Christian Relaunch

Forms of Ekklesia

In "Cosmology" (in the Appendices), the "Conversation" page mentions that there are many forms of accord, and lists some of them, with Notes on their inherent characters.

As a result of the Restoration, each of these forms has become a form of ekklesia, so here I repeat the same list, this time with Notes relating to the situation arising from Defection and Restoration.

Maybe I should also have presented the list under "Defection", with Defection-related notes, but few thoughts have occurred to me on that topic. Maybe that is because there is little to say, or maybe there is plenty but I have failed to notice it. Be that as it may, at present I am including my few thoughts on that topic here. But if enough additional thoughts occur to me, I will separate the two topics.

For each of these forms, the first thing to say is simply: "Come out from among them and be separate", and the main point of repeating the list of forms here is simply to emphasise that they all exemplify the thesis of this item of my creed. But I will not repeat that primary point for each form, which would be tedious. Instead, the Notes consist of some specific secondary points that spring to mind.

Realm Accord Notes
Knowledge Fellowship (See below.)
Knowledge School A godly school has a curriculum that reflects a godly attitude.
Knowledge College The wider the scope of the knowledge whose pursuit is to be shared, the stronger the imperative to apply the separation principle.
Innovation Trade In forming business partnerships, the separation principle should have much weight. Trading accords, being looser and more evanescent, are generally safe, though even here separation is preferable in the rare cases where all else is equal.
Expression Nation "You are ... a separate nation, God's own people." (1st Epistle of Peter 2:9. I see no reason to deny this its full sense.)
Expression Expressive Collaboration (No additional comments.)
Respect Arbitration League * In a spoiled world there is aggression, which needs to be counteracted. So security leagues are needed, and it is generally convenient for these to incorporate arbitration leagues. For details see under "Defection".
* Under restoration, arbitration and counteraction are still required.
* (Also see below.)
Conversation Clique While they did not then explictly distinguish the forms, the routine coming together of the ekklesia described in the New Testament seems to have been mainly a hybrid of congregation and clique, though other forms were no doubt also part of the mix.
Conversation Neighbourhood * In a spoiled world the separation principle urges us to avoid neighbourhood with God's foes.
* In the ekklesia this becomes the formation of godly neighbourhoods.
Altruism Aid Agency (See below.)
Commitment Family (See below.)
Commitment Friendship (No additional comments.)
Decoration Decoration Group (No additional comments.)
Decoration Game As in trade, so in sport: welldoers should generally prefer to form their own teams, but it will often be expedient to play against wrongdoers.
Reverence Congregation In "Congregations" (accessible via the link near the top of this page) I mentioned "celebrate God's creative actions" as a function of congregations. Now we should also celebrate his restorative actions.

Fellowships. In "Cosmology" (in the Appendices), the "Knowledge" page explains in general terms why creeds need to evolve. But the creed of welldoers has especially needed to do so because the ekklesia has always been inflitrated by evildoers.

A heresy is a belief claimed to be godly but incompatible with real godliness.

Christianoid heresies are cases of what Paul of Tarsus called "a different gospel" ("heteron euaggelion"; Galatians 1:6), that is, a false one.

When describing interactions of groups, "heresy" probably denotes a creed or worldview, or a group promoting it, which may conflict with godliness at several points, and I think this was the original sense. But when analysing beliefs, as here, I find it more convenient to regard each such conflict as a separate heresy. No good alternative word occurs to me; "heretical error" seems unduly verbose, while "fatal error" sounds like a computer crash.

Why do heresies arise? I see two factors.

1. From time to time wrongdoers have various motives for wanting to be associated with welldoers, and to feel united with them.

2. The thinking of welldoers is always to some degree influenced by wicked attitudes, hence the ongoing need to "be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Rom 12:2). Such influences sometimes become far-reaching.

Since the gospel was revealed, the main heresiogenic attitudes have been Hellenism and Humanism, often via the Scholastic cogniframe. It would be good to elucidate these connections, and probably show them in a matrix.

A reformation is a rebuttal of a heresy, as part of a credal revision or otherwise. Such rebuttals help selves to reach a point where God's realigning grace can operate, and to work out the consequences of receiving that grace.

Where a heresy is an extreme, and the corresponding truth is the mean, an "equal and opposite" heresy, to the other extreme, often arises as a reaction. A reformation, however, is not the opposite extreme but a restatement of the mean.

A real friend of God may inadvertantly believe heresies, but he never persists in a heresy after confronting the corresponding reformation, that is, after someone has "explained God's way to him more accurately" (Acts 18:26).

"Reject a heretical man after a few warnings, for he is warped and wicked."

(atttributed to) Paul of Tarsus, Epistle to Titus 3:10-11. (Greek hairetikon anthropon.)

Arbitration Leagues. In principle God always says to Pharaoh, "Let my people go .... Our cattle also must go with us .... For we must take of them to serve Yahweh" (Exodus 5.1, 10.26). God wants his folk to live and spend as he guides, not as gangsters see fit, and if expedient they should fight for the freedom to do so. In 1st Corinthians 6:1-6, Paul suggests that disputing welldoers should appoint their own arbitrators rather than appeal to wrongdoers, applying the principle of separation. He may have meant only ad hoc appointments, but I see no reason not to extend the proposal. It is true that the New Testament authors seem to have overlooked the need for these arbitration leagues to be security leagues, but this is understandable: Rome then generally allowed residents to go about their business unmolested, and occasionally protected welldoers from molestation by irate idolwrights, so the question never arose.

Aid Agencies. The separation principle pertains to the choice of fellow-donors, not to the choice of beneficiaries. We should do good to all selves, and if need arises nearby I should help without delay and without catechising. However, there is also a place for economic calculation, our more carefully planned aid should be directed where it will do most good, and in general God's friends are more likely to use aid well than are his foes. This is assumed in the New Testament epistles, where Paul is heard organising relief for "the ekklesias", and advises his reader to "do good to all, but especially to the household of trust".

Families. Godly men should not take wicked brides. This is fairly widely held; indeed, outside the realm of reverence it is the only form of Christian Separation to be widely accepted.

But suppose a welldoer finds himself married with a wrongdoer. (Maybe when he took her she seemed godly, or he was realigned subsequently.) Even if she remains generally obedient, the best adaptation may be to divorce her and transfer her to a wrongdoer. (Paul of Tarsus suggests this in 1st Corinthians 7:15, though he expresses the point in terms of the prevailing Egalitarianism, either failing to notice the need to challenge it or seeking to avoid complications.)

Back to God's friends seek accord with each other.