Tonight at assembly...
Quick Note: I am having a dickens of a time typing tonight for some reason...
...we talked about "cults". Cults are interesting because if your view changes, what may have seemed a cult turns out not to be one. Cults look at Evangelical or Reformed assemblies as wayward cults. So, in other words, it is hard to come up with a suitable definition without making it sound something like this:
"A cult is anyone not like us."
Sounds kinda cultish.
Three particular doctrines were singled out as particularly "cultish": no Trinity, no two-natures of Jesus, no salvation by grace through faith alone. My question, though, is: were there any cults before Nicea? The doctrine of the Trinity has a long and sordid history and has never really satisfactorily been defined to an intelligible state (maybe it falls under the "description" idea I posted about earlier?). Also, does this make the Catholic faith at least a "little" cultish...as far as I know the whole third doctrine above (salvation by grace through faith) was the reason for a large Church split back in the 16th century.
So how do we define a cult? A better question, maybe, is how do we define the Church? Part of what the apostles teaching on the Church seems to be that the Spirit of God fills it, much like it did the ancient Temple and Jesus. Could this possibly be the test of what the true (and therefore what the false) Church is: the presence of the Spirit? I don't claim to know, at this point, what the "presence of the Spirit" is, but at times past it seems that God has made it very clear: fiery theophanies, a dove alighting on a wet Messiah, and odd tongues of fire appearing over people's head who were uneducated but speaking several languages fluently (I feel that I missed that part in my former language training).
I've said before here that I think we need pray about the division of the Church into so many parts because it doesn't necessarily show a divided emphasis (which is fine and different places need different things at different times), but because it shows a divided allegiance. God is not at war with Himself, but His Church seems to be at war with itself continually.
I guess that I'm kind of hoping for an Elijah-Mt.Carmel experience for the Church: we need to know who truly has the Spirit of God. Not, of course, that one denomination need have a monopoly on God's Spirit. There are certain beliefs, though, that I'm sure carry the divine imprimatur instead of others.
Come, Holy Spirit, guide us to unity in the faith and to unity of purpose together as God's people.