Last time, we discussed the modern definitions of the word “Church” by using the encyclopedia and the dictionary. Today, I would like to share some quotes by famous historical figures who shared their own thoughts on “Church”, and will use these to shed some light on the truth spoken of in the Bible.
“Nothing doth so much keep men out of the Church, and drive men out of the Church, as breach of unity.”– Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon was a great and world-renowned English philosopher and statesman. He believed that philosophy and the natural world must be studied inductively, but argued that we can only study arguments for the existence of God. In addition, he affirmed that “a little philosophy inclines man’s mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy brings men’s minds about to religion.” He evaluated the Church with the standard of “unity.” The unity of the Church is Jesus Christ Himself. The unity of the Church will be produced when the mind of life of both the leaders and the believers in the Church are in harmony with Him. To Bacon, when unity exists in the Church, it will draw people from outside of the Church while not losing the believers in the Church. However, when there is a breach of unity in the Church, and if there is no mending or recovering, then God will not continue to add people to the Church. and the Church will unknowingly drive out or persecute the genuine believers from her fellowship. Bacon’s principle has been repeated throughout the 2,000 years of the Church’s history.
”If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution. The primitive Christians thought persecution extremely wrong in the Pagans, but practiced it on one another.”– Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He earned the title of “The First American” for his early and indefatigable campaigning for colonial unity. He was foundational in defining the American ethos as a marriage of the practical values of thrift, hard work, education, community spirit, self-governing institutions, and opposition to authoritarianism both political and religious, with the scientific and tolerant values of the Enlightenment. According to his view, not only had the Church been divided into diverse sects and denominations, but they also (with few exceptions) have persecuted among themselves, have become both “murderers” and “victims,” and have closely “walked in the statutes of the nations [the Pagans]”. (2Kings 17:8) The oneness and unity of the Church has been heavily damaged and even completely lost by the constant divisions and persecutions among themselves. We look closely to the Lord for granting His children on the earth a great repentance and a genuine spirit of brotherhood in order to bring us all back to Him and to be made one in Him.
“The perfect church service would be the one we were almost unaware of; our attention would have been on God. But every novelty prevents this. It fixes our attention on the service itself; and thinking about worship is a different thing than worshipping … ‘Tis mad idolatry that makes the service greater than the God.”– C. S. Lewis
C. S. Lewis was a British writer and lay theologian. He held academic positions in English literature at both Oxford University and Cambridge University. While raised in a religious family that attended the Church of Ireland, he became an atheist at age 15. His early separation from Christianity began when he started to view his religion as a chore and a duty. He was converted to Christianity in 1931, and later became a member of the Church of England. Here he uttered a shocking statement that it is an “idolatry that makes the [perfect church] service greater than the God.” Why? A genuine worship happens when our spirit touches and meets God’s spirit rather than our soul being entertained by the perfect church worship. Consider how the Bible says, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth. (Joh 4:24, NRS)” In our Christian living and church worship, we all need to prepare, cultivate and exercise our spirit before we come to God. Only when we worship God with our spirit will we have genuine communion and fellowship with God. This is the true worship God is seeking for among us.