Archive - May 10, 2018

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Bestowing Order

Below is a post to one of the discussions forums for my New Testament class as Church Divinity School of the Pacific. It is partly shaped by events going on with ecclesiastical organizations around where I live, and particularly about the exclusion of a friend of mine from a church organization ostensibly because of where she chooses to worship on Sunday mornings. It is a topic close to my heart since I was excluded from the same group for different reasons a few months ago.

A recurring theme through this week’s readings about 1 Corinthians has been bestowing order and emphasizing ‘what is more advantageous in building the church” (Ajer, 1). Schussler-Fiorenza refers to 1 Cor 14:40 in emphasizing that Paul “is concerned that everything 'should happen decently and in the right order'”. (Schussler-Fiorenza, 1). Boring describes the issues saying “What they [the Corinthians] failed to discern was the nature of the church as the body of Christ.” (Boring Kindle Location 8314).

Indeed, Boring sums it up nicely with “This problem of elitism carries over into the following discussion of the spiritual gifts”. The issue of women speaking in church or having their heads uncovered was an issue local to Corinth where such things harmed the efforts to build the church. Over the past few decades we have had the mirror of this, not letting women speak in church harmed the efforts to build the church. Likewise the exclusion of homosexuals today harms the efforts to build the church.

This becomes most pointed in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord”. What is this unworthy manner? It is a manner that does not bestow order, a manner that does not build the church, and perhaps most importantly, a manner that does not treat everyone at the table, Greek or Jew, rich or poor, gay or straight, male or female, white or black, progressive or liberal, Orthodox, Episcopal, or non-denominational as equals.

I suspect that we all eat the bread in an unworthy manner much more often than we are willing to admit.