Monday, November 30, 2015

Taxes and Churches

A friend who likes to keep me on my toes brought this meme to my attention last week with the question "Can you not recognize the outcry?". The answer to his question is a resounding yes. I do recognize the outcry. Maybe, as a Christian who thinks that the honor of Jesus is the most important thing, I feel people promoting themselves and using Christianity as a pretense more poignantly offensive than a non-believer would. To me, a pastor in a mansion and a church which doesn't help the hurting is not just unfortunate; it is a personal betrayal of principles and a Person which I hold dear. Still, let me nitpick.

Memes are not known for their careful logic or accurate facts, but more for vague innuendo and broad strokes. Since, by their viral nature, memes eventually fall into the hands of people who take them at face value, let me look at this particular meme. It makes four statements, two of which are false and two of which are misleading.

When the church looks like this

This is a picture of Lakewood, either the largest or one of the largest churches in the country, depending on how you count.The median (half bigger, half smaller) church in the US has 75 attenders.
It is a bad idea to base policy on an extreme outlier, especially since taxing churches will hit the smaller churches hardest and will inherently favor the "big business" churches that are the subjects of scandals. I can't cite this, because I don't even know how you would begin to collect the data, but I think it is a reasonable assumption (which I confirm anecdotally) that as a percentage, small churches benefit their communities more than megachurches. Eliminating taxes makes the situation implied by the first two pictures worse, not better.

In any case, "the church" doesn't look like this. Misleading.

And the pastor's house looks like this

This is not the house of a pastor, but of Paul Crouch (some profanity at destination of link, but it was where I could find the same picture used), founder of the cable channel TBN a larger television group than Fox or CB, . He and his wife, both serving as executives of the broadcasting network, made over $750,000 collectively. I am not a fan of TBN and they are not normative for Christians. Their shady family run boards mean they can't join the Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability and the Christians who The Friendly Atheist quotes to show that Christians liked Paul Crouch when he died are all of a similar ilk to Crouch himself (Creflo Dollar doesn't exactly speak for the Billy Graham crowd). Most pastors, even of megachurches, live in average homes for the most successful people in their fields, almost always with a college education and often a grad school one. The average full time American pastor receives total compensation of about $55,000 per year. The average person with a Bachelor's Degree makes about $51,000, while those with professional degrees make an average of $100,000. Many pastors have Masters of better, but 90% of pastors make less than $89,000 per year (see the link about pastor compensation above).

Some pastors are excessively compensated, but the IRS can take away tax exemption for it (see the final point). Creflo Dollar won't be getting any donations from me. One oft used example is really not one: Joel Osteen (of whose theology I am not really a big fan) lives in a mansion in River Oaks, but takes no salary from the church and makes all of his money off of books, so there are some cases like that where financially, he is not a pastor at all. Some examples like that confuse the issue.

But the mansion pictured is not owned by a pastor. It is not normal. It is not accepted. False.

While 1 in 3 children live in poverty

About 1 in 5 American children live in poverty (plus or minus 2%). Global numbers are hard to find (the definition of poverty is loose - UNICEF doesn't even try), but presumably taxing churches implies American children. 33% overstates the real number by 65%. I will clarify, 1 in 5 children living in poverty is too high, but solving it is notoriously difficult. How do you help a poor child who is poor because their parents are meth heads? WIC gets exploited every day, by people who trade groceries for drugs. More direct means, like school lunches and take home meals are already in place. It is  thorny problem, but churches often run food pantries and feed kids hot meals in person, minimizing the risk of abuse (we do both).

Taxing churches might produce $71 billion dollars a year (I'm going to guess that didn't pick the study most favorable to churches, but I'm not going to subscribe to investigate their methods). That amounts to 1/3 of the amount the federal government pays on debts each year. If the United States government has a real interest in making sure no children are in poverty, taxing churches is not the windfall which will finance it, but a budget blip of about $4500 per impoverished child. That may sound like a lot of money per person, until you start calculating. Then you quickly find out that it is less than $2 per day.

I don't think it is possible to calculate the long term effects with any reasonable accuracy, but it is safe to say that there will be fewer churches if they are taxed, so $4500 per impoverished child is the most you would ever get.

To recap: 1 in 3 children do not live in poverty. That 1 in 5 do is a terrible thing, but taxing churches won't solve it and in my experience, would cripple some of the on-the-ground organizations that do the most to help. The meme overstates by 65%. All that makes this False.

It's time to tax the churches and pastors

Pastors are already taxed, of course, and are treated as self-employed for most purposes. That means certain things can be deducted, just like any other profession, Pastors (in general, me included), pay the employer and employee portions of both medicare and social security. Pastors do benefit from parsonages not being taxable, but if the value of rent for the parsonage plus the value of cash compensation is excessive , the church can lose its tax exempt status, just like it can for advocating partisan politics

Churches are taxed on unrelated income, like renting property, selling books, et cetera. Just not on donations or property (churches are also exempt from sales tax on times bought for ministry purposes). 

I think I'm being generous by categorizing this whole statement as Misleading.


This has already taken much longer and been much more work than I anticipated (I also had a root canal today and some Tylenol 3 is floating through my brain), so I will write a post on some objections to taxing churches later this week. Analyzing the bad arguments of this meme will have to do for today.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Refuge and the refugee

Putting yourself first is antithetical to Christianity.  In what may be Jesus' most famous parable (Luke 10:25-37), He describes a man laying on the side of the dangerous road to Jerusalem,  left for dead, as a priest and a Levite walk by. They walked by because on this road,  people were known to pretend to be hurt so their friends lying in wait could take advantage of your distraction and rob and kill you. They walked by because contact with a dead body would prevent them from carrying out ceremonial duties.  They walked by because they were in a hurry.  To borrow the language of MLK, they walked by because they worried about what would happen to them if they stopped. 
In the great reversal,  a Good Samaritan (hated by the Jews for their racial mixture and religion,  think of it as the Good Half-Black Muslim in Arkansas) thought about not what would happen to him if he stopped,  but what would happen to the other man if he didn't. He risked his life helping him, bound up his wounds and carried him on the back of his donkey with him and gave the equivalent of $200 to an innkeeper to care for him, promising to pay any other expenses the man accrued when he returned.  He laid on the line life and possessions,  took the man close and saved him,  though the man could do nothing in return.  This is the model Jesus holds up for fulfilling the command to love our neighbor: dangerous, intimate,  messy loss without the opportunity fot profit. 
I would be remiss to not point out that Jesus is the true and better Good Samaritan, laying aside all of His riches in the heavens to come and lay down his life so those who asked him (believing He would save them when religion and ethicism passed by,  crying out in faith to his only hope) could be rescued,  healed,  clothed and carried to a place prepared for them.
I am not astute enough of a political observer to say how many refugees should be accepted from where or how they should be vetted (admittedly,  almost impossible in a world of anonymous online radicalization), but I am a pastor-theologian, disturbed by how few of the Christians responding to the refugee crisis seem to be distinctively Christian at all.
If your response treats self preservation as virtuous, it is not a Christian response.  If your response does not prioritize reaching these refugees (radical terrorists,  like Apostle Paul née Rabbi Saul, or not) with the love of God and the gospel of Jesus,  it is not a Christian response.
There are dangers in the other direction,  such as forgetting Romans 12 or Genesis 9:6, but that is not the mistake I see the Christians I know making.  Instead,  I see many who are Christians in word and deed when they are comfortable becoming pragmatists when things get difficult.  That is an integrity issue.
I have no delusions of changing your mind with these arguments. As I mentioned,  I don't have a particular policy to recommend or a process I think should be embraced.  I am just disturbed by an unChristlike attitude. People are afraid and that is powerful.  But I hope you consider Jesus,  whose perfect love casts out fear. I hope you are willing to ask yourself: if I didn't believe the gospel,  how would my response be different?  If it doesn't,  you have a problem. 
If you aren't a Christian and are put off by what you are seeing,  I hope you will ignore the foibles of Jesus' followers and see what Jesus stands for.  You are the man on the side of the road,  dying in sin and abandoned by every one who you thought you could count on. Inside you is the same capacity for evil that the Paris terrorists possessed,  just subdued by the benefits of your environment,  but creeping out in prejudices and moments of blind hate. The religious and the ethical pass you by when they see what you are,  but not Jesus or those who are rightly following Him. He gave Himself up so that if you admit you are have lived as a rebel against God and place your trust in the knowledge that Jesus died for you and rose again,  He will pluck you from death, heal you with His wounds and give you a place forever.  All you have to do is repent and believe.  Turn from your sin and trust.  Ask and pray. Why settle for imperfect imitations when Jesus is ready for you now?

Friday, April 10, 2015

5 Attributes of Punishment, pt 1

This is a follow up post to 7 Things Accomplished on Easter.

When Jesus died on the cross, many things took place. There are several explanations in the Bible for Jesus' death, not to be harmonized and condensed, but to be understood as explaining separate aspects of His work. In his book Christian Theology, Millard Erickson lists five different theories of the atonement:
         "The Socinian Theory: The Atonement as Example
         The Moral-Influence Theory: The Atonement as a Demonstration of God’s Love
         The Governmental Theory: The Atonement as a Demonstration of Divine Justice
         The Ransom Theory: The Atonement as Victory over the Forces of Sin and Evil
         The Satisfaction Theory: The Atonement as Compensation to the Father"[1]

These various theories should not really be thought of as competing, but as each explaining some different angle of what Jesus did. Like any ;l’ty;ilu;tyo 0o’ljlk metaphor (which they certainly are, nothing like the cross occurs in our experience), they are accurate when used properly, but dangerous when pushed beyond their intended scope.

While I hope to blog in the future about these different aspects of the work of Christ, the angle of explanation which seems to be the easiest to use as a starting point (at least in our culture) is called Penal Substitutionary Atonement. That means that Jesus was given the penalty for my sin, as my substitute, to cover up my guilt before God (to atone/make me at-one with Him).

Legal experts acknowledge 5 purposes for punishment. These are deterrence, incapacitation, rehabilitation, retribution and restoration. To help structure our thoughts, we will see how God's judgment of Jesus addressed each of these reasons. You will see the five theories all present here in some sense, but they do not correspond closely. So let's ask the question: what does the cross actually do?

1.) The Cross Deters
Imagine the cross standing against the darkened sky – the agonized cries of Jesus. How terrible must sin be to earn a penalty like that, where God would have to give up His Son to shame, execution and abandonment? The cross serves as a double deterrent to sin. For the lost, it takes away the opportunity to downplay judgment (Hebrews 10:29); if sin was costly enough for the heir to be punished, what will happen to the rebels?
This deterrent is not limited to the unsaved, but extends to Christians, in a different way. While Christians are not constrained by fear of judgment, they are motivated by something much more positive. Someone may give me a car. If I know nothing about them or what they cost, I may be superficially grateful, but perhaps not deeply moved to protect it. If I recognize that it as a $200,000 luxury sports car, I will probably park in a quarter of a mile away from any other cars, and wrap it in bubble wrap ever night. When I understand the value of something, it is precious to me. When Christians see the cost of forgiveness is the terrible suffering of Jesus, the desire to sin is overcome (1 Peter 1:17-21; 1 Corinthians 6:20). For the believer, the cross is an even more powerful deterrent than it is to the one who is afraid.  

2.) The Cross Incapacitates
Incapacitation can take many forms. Often in our society, incarceration is used to prevent people from committing crimes. Keeping someone in jail (theoretically) keeps them from committing another crime. Historically, exile accomplished the same thing – if someone is out of my country, at least they commit no crimes here. The supreme method of incapacitation is, of course, the death penalty. Those who experience the power of the sword do not err again.
Jesus’ death did not incapacitate Him by any means (it was impossible for death to hold Him – Acts 2:24). Instead, by purchasing the world with His blood, Jesus bought the rights to the title deed to the world (Revelation 5:9-10). It is by this double authority (as Creator and Purchaser of the cosmos) that Jesus seals Satan up for 1000 years (Revelation 20:1-3).
More profound and more permanent still – the cross incapacitates Satan eternally, and even incapacitates death itself (Hebrews 2:14-15; 2 Timothy 1:10). Since the cross takes away our sins - and if God is for us who can be against us? – death itself loses the power to be ultimately victorious. Though Jesus was bound, executed and exiled from His people for a season, His death ultimately binds sin, casts it away from us and  kills it forever.  

Come back for the next part on Monday. 

[1] Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013), 714.

Friday, April 3, 2015

7 Things Accomplished on Easter

As we approach Easter and the celebration of our Lord’s Resurrection, l would like to share 7 things accomplished when Jesus rose from the dead (largely spurred from studying I. Howard Marshall’s book: Aspects of the Atonement).

1.    Easter Confirms Jesus’ Teaching

Acts 2:22 says that Jesus proved who He was by signs and wonders. Throughout the Old Testament, there was a two pronged approach to testing the validity of new teaching. If it contradicted what came before, it was false, no matter what else happened (Deuteronomy 13:1-3). If it matched exactly what had come before, there was no need for a sign. If it was consistent with what came before, but went beyond it, miracles would verify. Jesus said that the sign He would bring to a wicked and adulterous generation would be the sign of Jonah (Matthew 12:39-40) – on the third day He conquered death. The resurrection shows that Jesus is a true prophet.

2.       Easter Accepts Jesus’ Death as Complete

In the Old Testament, when propitiation was made for some sin, God’s forgiveness was shown by the end of the punishment. When Phinehas performed a representative execution, the plague was lifted from Israel (Numbers 25:7-8). When the people cried to God, the judges delivered them from the oppressors they had earned. When David offered on the threshing floor, the Angel stopped His path of destruction (1 Chronicles 21:26-27). Each time, the sufficiency of the offering was shown by the end of the plague. In the same way, when Jesus rose from the dead, it showed that God had lifted the curse of death, because the penalty was completely paid.

3.       Easter Acquits Jesus from Human Judgment

Jesus had been condemned both by the secular authorities (in the person of Pontius Pilate) and the religious authorities (in the person of Caiaphas). They had found Jesus guilty. Doubtless, prior to this many people had been executed for crimes they had not committed, but they were still sinners worthy of death (Romans 3:23; 6:23). Jesus being delivered from the power of death was God’s resounding acquittal of His innocent Son (Matthew 27:24).

4.       Easter Makes a Spectacle of Satan

The powers of the universe in rebellion against God enjoyed an incredible control of humanity. Genesis 5:5 begins a sequence of the grim testimony “and he died” which is found nearly 100 times in the Old Testament. As Jesus took the power of death in His hand, truly the pallbearers came to a halt (borrowing language from Luke 7:14). Satan’s greatest triumph was turned into disaster, as the rising of the Lord Jesus showed that by death, the power of death was broken (Colossians 2:15).

5.       Inaugurates the new creation

Easter was the beginning of a new world, a sign that the end has begun. All of the matter which now exists will be recreated, except the body of Jesus. When He returns in power and glory, we will be conformed to Him and ultimately the whole creation will be transformed by His resurrection power. Easter shows that on the first day of a new week, God began His new work – Jesus is the beginning of that creation (Revelation 3:14) and the firstborn of the dead (Colossians 1:18). As 1 Corinthians 15:42-49 reveals, we will take up the image of the heavenly just as we have taken the image of the earthly, what the entire universe groans for began on the Easter morning (Romans 8:22).

6.       Easter Positions Jesus as Advocate

A dead Lord cannot help us, but we have a living High Priest who is always available to work on our behalf. Hebrews 7:23-28 reveals that we have a High Priest who, through His resurrection, will never be unable to help us because of the scourge of death, but who is always available for us. As Job 19:25 tells us, we know that our Redeemer lives. Romans 8:34 puts it in similar language: if God is for us, who can be against us? Jesus died and was raised, and always intercedes on our behalf.

7.       Easter Pardons Jesus as the Representative Man

Jesus, as the second Adam, stands as the federal head of His people. In the first Adam, all were given a sin nature and made subject to death; all those who are in the second Adam are made like Him (Romans 5:14). As God found Jesus not guilty and lifted the penalty of sin from Him, we too escaped that penalty. Everyone who looks at Jesus’ suffering and death and rightly proclaims: “That death ought to have been mine!” and places their trust in Him is united to Him. If we are united to His death through confession of sin, we will be united in His life (Colossians 3:3-4; 2 Corinthians 4:10). In Easter, the innocent Jesus was pardoned in our guilty place.   

Let us close with the triumphant hymn “He is Risen” by PP Bliss:

Hallelujah, He is risen!
Jesus is gone up on high!
Burst the bars of death asunder,
Angels shout and men reply:
He is risen, He is risen,
Living now no more to die.
He is risen, He is risen,
Living now no more to die.
 Hallelujah, He is risen!
Our exalted Head to be;
Sends the witness of the Spirit
That our advocate is He:
He is risen, He is risen,
Justified in Him are we.
He is risen, He is risen,
Justified in Him are we.
 Hallelujah, He is risen!
Death for aye hath lost his sting,
Christ, Himself the Resurrection,
From the grave His own will bring:
He is risen, He is risen,
Living Lord and coming King.
He is risen, He is risen,
Living Lord and coming King.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

This Do in Remembrance of Me

This Sunday, February 8th, our local church will be partaking of the Lord’s Supper as the climax of our evening worship. This Supper will be open for observation to anyone wishing to attend, but participation will be only for members of our local fellowship in good standing.[1]  Guests, even members of sister churches, will not be allowed to participate - we practice closed communion.[2] This will not be a full apologetic for closed communion, but more of a primer on the Lord's Supper to prepare our hearts and minds for this great ordinance.
An ordinance is a recurring practice laid out by Jesus (ordained by Him) for churches to carry on throughout the ages. There are two ordinances of this kind: baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Both of these “preach with pictures,” giving a visual illustration of what Jesus has done for us. Sacraments, the other term sometimes used, refer to things which give grace to the person who receives them. We do not believe baptism or the Lord’s Supper are sacraments, except in the way that preaching is – that graces comes directly from God and that preaching and pictures can be used by God to stir up people’s hearts.[3] I avoid the term sacrament to prevent confusion about the actual process giving grace, but have never actually stoned anyone for using it.
The ordinance set up by Jesus during the Passover meal immediately before His death is usually called the Lord’s Supper by Baptists. It consisted of wine[4] and unleavened bread and is called Communion (because we share in community – commune – with God and each other -1 Corinthians 10:16), the Lord’s Supper (because He set it up, He is the host and it is  for His glory- 1 Corinthians 11:20), the Eucharist (Greek word meaning “thanksgiving” because it is a celebratory act of thanksgiving for what God has done- Mark 14:23) and the “breaking of bread” (I bet you can figure the origin of this one out – Acts 20:7).[5] Any of these terms is biblical and acceptable; the term “Lord’s Supper” has taken hold for mostly cultural reasons.
In the Baptist view[6], the Supper is a memorial of Jesus’ sacrifice (1 Corinthians 11:24-25), where the wine represents his blood poured out and the unleavened bread represents His sinless, broken body. As the wine glides down the throat, the participant can remember the sword sunk into Jesus’ side, as blood poured out to wash away the sins of the world. As the bread breaks apart, the participant can remember the soldiers whipping Christ, punching Him and nailing His battered body to a cross. It is not a sacrifice in the usual sense, because Jesus’ sacrifice was once for all (Hebrews 9:12); instead, it is an occasion for us to offer up a sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:15) as an echo of Jesus’ sacrifice. Again, the elements have no atoning power but are signs. A sign which points to itself is a waste – signs always point to something else. The Lord’s Supper points to the Lord’s cross – it is a sermon that everyone in the church preaches together.[7] This is probably one of the highest honors of being a Christian, and it is shameful that so many treat is cavalierly with their non-attendance.
Because of this, it is supremely important to have a sense of the gravity of the thing being done. An unsaved person or a person in willful, high handed disobedience, will take the Lord’s Supper unworthily. We must be united with God to share in this ordinance. This manifests itself, at a minimum, in salvation and baptism (baptism being the first Act of obedience[8]). A Christian who has been living in sin ought to examine themselves and repent before partaking, but God is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins, and there is no need to abstain once forgiveness has been received.[9] I can imagine little more beautiful than an erring church member who has been under discipline repenting and being restored[10] immediately before the healed body takes the Lord’s Supper together.
Of course, as this already suggests, the Lord’s Supper is not for lone individuals. This is made very clear in 1 Corinthians, where the doctrine of the Lord’s Supper is laid out in the fullest detail. 1 Corinthians 11:20, in the midst of Paul’s condemnation of their poor practice, explains that their fellowship was not the Lord’s Supper at all when he writes: “Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper.” Together how? The answer is given two verses earlier: “For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you;”[11] Open communion is not compatible with this verse, and close communion must stretch the idea of “church” uncomfortably farther than the New Testament ever does. A local assembly comes together as a church, and one of the things they do to celebrate the Lord is to take His Supper as a unified body. To accomplish this, in practice, we do everything in as unified a way as possible. The elements are taken, and we pray together, thanking God for each one. We do not drink or eat until everyone is served, and we do so together. It is a visual proclamation of the gospel, as it remembers the first coming of Jesus which reconciled us to God, the unity of believers brought together in Christ and the second coming where God will put all things under His feet.
To elaborate, the gospel is about our reunion with God, but it is also about the unity of the new humanity in Christ. A local church is Jesus’ body, and they share the same bread together. There is not black bread and white bread, rich bread and poor bread or pastor bread and laity bread. We all partake together, because we are all in the same desperate need of the same Holy Savior. His body was broken for all of us – there is no difference.[12] Table-fellowship, who you are willing to eat with, has been a major point of contention in history for lots of reasons. In the United States, it has not been long since water fountains were divided on the basis of color and that restaurants excluded certain people. Eating together is an intimate expression of unity, as every member of the church is brought together and placed in this church by the guidance of the Holy Spirit.[13] This is the reason that church discipline includes the requirement that the church not even eat with those who claim to be Christians but are involved in gross sin.[14]
Early Christians partook of the Lord’s Supper as they assembled daily (Acts 2:46), although by Acts 20:7 it was apparently done weekly. The Bible does not give a schedule, but simply declares that we do it in memory of Jesus as often as we do it.[15] Since we are required to be unified in it, some churches do it much less frequently, often once a quarter or once a year. These are decisions to be made by the local congregation based on their spiritual health, but such a beautiful proclamation should not be abandoned, and we should realize that doing it very frequently is not condemned.
To tie it all up, the Lord’s Supper is when a local church comes together to drink the fruit of the vine and to eat unleavened bread in memory of the blood and body of Jesus, to visually proclaim His great power in bringing them together and uniting them to God. As they do so, they do so worthily, made acceptable by the very blood and body they remember, repenting of their sin and loving one another and the Lamb who bought them. Some churches do it more frequently and others less frequently, but as often as they do it, they do it to remember the King.
As we come together tomorrow, it is my prayer that the scope of this magnificent thing will be vibrant in our minds. Maranatha!

[1] Members who have been joined to us by baptism, or by transfer after baptism in another church of the same faith and similar practice and who are not currently under discipline as described in Matthew 18.
[2] Open communion – Anyone can participate. Close Communion – Baptized members in good standing of other churches can participate. Closed communion – Only local church members can participate.
[3] Of course, the Lord’s Supper and baptism only have this power in conjunction with some kind of teaching to explain their meaning. But this teaching may have been in the past and the ordinance may serve as a reminder.
[4] We use grape juice, to try to carry through the theme of incorruption from the unleavened bread in the Passover meal, as well as prudence for those who may struggle with alcohol addiction. In the institution of the Lord’s Supper, Jesus called it “the fruit of the vine,” a phrase used nowhere else in the Bible. In the New Testament era, truly unfermented grape juice did not exist – it is simply impossible to prevent fermentation without pasteurization or refrigeration. The evidence is mixed on whether or not fresh wine was used for the Passover (which was six months after the grape harvest and was made by boiling raisins and which would have had a negligible alcohol content), or if they treated the yeast for wine differently than the yeast in bread. While a discussion of the alcohol content and dilution of biblical wine (it was apparently mixed with water a lot) will have to wait for another time, it is at least clear that undecayed grape juice is an acceptable picture of Jesus’ blood, and probably ideal (though, again, it will remain for another time for me to prove this).
[5] Our Catholic friends call it the “mass.” Apparently, this comes from the Latin word for “dismiss” used to dismiss the general public before the sacrament began. Despite the fact that I believe in closed communion, I doubt this particular term is going to catch on with Baptists!
[6] Zwinglian, if you really want to know the person who did an excellent job of laying out the logic during the Reformation.
[7] 1 Corinthians 11:26.
[8] Acts 2:41.
[9] 1 John 1:9.
[10] It is important the church restore such a one, on the basis of Matthew 5:23-24, as well as the community arguments I make below.
[11] 1 Corinthians 11:18. The word translated “come together” and “meet together” are the same term in Greek. Emphasis added.
[12] Acts 15:9, Romans 3:22.
[13] This interpretation of 1 Corinthians 12:13 may be controversial, but it is beyond my scope to defend it here.
[14] 1 Corinthians 5:11. This is a strong condemnation of open communion and at least suggestive against close communion. To offer the Lord’s Supper knowingly to someone who shows no evidence of salvation is reckless, so open communion is out. But if it is the responsibility of the church not to eat with someone who is involved in sin, how can that be ensured outside of the local church?
[15] 1 Corinthians 11:25.