It is a good desire to want to get our theology “right.” That is, it is good to know why we worship Christ and to worship Him the way He wants to be worshiped. This involves some degree of knowledge and faith about Jesus Christ and answering some basic questions: who He is, what He’s done, and what He’s said to us. The way orthodox Christianity goes about this is by studying God’s Word and through that, we arrive at the “rule and norm” of Christian doctrine. This seems like basic stuff, right?
Right, well then you’ll be as equally surprised to discover that the “Organic Church” is out there to get doctrine “right,” and get this, without doctrine. I recently came upon a website for this 100% natural church. I found an “introductory tool” that made an attempt to describe the phenomenon. I’ll save you some time, here’s an excerpt that best summarizes what they’re all about:
By “organic church,” I mean a non-traditional church that is born out of spiritual life instead of being constructed by human institutions and held together by religious programs. Organic church life is a grass roots experience that is marked by face-to-face community, every member functioning, open-participatory meetings (opposed to pastor-to-pew services), nonhierarchical leadership, and the centrality and supremacy of Jesus Christ as the functional Leader and Head of the gathering. Put another way, organic church life is the experience of the Body of Christ. In its purest form, it’s the fellowship of the Triune God brought to earth and experienced by human beings.
I think what stood out to me the most about this position was the blatant irony of doing church through “face-to-face community…the fellowship of the Triune God brought to earth and experienced by human beings,” by removing “human institutions…held together by religious programs.” There seems to be a faulty premise held by this notion of an organic church and that is namely: human institutions and religious programs are “organic.” Humans are organic. The Church exists because God became a human being and instituted it for human beings. Consequently, how we “do” church is going to reflect the rhythm of the human life…the way God created us. The position articulated by this summary seems to be raising a question better answered through metaphysics than theology: what is the nature of man and the “rhythm” of the human life? I guess then, we can best determine what a truly “organic” church looks like.
Something else that struck me was that, as much as this non-institution tried, it couldn’t help but participate in what it was out to escape: definitions, doctrine, theology. Both in what it states and leaves unstated, the Organic Church takes what is effectually a doctrinal position. We must remember though, lest we commit the same mistake, what is true for the Organic Church is true for ourselves and our own denominations.
In an age in which many churches’ doctrinal positions are limited to a small “about us” webpage, I fear that the doctrinal ambiguity of American Christianity is setting the American church up for failure. Besides a differing church sign, what makes a church ignorant and ambiguous in doctrine any different from the Organic Church? What are the implications of getting our doctrine wrong (through stated doctrine, ambiguity of doctrine, ignorance of doctrine)? In order to cast aside all ambiguity, let me offer an answer: “Whosoever therefore shall confess Me before men, him will I confess before My Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” (St. Matthew 10:32, 33)
“rule and govern Your holy Christian Church; to preserve all pastors and ministers of Your Church in the true knowledge and understanding of Your wholesome Word and to sustain them in holy living; To put an end to all schisms and causes of offense; to bring into the way of truth all who have erred and are deceived; To beat down Satan under our feet; to send faithful laborers into Your harvest; and to accompany Your Word with Your grace and Spirit”
Hear us O Lord.