The Divine Reaction (continued)
Becoming Behaviour and Appeal In the House of God (continued)
But is it not a pity that these things which Paul wrote, concerning women, sisters, for instance, have been taken out and made subjects in themselves, so that Paul has been reproached that he ever said such things? That is a complete mishandling. Why not recognize that this is set in a decline of Christianity, and that these things are marks of spiritual decline? That is why they have to be spoken about; they are not things in themselves. Naturally, you may have your feelings about them. You might, for instance, be called old-fashioned, not up-to-date; you have not moved with the times. But if you are spiritual, you will have another kind of argument. You will not be behind the times, and you will not be moving with the times: you will be moving with Heaven, and that is a different standard altogether.
Beginnings of Formalism, Institutionalism, Ecclesiasticism, In the Church
Let us note other indications in these letters. On the outside there was the beginning of an altogether new situation with Christianity itself. We here have quite clearly indicated the beginning of ecclesiasticism, clericalism formalism, officialdom in Christian orders. It is all here, it has started. Paul died, Paul was executed, and there was a period of some twenty-five years without any historical record of what was happening. Then we come to the writings of John, followed by silence again. And then men began to write, and we have the writings of men called the Fathers. What do we find? Immediately they begin to write, at the end of the first Christian century, we find that clericalism is in full force and so is ecclesiasticism. The whole principle of spiritual men as overseers has been resolved into a system of prelates, bishops, and what not - a non-New Testament system. This is officialdom: men in high position ecclesiastically, governing in an official way. It has come; here are the beginnings. That which was spiritual - spiritual men, men of God, functioning as overseers of the Church and of the churches, because they were spiritual men - has now given place to men who are officials, ecclesiastics, clerics, and so on. A tremendous change has taken place, and it has come right down through all the Church's history.
The Christian ordinances were changed and the Christian doctrines were changed. The ordinance of baptism, for instance, was changed at the end of the first century. I am not going to enlarge upon these things; I am taking them as indications of a change - the turning of a corner - the coming in now of something organized in the place of that which was organic, of something institutional in the place of that which was spiritual. It is the movement away from what was spontaneous. And how spontaneous it was! In the early days the Church was just springing up and pressing on and expanding and growing by the sheer life that was in it; now it is organized, now it is a self-conscious entity, making its own appointments, and so on. The change led to infinite loss of power, and all the unhappy conditions that we have today.
(continued with # 44 - (Responsible men in the Church Must Be Spiritual Men)