Friday, February 12, 2010

Re-Thinking Church Membership (Part 32) - Alan Knox on Scriptural Language of Membership

Alan Knox contends in a recent post that the biblical passages on membership can be misunderstood due to connotations carried by the English word "membership" that don't occur with the Greek word:

The Greek term translated “member” is closer to the English terms “limb” or “part”.
What’s the danger? Well, someone can become a “member” of a group by decision of either the individual or the group. However, a “limb” (i.e., arm or leg) does not decide to become part of a body, nor does a body decide that a “limb” is now part of it. The “limb” is part of the body by definition… identity.

In fact, this is exactly what Paul is teaching in the passages above. If you read the context, you’ll find that [we] are “members” of one another – we do not have to choose to become “members” of one another. We find that God through his Spirit makes us “members” of one another, the group does not decide that someone may become a “member”. While this language of choosing and deciding is applicable for the English term “member”, it is not applicable in the Pauline usage of this concept.

Thus, we cannot translate the scriptural language of “members of one another” into an organizational concept of membership, in which either party can choose or decide to become a member of a group.
I have reached the same conclusion without going to the Greek. It is understood by Paul's words that the "members" he has in mind when describing the church are limbs and organs and not paying country club participants whose membership can be revoked by the board or by themselves. I am my brother's brother whether we have dinner together at my house or his in-laws' house. Membership in Christ's body doesn't change based on our location on this planet. When we gather, we are members of one another.

Read the entire series here.

Part 31 . . . . . . . . Part 33

1 comment:

  1. Dan Smith in Reno2/16/10, 1:43 PM

    I couldn't agree more. I choose Jesus and and then loaded down with all those sinners in His body/family. How unfair.

    That said, how can a disciple (as a member of that body/family) fulfill the "one another" verbs as well as receiving them AND submit to shepherds without being part of a local manifestation of the body/family?