In a recent blog entry, Fr. Stephen Freeman writes:
….The revelation of God to the people of Corinth is not to be found in St. Paul’s two epistles written to the young Church in that city, but in the Church itself. They are God’s revelation to Corinth, “written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the Living God; not in tables of stone but in the fleshy tables of the heart.”
If the people of Corinth do not see and come to know Christ in and through the Church, His Body, which has been established in that place, then Corinth will not know God.
Some of this goes to the very heart of the Church’s existence. It has become a commonplace in modern Christianity to reduce the Church to a fellowship of convenience, existing only to encourage and strengthen individual Christians (this is particularly true in Evangelical Christianity but has spread as a larger cultural understanding as well). Whereas the Scriptures speak quite differently of the Church.
Is the Pillar and Ground of Truth (1 Timothy 3:15);
Is the Fullness of Him that filleth all in all (Eph. 1:23).
Is the very Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12 and other places).
Is the Bride of Christ (Rev. 21:2 and elsewhere).
Such descriptions in no way fit an organization whose purpose is to encourage and strengthen individual Christians. The modern understanding of the Church is blasphemous in its denial of God’s own description of His Bride, His Fullness, His Body, the Pillar and Ground of Truth….
Yes! If “church” in a more than local sense is just a label for the set of believers, as seems to be the case with many evangelicals, then it is not the Church. This has all sorts of implications, both to one’s belief and to one’s practice.