It is clear to me that the papists in Protestant clothing we argue against have adopted their pet theology of ecclesiastical idolatry only because they are completely out of touch with reality. These are men who are entirely conditioned by the lame, tamed, politically correct, always nice, superficial, suburban parody of Christianity. In that parody of Christianity, there is always a nice, clean, smiling “church” at the nearest corner of their suburban neighborhood, and therefore no one has the right to decide to not join a “church.”
This parody of Christianity, however, doesn’t have real answers to real problems. And whenever it is confronted by such problems, it is doomed to always entangle itself in self-contradictions.
Here’s a good example of it. Jan Prorok, from the Czech Republic, asked Joseph the Papist the following question:
“I would really love to hear your answer, and I mean it honestly and without any ulterior motives.
Am I supposed to submit to men who in comparison to me lack in discernment, orthodoxy and orthopraxy, because someone, somewhere (who apparently was no better in his discernment, otherwise he would not have ordained them) laid his hands on them? What would you recommend to a person in my situation? What answer does your position have?”
He asked it twice. Joseph the Papist hasn’t replied yet. Meanwhile, he has replied to other, less important and pressing posts. Why?
Because, under the false ecclesiology of the papists, any answer to this question indicts them.
If they say that Jan should nevertheless join a church, no matter how bad its condition is, just to be a member (because it is mandatory, if you are to be a Christian), then there is no argument against joining ANY “church” whatsoever, including a Mormon, or a papist, or an Anabaptist church. After all, if joining a church is more important that its spiritual condition, then all standards for a “church” mean nothing whatsoever. This is clearly not only not Reformed, it is a positively evil and damnable heresy, and teachers who teach it will get heavier judgment.
On the other hand, if they say that in his specific situation he can claim an exception and not join a church, until there is a true church worth joining, then they would be establishing the right and duty of PRIVATE JUDGMENT. But then, that private judgment must be based on some standards, and no one really knows what the right standard is for a true church. Where do we draw the line, and why there, and not higher? What if all the people in all the churches in the US use the same principle to say, “We’ll stay out of the institutional churches, because under the right and duty of private judgment, we judge them all false”? Can our papists then say, “No, Jan can raise the standard for the churches in his country, but y’all should lower your standards for our churches?”
So the papists are forced to either justify joining a false church, or destroy their own pet ideology of mandatory “local church membership.” A tough dilemma, I reckon.
But, of course, all false religion eventually leads to such unsolvable dilemmas, as Van Tail pointed out. Papist ecclesiology, even when in Protestant clothes, is not an exception.
There are times where no there is no true institutional church, and you can’t leave the area (easily or at all): in such cases, it’s time to go underground, or form your own church, with the leader selected by the congregation of faithful believers (to conduct Baptism & the Lord’s Supper), as guided by the Bible and the Holy Spirit and after humbly and truly asking God’s assistance in the matter, especially in the Person of the Holy Spirit (as per the Book of Acts).
For without the power of the Holy Spirit, without the power of the Truth, Righteousness, and Holy Obedience (what I would the Shekinah glory. This is an extra-Biblical term – It is Hebrew for “dwelling” — for a very Biblical concept of God indwelling a religious building (the Temple, in the Bible): I would extend it to God’s Holy Spirit indwelling and empowering any obedient and covenant-keeping man, gathering, or institution.
There are times when God ditches a disobedient church, just as He ditched the perverted Temple worship of long ago, and even the spiritually (and literally) adulterous people of Israel.
And if all the churches are perverted and twisted and evil? God’s blessing, His Shekinah glory, leaves them alll.
“But God can’t dump ALL of His churches in a given area!”
“You mean, like He can’t condemn ALL of the people of a family… a nation… a continent… or a world… to death? You really need to check out the Flood again, or (more appropriately in the West) the narrative of Sodom and Gomorrah.”
“I see no fire from heaven, and I don’t expect to see any either.”
“Over time, God generally acts in less miraculous ways, and His judgements become more predictable. After all, His more hateful enemies slice up their future and ditch it in the medical waste bins of hospitals across the world, while His less damnable enemies — you know, the ones who crucify Christians and humiliate them whenever possible, as their deity and prophet commands — rise to inherit Western Europe, invited in by the local governments.”
“I still don’t see any fire from heaven.”
“There is no need for it. Judgement naturally flows from disobedience and evil… and rest assured, it will be the Arabs (and the Blacks!) who will inherit the Kingdom of God in Western Europe, after their future generations tire of Islam’s ignorance, violence, poverty, oppression, and failure… future generations that will have brown and black skins, not white ones. For obvious reasons.”
God judges churches: but He also judges other collectives, including families, tribes and nations (and so implicitly the Darwinian concept of “races”, so far as it reflects reality), bureaucracies, businesses, universities, guilds, governments, sport teams. Nothing is too small or too trivial to escape His notice: nothing is so big that His sword can’t cut them down to size.
But while it is logical (if implicit) that He judges universities and businesses, it is explicitly taught in the Bible that He judges nations, governments, peoples, tribes… and churches.
And just as political and cultural Babylon is to be abandoned by His people, so must spiritual Babylon be left to her fitting destruction.