Some liberal "Christians" are under the misapprehension that the practices and doctrines of the church you attend are unimportant. Some would even go as far as to say that Christians don't need to go to church; a relationship with Jesus is all that matters. These heretics have coined a derogatory term for the belief that belonging to and participating in a true church are important – churchianity. Here is an example of the kind of drivel you can expect to hear from these people.
Jesus didn’t found an institutional church. For that matter, he didn’t found a religion either. He also didn’t expect his followers to set up a Christian version of the synagogue . . .
I studied the early church and began to realize how unbiblical our modern concept of church is. I came to see that professional salaried clergy, a clergy-laity distinction, meetings in buildings, church budgets, hierarchal leadership, and legalistic requirements, such as tithing, were not present in early Christianity.
Let's look at these points one-by-one.
- Jesus didn't found an institutional church. Yes, He did.
Mat 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
It's important to note that when Jesus said, "This rock", He was of course referring to Himself, not Peter. And we know Jesus didn't have a problem with institutionalized religion, for He regularly attended the synagogue in Nazareth.
Lk 4:16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.
- He didn’t found a religion either. Ever heard of Christianity (Acts 11:26)?
- He also didn’t expect his followers to set up a Christian version of the synagogue. Where does the Bible say that? It's rather presumptuous of these people to claim to know what Jesus didn't expect, as if they know the mind of God. What we do know is that Jesus, being God, knows everything that will happen before it comes to pass. To Him nothing is unexpected. If He didn't want His disciples setting up churches, He would have told them so. But instead He left them instructions on how churches should run – for example, in dealing with transgressors (Mat 18:15-18).
Mat 18:17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
- I came to see that professional salaried clergy . . . were not present in early Christianity. The Bible makes it clear that teaching, exhorting and ruling are spiritual gifts (Rom 12:7-8). If the Holy Spirit has given a man these gifts, then he is a professional clergyman. The Bible also says that those who preach the Gospel should earn their living from it.
1 Cor 9:7 Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?
[. . .]
1 Cor 9:9 For it is written in the law of Moses, thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?
1 Cor 9:10 Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.
1 Cor 9:11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?
[. . .]
1 Cor 9:13 Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?
1 Cor 9:14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.
Not only should pastors be paid, but if they do their job well, they should be paid double. In the passage below "honour" means "pay."
1 Tim 5:17-18 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.
- I came to see that . . . a clergy-laity distinction . . . [and] hierarchal leadership . . . were not present in early Christianity. God has only given the gift of teaching to some. Paul poses the rhetorical question, "Are all teachers?" The answer is no.
1 Cor 12:28-29 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?
While the Roman Catholic offices of cardinal, archbishop, pope, etc., aren't mentioned in the Bible, the offices of elder and deacon are. Churches are to appoint men who fit the profiles in 1 Timothy 3:1-18 and Titus 1:5-9 to rule over them in the same way a husband and father rules his family.
1 Tim 3:5 For if a [bishop] know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?
Ordination of office bearers is a Biblical concept.
Tit 1:5 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: (see also Acts 6:1-6)
Christians must submit to the rule of those who watch over their souls. You can't keep this commandment if you don't belong to a church.
Heb 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.
- I came to see that . . . meetings in buildings . . . were not present in early Christianity. The early church met in houses (Acts 2:46; 20:20; Col 4:15). Houses are buildings.
- I came to see that . . . legalistic requirements, such as tithing . . . were not present in early Christianity. Show me where in the New Testament the commandment to tithe is rescinded.
There are 613 commandments in the Bible, and God expects us to keep every one of them (Jas 2:10). While we aren't expressly commanded to go church, we are commanded not to not go to church.
Heb 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
Christians are commanded to love one another
, comfort one another (1 Thess 5:11), even sing to one another (Eph 5:19) and use their spiritual gifts for the edification of one another (1 Pet 4:10). You can't do these things if you aren't involved in a church.
So where do these theologically-challenged people who make up words like churchianity get their ideas of what the early church was like from? Not the Bible. Perhaps from history books. But we know the Bible is true; therefore if history is at variance with the Bible, then history is wrong. And if you are going to believe history books over the Bible, you might as well stop pretending to be a Christian.
But I think most of these people just don't like going to church. They find it boring. They don't like the company of Christians. They don't like submitting to authority. They don't like being subject to discipline. Well, that's fine. In that case, they probably won't like heaven* anyway – because then they will be in the company of Christians for ever, ceaselessly worshiping God. They should just stop pretending to be Bible-believing Christians.
* Heaven will be a lot like church. The church is Christ's bride (Eph 5:22-27), and heaven is the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev 19:7-10).