In my first post, I argued that the primary text used to support the postchurch viewpoint is not about the nature of the church at all. Instead, it's about the process of excommunication. Now I have more evidence against the postchurch viewpoint. In my mind, it fails to pass six important tests.
The Original Language Test
New Testament scholarship agrees that the word ekklesia (translated "church") meant a local community of people who assemble together regularly. The word was used for the Greek assembly whereby those in a city were "called forth" from their homes to meet (assemble) in the town forum to make decisions for the city. The Christian ekklesia is a community of people who gather together and possess a shared life in Christ.
As such, the ekklesia as used in New Testament literature is visible, touchable, locatable, and tangible. You can visit it. You can observe it. And you can live in it. Biblically speaking, you could not call anything an ekklesia unless it assembled regularly together.
The Epistle Test
Most of the New Testament's twenty-one epistles were written to local churches–ekklesias–in various cities. The apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church in Corinth, for instance. There was an actual, physical, locatable, visit-able body of believers that met together in the home of Gaius. He did the same for the church in Thessalonica, Colosae, Philippi, Laodicea, etc. (Col. 4:16).
Those who belong to a postchurch "church" should ask themselves, Can a person write a letter to my church? Can it be received by the church and read together by all of its members at the same time?
The Visitation Test
If you were living in the first century, you could literally visit any of the churches.
You could visit the church in Jerusalem in A.D. 35 and meet Peter, James, John and Mary, the mother of Jesus. You could visit the church in Corinth and sit in a living room in Gaius' home and talk with Stephanus, Fortunatus, and Achaicus. The house of Chloe could visit the church in Corinth and attend its meetings (1 Cor. 1:11). And on and on.
Question: If someone comes to your town, can they locate and visit your church? Can they meet the members and stay in their home for a week?
The Consistency Test
Three common critiques that postchurch advocates level against the institutional form of church are:
1) It breeds low commitment.
2) It feeds the consumerist, individualistic Christianity that plagues the Western church today.
3) It produces little transformation in the lives of the people who are part of it.
Ironically, these same three critiques can be appropriately leveled at the postchurch "church."
The postchurch breeds low commitment because there are no regular gatherings, nor any consistent community life. Talking to Christians on the Internent is virtual.
The postchurch view also reflects the consumerist, individualism that reflects our culture. There's no devotion or commitment to a regular community of believers. It's church on your own terms. Whenever you feel like it. The truth is, the postchurch "church" is actually more convenient and easier on the flesh than virtually every other form of church.
The "One Another" Test
Throughout the New Testament epistles, there are nearly sixty "one another" exhortations given to churches. All of them imply close-knit community. Here are a few:
live in harmony with one another (Rom. 12:16; 1 Peter 3:8)
care for one another (1 Cor. 12:25)
serve one another (Gal. 5:13)
bear one another's burdens (Gal. 6:2)
speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Eph. 5:19)