August 4, 2017
No Church Buildings Built During 1st Three Centuries Because God Calls Christians to Build 24/7 Church Communities, NOT Rarely Used Church Buildings (2 of 25)
Have you ever wondered about why no archeologist ever unearthed a church building prior to the 4th century?
Some say it’s because the church was being persecuted and this prevented Christians from building church buildings. But history reveals the gospel was preached in many countries and in some of those regions there was no persecution.
Googling for “oldest church building” provides a lot of archeological expertise, but the experts agree, prior to 300 A.D. no dedicated church buildings have been unearthed in the middle east, the area where Christianity was birthed.
However, I remember a documentary from years ago, in which conclusive evidence was provided for the missionary work of the Apostle Thomas in India. He was one of the original 12 Apostles (the one famous for his doubts). I figured that since the Catholic Church made him a saint and claimed him as one of their own, he would have had a different mind-set then the other Apostles and probably built a church or two.
It turns out, Thomas built seven church buildings in India, beginning in 52 A.D. However, this was the exception in early Christianity, not the rule, and has more to do with Catholicism’s desire to transform Christ’s Spirit-centered teachings into their religion with all the outer pomp for outshining the competition.
Understanding why early Christians chose not to erect buildings dedicated specifically to church services requires a clarification of the word “church”.
I usually use the more specific term “church building” when I’m referring to churches. That’s because people tend to use the word “church” when referring to church buildings but a church is NOT the building, it is God’s people gathered together in one place. Believers gathered in a field are still the church. The building houses the church, but it is not the church.
The word “church” in Greek (the language of our most ancient bibles) is “ekklesia” and means “a gathering” of those “called out”. But “called out” and “gathered” in what way? Gathered into a church building for a one-hour worship service each week? Is this consistent with the historical church of the first three centuries of Christianity?
The question modern Christians should be asking is, “Can we be a functioning church, as in ‘the body of Christ, which is the church’ (Colossians 1:24), if everyone is scattered to the four winds for all but a few hours, one or two days a week?” In other words, we are the arms, legs, hands and ears of Christ’s body, and if we’re scattered to the four winds 98% of our time, how can we claim to be a healthy, functioning body of Christ?
The answer is obvious, we’re NOT! And this is at the heart of religion’s inherent hypocrisy: we claim to be a community but we rarely interact with all but a few others, and then for very limited time periods; we claim to be the “Body of Christ” but being scattered geographically makes that impossible; we claim to obey Christ’s call to “Love one another as I have loved you” and yet we fail to follow Christ’s example of living and working together as a community.
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