DENVER – The auditorium lights turned low, the service begins with the familiar rhythms of church: children singing, hugs and handshakes of greeting, a plea for donations to fix the boiler.
Then the 55-year-old pastor with spiked gray hair and blue jeans launches into his weekly welcome, a poem-like litany that includes the line “queer or straight here, there’s no hate here.”
The Rev. Mark Tidd initially used the word “gay.” But he changed it to “queer” because it’s the preferred term of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people invited to participate fully at Highlands Church.
Tidd is an outlaw pastor of sorts. His community, less than a year old, is an evangelical Christian church guided both by the Apostle’s Creed and the belief that gay people can embrace their sexual orientation as God-given and seek fulfillment in committed same-sex relationships.
See story at Yahoo: Evangelical church opens doors fully to gays.
I don’t consider the church in the news item above, part of The Church.
The new testament Church heeded Christ’s command to go into all the world and preach the gospel, and “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” (Mark 16)
We are to make disciples, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28)
Today’s Church body throws the doors open to every false doctrine and teaching, as well as including unregenerated sinners into their fellowship. Just as bad, new believers [in need of correct bible teachings and disciple-ing] are told they can continue in their sins and still be a part of the Church fellowship; These things should not be folks.
Read a portion of Justin Martyr’s letter: notice the order in which things were done, concerning the welcoming of a new believer into the fellowship of the brethren.
Originally addressed to the Roman emperor in defense of Christianity, Justin’s description gives us a window into the early Church;
“How we dedicated ourselves to God when we were made new through Christ I will explain, since it might seem to be unfair if I left this out from my exposition. Those who are persuaded and believe that the things we teach and say are true, and promise that they can live accordingly, are instructed to pray and beseech God with fasting for the remission of their past sins, while we pray and fast along with them.
Then they are brought by us where there is water, and are reborn by the same manner of rebirth by which we ourselves were reborn; for they are then washed in the water in the name of God the Father and Master of all, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit. For Christ said, “Unless you are born again you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.”
Now it is clear to all that those who have once come into being cannot enter the wombs of those who bore them. But as I quoted before, it was said through the prophet Isaiah how those who have sinned and repent shall escape from their sins. He said this: “Wash yourselves, be clean, take away wickedness from your souls, learn to do good, give judgment for the orphan and defend the cause of the widow, and come and let us reason together, says the Lord. And though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them as white as wool, and though they be as crimson, I will make them as white as snow.”
After thus washing the one who has been convinced and signified his assent, [we] lead him (*then*) to those who are called brethren, where they are assembled.
They then earnestly offer common prayers for themselves and the one who has been illuminated and all others every where, that we may be made worthy, having learned the truth, to be found in deed good citizens and keepers of what is commanded, so that we may be saved with eternal salvation.
Related, as far as the original (biblical) purpose of The Church, meeting places, or gatherings (for Christians) I’d like to repost a video.