Here’s a brief statement from Joseph and Jonathan to wrap up our ecclesiology series here. Previous posts:
Affirmation 1: We agree that the believer’s standing before Christ is what and as it is without the mediating voice of any man or institution.
Affirmation 2: We agree that the visible church serves the purposes of the mutual affirmation of faith and (if necessary) de-affirmation of faith.
Affirmation 3: We agree that the visible church only becomes the mouthpiece of Christ inasmuch as it accurately articulates and applies the word of God to a person, question or situation (the answers to which are often formulated in explicit doctrines and statements of faith).
Affirmation 4: We agree that the individual Christian can just as accurately articulate Christ’s word to a person, question, or situation – even in disagreement with and toward the institutional church.
Affirmation 5: We agree that the accurate articulation of Christ’s word to a person, question, or situation is spoken with the authority of that word.
Question 1: What do we mean when we say that the institutional church affirms the who and the what of the gospel “authoritatively”? What is the relationship of that “authority” to the believer’s submission to and participation in that judgment?
Question 2: Is the visible church to be equated with the totality of local institutional churches, or does it have a logically prior existence of which the institutions are an expression?
Question 3: In what sense is the individual Christian “authorized” to speak on behalf of Christ with respect to the who and the what of the gospel – as compared to the institutional church?
Question 4: Can an individual Christian exercise the keys of the kingdom in any sense, or are the keys of the kingdom innately and exclusively political and corporate?