What Biblical support is there for a non-Churched Christianity?
Some word definition is required before looking into this question. For example the word "church" is not found in the Bible. It is used to translate the word ekklēsia (called out ones). It is even used in Acts to refer to the Israelites that were with Moses at Mt. Sinai.
Non-"Churched" Christians might fall into the following categories;
- Those who see to reason or purpose to associate with other Christians.
- Those who can find no others with whom they could fellowship.
- Those who shun organizational systems in favor of relational connections.
- Those who cannot find fellowship without an intolerable level of taint from the flesh and the world.
While there is no Biblical endorsement of Christian isolation, There are verses that can apply to those who do not see a possibility of worthwhile fellowship.
Those who shun fellowship on the basis of denominationalism (divisions) can cite;
1 Corinthians 1:11-12 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my
brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are
contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I
am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.
Galatians 5:19-20 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are
these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry,
witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions,
heresies, (heresies = hairesis = divisions)
Those who shun fellowship on the basis of false teaching can cite;
Philippians 3:18-19 For there are many, of whom I have often told you
and now tell you even with tears, who walk (live) as enemies of the
cross of Christ (the Anointed One). They are doomed and their fate is
eternal misery (perdition); their god is their stomach (their
appetites, their sensuality) and they glory in their shame, siding
with earthly things and being of their party.
2 Peter 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even
as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in
damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring
upon themselves swift destruction.
Galatians 2:4 And that because of false brethren unawares brought in,
who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ
Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:
Those who shun organizational Christianity as preventing "one another" fellowship and restricting ministry only to approved programs or the task of paid staff;
Rev 2:6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the
Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
Those who shun fellowship with those lost in their sin;
1 Corinthians 5:11 But now I have written unto you not to keep
company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or
covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an
extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.
Those who shun fellowship with those given over to worldliness;
James 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the
friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will
be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
We have come to think of "church" in terms of the organizational systems Satan has led the world into. If one considers several generations of school children being told for twelve years each to shut up, sit down, and do what you are told, it is difficult not to see this pattern impressed upon most church systems.
The picture of the "called out ones" in Ephesians is a little different;
Ephesians 4:11-16 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and
some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the
perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the
edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the
faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man,
unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we
henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about
with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning
craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the
truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head,
While some who call themselves Christian reject church as unnecessary or inconvenient, others reject church because attendance has nothing to do with learning and maturing into the full image of Christ. The Bible gives us a little insight into the relationship between Paul and Timothy. It seems a little more involved than a boring once a week lecture.
People who use their church system to measure Christians may find that some of those Christians fall short. People who use the Bible to measure churches may find that churches fall short.