Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Ancient House Ecclesiae and The Present Ecclesia

Written 4/8/2009 and slightly edited 5/24/16.

I'm not faulting the house church model, so much as I'm stating that it appears to have been a temporary necessity in the Christian congregation's history. Daniel Harrington writes: "The house church was a necessary but transitional step in the history of the early church." His comments pertain strictly to the first century. So, in the first century, 40-50 Christians might have gathered in one of the city house churches. But I have also read--in Witherington, I believe--that certain households (like Philemon's) could hold 100 people for Christian worship. So the first-century gatherings might not have been confined to 30, 40 or 50 people. And I would say that socio-economic conditions necessitated the early house churches. I tend to agree with Harrington that the house churches should not be romanticized or necessarily viewed as models for today. Now I am not suggesting that small gatherings should be disbanded, but something had to be done with the book study/Bible study arrangement. Sorry to say that socio-economic factors partly necessitated that the GB adjust one of the meetings. Family Worship is another factor. I would submit that a larger gathering is in keeping with the notion of a universal ecclesia, a notion which we encounter in Ephesians.

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