LDN contributing columnist
In the field of logic — reasoning — there is a logical fallacy — i.e. a failure in reasoning — known as a false dichotomy. This “occurs when an argument presents two options and ignores, either purposefully or out of ignorance, other alternatives,” according to philosophy-index.com.
For example, if I said, “there are only two types of people in the world: those who like to read books for entertainment and those who like to watch movies for entertainment,” I would have made the following claims: (1) If you are a movie person, you cannot be a book person at the same time and visa-versa; (2) you must be one of these two options and; (3) there cannot be any other options available. The error of this reasoning is obvious: (1) I may be someone who likes books and movies; (2) I might be someone who doesn’t like books or movies; or (3) I might be someone who likes other forms of entertainment like magazines, podcasts, live stage productions, musicals, etc.
The reason I call this fallacy to attention is because I have heard those who I assume to be well-meaning people attempt to separate what they call “church” or “organized religion” from Jesus Christ himself.
“Give me Jesus, keep the church!” they say. It is almost as if they are implying, “there are two types of Christians: those who ‘do church’ and those who ‘do Jesus.’”
They may classify those who “do church” as hypocritical, ritualistic, old-fashioned, irrelevant, or just plain boring. They may classify those who “do Jesus” as “spiritual, but not religious,” free-spirited, or independent.
Yes, to them someone can have a perfectly acceptable relationship with Christ without the church at all. Is this a fair dichotomy? If I want to follow Christ faithfully, do I really have to decide between Jesus and the church? Is it the case that the church is optional, or is there another alternative?
Let me ask a silly question. Would it be considered wise for a person to separate one’s head from their body? Unless you are a guillotine, I hope you said “no.” By separating Jesus from the church, one is doing precisely that, i.e. separating His head from His body.
The scriptures teach that God the Father “put all things under his [i.e. Christ’s, TJC] feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body” (Ephesians 1:22–23). It is clear that the Bible uses the term “church” and “body” synonymously here.
The church is Christ’s body and Christ’s body is the church! Also, “Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body” (Ephesians 5:23). The church is synonymous with Jesus’ body and Jesus is the Savior of the body. Furthermore, The church is that “which he hath purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). The church is that for which Jesus gave His life!
Before his conversion to Christ, Paul was named Saul of Tarsus. By his own admission, Saul persecuted Christians (i.e. those who belonged to Christ’s church) by heated verbal and physical assault, arresting them and even giving his consent to their execution (Galatians 1:13; Acts 8:3; 9:1; 22:20).
Paul was en route to Damascus to drag some Christian prisoners back to Jerusalem when the Lord appeared to Saul. Jesus said something very interesting to him: “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me” (Acts 9:4)?
While Paul thought he was merely assaulting the church (i.e. Christians), he quickly learned that by doing so, he was assaulting Jesus Christ. Therefore, when someone persecutes or assaults the church today they are at the same time assaulting Jesus. This would include speaking disparagingly about the church or trying to separate it from the Lord.
In light of God’s word, the “Jesus versus the church” scenario not only turns out to be a false dichotomy, but also a belief that is foreign to scripture. An honest examination of the Bible will enlighten misunderstandings related to the church: its head, purpose, members, blessings, responsibilities and its necessity. The truth is, we can only have Jesus through His church (Ephesians 1:3).
Torrey Clark is the preacher for the church of Christ Northside (www.churchatlagrange.org) and host of the weekly Christian worldview talk show, Culture Shock (www.thelightnetwork.tv/shows). Clark may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 706-812-9950.