Why even have assumptions anyway? I mean, why can’t I simply study the church without any assumptions whatsoever, like a theological tabula rasa?
All of us work with assumptions. A Social Darwinian would look at the emergence of the church as the end result of the natural progression of an evolving creature attributing survival to a higher purpose to give its existence meaning. Perhaps some remnant of previous forgotten survival which has no real historical basis save as some form of coincidental situational magic (like worshiping the God of Corn in the hopes of good crops, having a good corn harvest and thus having the worship verified) . Those would be fine assumptions to make in the Social Darwinian framework when speaking to a crowd of people who have already assumed the Darwinian model but that wouldn’t do as a scientific breakdown or Historical study.
That being the case, when I make my assumptions it’s within the framework of Christian thinking. I’ve already accepted God is true and I’ve already accepted Christ is who He claims to be therefore the further assumptions follow.
For example, why assume the church is people at all? Doesn’t it make just as much sense to assume it’s the epitome of an ideological concept? “The Church is the Best of Us” (or some such) instead of entering an almost weird mystical explanation?
Well, in Genesis, I’ve long noted that Creation culminated in Man as a viceroy of the Most High God. After the tragedy of the Fall (Gen 3) we can follow Man’s story as being an oft- repeated message that Man needs redeeming: apart from God Man’s prospects are worst than dim: they’re damned.
Its not that Man has to attain a higher moral goal (as in achieving the Best of Us), it’s that Man isn’t capable of reaching a higher moral goal. When man is in charge of the world, he fails; when he has God’s law, he breaks it; when he’s ruling as God’s King, he squanders his position; when God’s grace is outpoured, he either liberalizes it or legalizes it. Man repeatedly messes up and personally needs God’s remaking. Therefore God’s church isn’t people attaining a moral or philosophical concept; it is a gathering of people who have been reformed.
So you see, this one assumption, obviously Christian in thinking, was framed by the Torah and the New Testament in conjunction.
Each assumption I’ve stated operates the same way, here’s another example:
- For the church to house the Holy Spirit within its members the Spirit had to come
- Christ said the Spirit could only come if He died and was resurrected and asked the Father
- Therefore the church could not exist without Christ’s death and resurrection.