someone living in the US. It's the community covenant for Radix Fidem.
Of course, if you aren't interested in that community, then that covenant statement may not mean much to you. That's the whole point. It's not an attempt to codify the Covenant of Christ. It's just an expression of what His Covenant means to those people. Nothing can displace the personal covenant between you and Christ. But if you intend to join others, there has to be some kind of boundaries that people can recognize so that people aren't forced to hash out over and over again certain kinds of detailed discussion. A covenant statement saves a lot of heartache. That's what you would expect a good covenant elder to do.
You cannot objectify faith in Christ. It must remain personal all the way through; it's a covenant relationship with God and with His people. The whole point of religion is to breathe life into your dealings with God's Creation while in your fallen form. A critical element is that everyone serves someone else. Unless you are the covenant elder yourself, you are obliged to walk under someone else who is. They don't rule your faith; they help you organize it so that a community is possible. The discipline of tolerating someone else's human leadership is part of holiness.
But it's not leadership as exercised in mainstream Christian religious organizations in America today. That's inherently depersonalized; it's an attempt to make it all objective, as if that somehow makes it fair and equal. Well, fair and equal is not a biblical value. The Bible stands on the assumption that no two of us are interchangeable, so "fairness and equality" is not possible. It's a human myth that we need to ditch. Creation as a whole is inherently feudal.
In a genuine covenant community of faith, you don't embrace everything the elder says and does. All that's required is that you tolerate him and his guidance. Yes, it has to be a human male by the Covenant teaching of the Bible. You only have to agree to abide by his decisions in the group; he cannot make decisions for your soul, and should not want to do so. He's just the shepherd serving the Shepherd of Heaven. The primary reason we seek to implement a religious response to faith is to show ourselves and our God that we can sacrifice certain things as fallen creatures so we can find peace with Him. One of the things we sacrifice is some measure of self will for the sake of fellowship and communion.
You don't cease to be the unique individual God made. You restrain your words and actions as a sacrifice to God. You retain full freedom to walk away when your convictions demand it, and need not worry about hard feelings. A proper community shepherd won't take offense at such things. People are the treasure, not his doctrine or practices. The doctrine and practice are simply how he organizes himself for the task, and he shouldn't take himself that seriously.
Can you imagine an organized church that works like that? I rather doubt I'll see it anytime soon.
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