Attending Church – Opinions Differ
Christian Post, an evangelical outlet, asked “Is It OK for Christians to Watch Church Online and Not Attend?” They reported on a discussion by three professors at Dallas Theological Seminary, a highly esteemed evangelical institution. The discussion was led by Darrell Bock, a revered figure. I found it striking in several respects.
First, there was absolutely no attempt to cite Scripture. Nor was there any attempt to say “this is what Jesus would do.” All they did was express their own opinions on what people should do. The unspoken assumption is that they speak for Christ; nothing else is necessary.
The only time “Jesus” or “Christ” was mentioned was in a discussion of Docetism. This was an early Christian belief that Jesus was never human, but only appeared to be. Rather, he was 100% divine, and could shape-shift at will, like Zeus becoming a swan. Jesus just put on a body to fit in better. This was a fairly common view before it was deemed heresy and punished.
One of the theologians said that those who believe you can attend church on-line were just like docetists. This seems to betray a lack of understanding, as none of those virtual-attendees think they are divine and only appear to be human. Remote viewing does not reflect on your having a body, whether you are on the church campus viewing a jumbo screen of the pastor, or off campus viewing a small screen. (The discussants seem to have no objection to large-screen viewings.)
The theologians all insist on physical attendance in church. Church leaders since Paul have always fought the idea of a person relating directly to God or Jesus. They insist on inserting intermediaries, as well as making it a group experience and establishing esprit de corps. Without these additions, it is much harder to make a business out of religion.
There is a good reason they did not mention Jesus’ views on the subject. When his disciples asked Jesus how they should pray, Jesus told them that the first thing they should do is lock themselves in their room, alone. He told them not to be like the hypocrites who worship in public. Just talk to God, without any intermediaries. Then Jesus taught them the Lord’s Prayer. Not only do the folks from Dallas Theological Seminary contradict Jesus, virtually all professional Christians do.