A Voice in the
Recently in response to the April article from Romans 16:5 where it speaks of the church "at their house", a subscriber wrote questioning several things. He, himself, is struggling with a home fellowship that I believe he is the leader of; questions combining the aspects of the house church, modern prophets and apostles, and charismania. And as he worded it, "spuriousness of pentacostalism infiltrating the house church movement."
I think we have referenced the modern apostles and prophets enough the past few months. But there is one angle we haven't, and it might be good to look at, since we speak of "house churches" or "home assemblies" etc.
Since we encourage people that, if they find that their fellowship is totally apostate, being full of unregenerates, that it is "OK" to leave; in spite of the 'guilt trips' laid upon them, as though their leaving indicates backsliding or departure from God's Truth...when, in truth, the "church" they are leaving is the one that is apostate. And so individuals and two's and three's here and there are heeding God's command to "come out of her My people". (Rev18:4) To "come out from among them and be separate...and do not touch the unclean." (2Cor6:17)
Back in the late 60's and early 70's, during the time of the hippy revolution and everything which became the turning point to put the US on the course to bring it to where it is today, where a president can sell out the country's security secrets to the enemy and stand unimpeached, while continuing to try to disarm its citizenry contrary to the Constitution; and where his right-hand justice system (attorney general) can seek to turn a young boy, for whom his mother gave her life bringing him to freedom, back to a totalitarian dictator country, where this country used to be a bastion of freedom to those seeking asylum... The "church" was also undergoing changes.
The church was infiltrated from two angles: 1) hippy freedom and tolerance, and 2) charismania's spirituality. And actually these two elements were quite related to each other, and "fit" rather well together. One of the elements of hippy-dom was the embracing of Yoga, TM and the mind-altering drugs. Yoga and TM were methods of opening the mind to receive eastern spiritual mysticism. And the drugs aided in the process of emptying the mind, in order to embrace this new spirituality. [Remember the "empty house" which the demons fill.-Mt12:43-45]
While hippies were getting "stoned" in their communes, the "church" was doing the same thing with shamanism. Instead of drugs, they had priest/witch-doctor like practitioners who would pray, recite incantations, develop a whole system of mantras ["worship songs"], employing "crowd psychology" to manipulate people. [Ed: Believe me, I know about this. Even in a non-charismatic conservative Bible school, this was taught in "hymn conducting" class. "Know what the crowd wants (even before they do) and give it to them."] You see, there is a reason why "charismatic catholics" was a 'natural' phenomenon to spring out of that era. Catholicism already had their repetitive mantras in their rosaries, hail mary's, our father's, etc. And they would empty their minds as they "gaze" at the various church icons.
Now...combine several of these elements, and out comes the "Christian commune". They were typically charismatic, ascribed to communism, and many of them even carried over hippy-dom's "free love", as we have documented the current carryover from those times... one such group being "The Family" ("Church Sex" -Discernment Archives at the website).
Somewhat side-by-side with the commune was also the "house fellowship". They did not live together, but met together in homes. They also were charismatic, but with a bit more "control" to their charismania. For instance, one such group I visited, would practice tongues. Assuming that Paul was teaching "how to properly" speak in tongues in 1Cor14 (which he wasn't-rather, he was exposing its absurdity -vs23), during the course of their meetings the leader would -assign-, "sister so-n-so will now speak in tongues". So sister so-n-so would jabber off something unintelligible. Then, the leader would assign, "brother so-n-so will now interpret what sister so-n-so has just uttered". If a Believer was in the meeting, they would have known that it was a -contrivance-. Nothing of the Holy Spirit.
Back then it wasn't really yet quite understood that the "church" as a whole had already begun down the slope of apostasy, so it was assumed that these communes and house meetings were in "rebellion" against the establishment. But it was thought that the church, as a whole, was still solid.
Well, between charismania, "Jesus people" communes and house meeting mentality; tolerance and acceptance worked its way into the established church. Along with tolerance, standards were relaxed. The "christian" hippy movement was rebelling against the establishment, but their rebellion threw doctrine out the door. Preaching and teaching turned into share-all discussion groups. (Today's Alpha and Emmaus Walk are not 'new' concepts!) Hymns of the Faith were thrown out in favor of guitars, drum beats and mantra-style what have become called "worship songs". Coincidentally, this was the same period of time when the perVersions of Scripture -really- started flooding the scene. They would sit around with their "Good News" and "Living" abominations, "sharing" with each other...militantly rejecting anything anybody might actually contribute from God's Word as "thus says the Lord". Anything from God's Word was labeled as "judgmental ". (Yes, that's the context of when -that- word came into vogue, too.)
Now...the very fact that it was POSSIBLE for the established "church" -TO- become 'worn down' to accept this apostasy, indicates that their hearts were already turned away from God. All they had were their traditions, legalism and reliance upon things like KJV-only. The fact that it was possible for them to "appear to" slide, was actually an indication of their true state all along. Otherwise, they would not have slid. They would have stood firm. Notice... "they went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they were of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out so that it might be revealed that they were not all of us." (1Jn2:19)
Yes, the hippies had it right. The established church was a bunch of "hypocrites". This was one of their battle cries back during that era. So, which is better/worse? A "hippy" non-christian? or a hymn-singing, KJV-toting "hypocrite" non-christian? Both, in God's eyes, are "lost".
OK...yes, I know these are strong words. I suspect most older readers have forgotten from whence christendom has fallen. And you younger readers did not know what came before our present day. But, while the current "spirit-filled" era really grew during the tumultuous hippy years, the apostasy was actually underway in at least the 50's. As I go through songs, looking at their words, and seeing their dates, the 'seeds' for it were already there in the 30's and 40's...and in some cases, even the late 1800's. The hippy era merely spring-boarded it into full frenzy.
So now, back to the question of "house gatherings". There has been a "traditional" mentality that says that Sound Doctrine is the domain of the -established- "church", which typically meets in that specially-designated building with the sign out front, and there are pews inside, and up front is the raised/elevated platform/altar. After all, to know correct doctrine, a person needed to learn it from the pastor/priest who went to the seminary of the right name and had the correct alphabet letters behind his name. The seminary, of course, taught the teachings of the "great men of God", and interpreted the Scriptures in light of these men's writings; forgetting that Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would instruct (Jn16:13) and that great teachers were not necessary, because the Lord "anoints" His own and teaches them (1Jn2:27) through the Scriptures. (2Tim3:14-17)
However, because of this traditional mentality, and the charismatic/hippy "rebellion" against that tradition, which was most-characterized by the communes and house meetings of that era; there has been a fear for some, that for some reason it is "wrong" to meet as a group of True Believers in a home, small group, or other non-traditional setting.
Just because a group meets in a house, does not mean it is charismatic. The terms "house church" and "charismania" are not synonymous. The character of the meetings is whatever the character of the -people- in the group is, and their devotion to God and His Word. Just like with traditional churches that meet in the special buildings...each congregation usually tends to be whatever the pastor is, because the pastor is the one who teaches (or not: Jer23, Eze34) the Word of God. If the house group has a leader that teaches God's Word, then it is according to God's Word.
Think about it a moment. During the Dark/Middle Ages when there was the Catholic church; and then the Protestants splintered off from them, creating the primary "church history" that is read; who was meeting in homes, forests, caves, in secret? The True Believers. (Heb11:38) Why is it that in an atheistic communist country like China, established government-registered "churches" are OK, but small house meetings are not? The registered churches are not God's True Church. But these governments know that God's power resides in the hearts of the Believers of the small secret meetings.
Here's a case where totalitarian communism can help give True Believers assurance in the validity of God's Word. They claim to deny God's Word. But their ideology and practice says that they "fear" God's power and presence. Thus, they fight most vehemently against the small house churches, where Jesus promised, "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst." (Mt18:20)