Originally posted by DragonFriend
No. I was hoping someone else would have one. Surely there's one Christian on this site that has a question that needs discussion/answering.
If there are no other takers, I would like to suggest a topic.
What importance does the church hold for the believer? Specifically, where are the lines drawn wherein the church is a positive institution versus a negative one?
Naturally, as is told by the scriptures it is good for us to commune with fellow believers. This is only right and natural. Men of like mind meet for facilitation on a variety of matters towards positive ends under a vast array of topics. Surely, like is true of theology as well. Naturally, and as many people can attest I am sure, attending religious services can and does have a very positive effect. Many of the positive effects are obvious. Belonging to a community of people of like spirituality has many benefits, not to mention communal worship, etc.
To the converse, I think it is blatently and painfully apparent that there is also a fallacy to this sort of organization, wherein the church heirarchy overtakes the community in thought and action. We can see this plainly today, where the church acts as a group of influence upon the community in a....shall we say....less than constructive and amiable manner. Specifically, I would point towards examples of the church dictating micro-managing the every day affairs of people, casting judgement of morality based upon rather vague notions (telling the congregation how to vote for example). This extends into mobilizing the congregation to take pro-active measures to intrusively force/influence people/organizations outside of the church to adhere to their demands of purported morality. Assuredly, I do not mean to infer that any and all communal representation as a group is negative, but the key words are "outside of the church". Attempting to govern and edict upon that and those which are not of the church.
This is not only obvious fallacy, but....I find it to be....well....rather unlike that which has been outlined by scripture (the kindest way I can put it), if not outrageously socially unacceptable and disrespectful. It is my stance that the church is there to guide the individual. The individual then makes his personal influence upon thier local. The key is the individual as the middle man. A person exherting influence is socially acceptable and sociologically normative behaviour. His motive is his own to keep. It is then his burden to exhibit the positives of his proposed course of action/inaction, and for his community to judge upon its merits. The problem with the theological institution (in this case a Christian one for purposes of this discussion) is its fundamental inability to approach the situation under this premise. By its very nature, it does not delve in the realms of judged merit based upon mutually sociologically positive benefits and communal decisions (for the greater part). This, atleast, is my observation and understanding.
It is my conclusion through personal observation and conjecture that a destructive/intrusive theistic organization is usually formed when the organization becomes of a certain size and/or spiritual leadership decisions are transferred fromt the local to the top. Certainly, I do not mean to insinuate that spiritual leadership should not be given from the heads of the organization. Heavens no! However, there seems to be an intangible line which some organizations cross, wherein the church begins making the religion instead of the religion making the church.
Just my thoughts on the matter. Curious how other Christians feel about it. I know this could apply to any religious group, but I am especially, if not specifically, interested in the Christian perspective.