April 2006


1.  Who is doing the binding and unbinding?

In Matt 16:19 it is either Peter alone or “disciples” as in v. 13, 20

In Matt 18, it is either a) disciples as in v. 1 or quite likely b) believers in the first century and future generations. One would be hard pressed to say “apostles” only on verse 18 when they would say all generations of believers in the surrounding verses of 15, 16, 17, 19, and 20.

 2. What bindings are temporary and which are permanent?

It seems that we have been quite comfortable loosing the acts of foot washing and head covering and holy kiss greetings as temporary forms reflecting permanent principles of service, humility, and brotherly affection.

 I believe that the apostles had the wisdom of a few enlightened parents who realized (perhaps too late) that more rules lead to greater demand for discipline. I read between the lines in Acts 15:19 that the apostles and elders had no interest in requiring more of the Gentiles than what fellowship with Jews would demand. (I now take v 21 to mean that there is a Jewish community in “every city” thus creating a possible split between Gentiles and Jews over the most egregious violations of the law of Moses.) The sanctions on idol meat and blood were based on the principle of brotherly consideration; the sanction on sexual immorality is based on holiness and the spiritual bonding aspect of intercourse.

If the kids are not in a church youth group as they get to be teenagers, will they drop out of church because it is too dull and doesn’t connect with their youth subculture?

Seems like this issue about kids turns me into a broken record, talking about communicating spiritual priorities to our kids in a very personal way and generally using common sense principles.

When the teens grow up with a sense of awe and exuberance about God, a sense of God’s presence in every day life within the family, then God is their culture. Whether we meet as a house church or as a big box church, we have to be sensitive to the needs and interests of all, teens included. If our house church ignores their interests, their problems, their needs, they will naturally suffer and lose interest.

I’ve read about studies showing the importance of role models outside the family and in the older generation. This speaks to the importance of living in community, how it “takes a village” to raise healthy, well-balanced kids. We have a cultural tendency to rely on youthful, edgy youth leaders to connect our children with God thinking the old gray heads can’t understand or relate to “today’s teenager.” That may be true for some immature, worldly, self-centered old people, but those who have matured “in Christ” and benefited from the wisdom of God’s word, they will quite naturally connect and relate to teens. My experience with the God-centered, mature, gray heads is that they are better listeners and more lucid in their responses when conversing with teens than us middle-aged parents. Well I digress somewhat.

Using our common sense, which teen is better off in the long run? One that has been catered to with a professionally tuned youth program and largely isolated from the grown-ups? Or a teen that’s been surrounded in church meetings by kids and adults up and down the age scale, hearing about their struggles and their joys? What happens to our teen-become-adult when he graduates into the reality of “it’s not about you,” service-oriented, others-oriented, school of hard-knocks world and church?

A blog reader provided a thoughtful and though-provoking review of my writing on binding and unbinding, much of which I will respond to. I thought I would share this useful bit of writing and thinking with the other readers.

Also for your reference, I have uploaded some Lord's Supper discussion questions that served as fodder for this discussion. It is at http://yeldell.org/robin/bible/LordsSupper.doc .

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From: Clifford Yeldell
Sent: Saturday, April 15, 2006 9:51 PM

Looking at your paragraphs, I make these observations: 

#1    I agree that much time was spent on what part about the Lord' Supper was binding, and which was just incidental to their eating it.  We did not talk so much about whether the eating of it is binding.  Much time was spent on trying to determine if certain "breakings" of the bread was a common meal, an Agape feast, or the Lord's supper.  Most of the writings prior to the April fool's meeting, was directed to deciding which incidents were the Lord's Supper, and which were not.  There was a wide difference among us just on this point.  It seems nearly impossible (up to this point in time) for us to understand the language alike about these bread breakings 

#2  No comments here, but will be in #4. (more…)

In a Bible study that I had with family and friends on April fool’s day, we discussed the Lord’s supper and shared opinions about how to interpret key passages and how to apply those interpretation to our practice as Christians. I think one of the key questions that came up was what is binding and what isn’t.

“whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matt 16:19b

Jesus told the disciples that they would be binding and unbinding commandments, rules, rituals, ceremonies, patterns, traditions. We see this in action in Acts 15:28 where the question of Judeaizing gentiles was addressed. Also Paul exerted tradition and example and command in these cases (among many):
• Teaching on women in prayer and prophesy (1 Cor 11:2, 16)
• Tongues and orderly worship (1 Cor 14:37)
• Standing firm in message delivered by mouth and by letter (2 Thes 2:15)
• Command to keep away from the idle (2 Thes 3:6)

So what did Jesus and the disciples bind or unbind? Were the bindings permanent or temporary? Was the authority/responsibility to bind/unbind for the Twelve only or for other and subsequent leaders? The answers to these questions will influence every part of your practice as a Christian.

In the case of the Lord’s Supper, do you enforce weekly observance of the Lord’s supper based on Acts 20:7 augmented by 1 Cor 16:2? Do you require that it be observed in an upper room? Do you simply look for the essence or meaning of the Lord’s supper and give little concern to the specifics around it in scripture?

My sense is that we stick to the essence and avoid contentiousness over the forms and rituals. This is a scary proposition since it will be all the more subject to personal interpretation and subject to our natural desire to hear what we want to hear (2 Tim 4:3). However, we find that we can’t agree on the who, what, how of the specific forms and practices, so let us put our energies into understanding the whys and let love and patience rule during the practice of it.

I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
No longer will a man teach his neighbor,
or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest