As I was sitting here in my hotel room outside of Buffalo, New York, it hit me that after reading my last few posts, you may raise the objection, "So, what do you think the church is supposed to look like, Einstein?"
I'm going to spend a lot of time unpacking that here and there over the next few months but in short here it is: (1) the church is, was and shall always be the worldwide collection of those called by King Jesus to fulfill his command found in Matthew 28:16-20 and known as the Great Commission i.e., evangelism and discipleship; (2) the church has a hierarchy of leadership that is and will held accountable to the King. The idea that the early church was a loose, spirit led democracy is clearly undercut by Acts and Paul's letters to Timothy and Titus. If nothing else, read Acts 15:1-21. Notice that James the Brother of Judas makes a decision for the whole church! (3) the church fulfills the Great Commission by proclaiming the Gospel, which is possibly best summarized in 1 Cor. 15:1-11); and (4) the church is a community where God's reign (or His Kingdom) is seen clearly in acts such as believers taking care of one another (see Acts 2:42-47). This was the church that was the instrument of the Holy Spirit to create disciples who praised God while being fed to the lions.
Now granted, this is a grossly oversimplified list that will need to be unpacked at length (although not as short as Calvin's who defined the church as the place where the Gospel is heard and the sacraments administered) but I wanted to start to toss some things around lest you think I'm just throwing rocks at the heretical butt pirates who have given the faith a bad name...not that I won't throw rocks at them in the future. I really enjoy it too much to give it up!