THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH UNITED - "THE CHURCH WITH OUT WALLS"

 

 

                  

 

 

 

 

                                "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God

                                                                                              to the pulling down of strong holds" 2 Corinthians 10:4 (KJV)

 

 

     Christian Church - Convergence Movement

 John 17:6-10 & 17-23
6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.
7 Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.
8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me;
and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.
9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world
, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.
10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.
                                             

 John 17:17-23 (KJV)
17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.
19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.
20 Neither pray I for these alone, but
for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe
that thou hast sent me.
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
23 I in them, and thou in me,
that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

Con·ver·gence 

1.

 A coming together from different directions, especially a uniting or merging of groups or tendencies that were originally opposed or very different

2.

 The tendency of different species to develop similar characteristics in response to a set of environmental conditions

The convergence movement is a coming together of the three major historic branches of the Church;

1.    The Liturgical/Sacramental

Li·tur·gic

1.

 relating to liturgy

2.

 relating to religious worship or to a service of worship, especially the celebration of Communion in a Christian service.

 

Liturgy is; a body of rites (or system of ceremonial procedures) prescribed for formal public worship.

·       Although the term is sometimes applied to Jewish worship, it is especially associated with the prayers and ceremonies used in the celebration of the Lord's Supper, also known as Holy Eucharist.

·       During the first three centuries of the Christian era, the rite of the church was comparatively fluid (or very likely changing), based on various accounts of the Last Supper.

·       In about the 4th century the various traditions crystallized into four liturgies, the Antiochene, or Greek, the Alexandrian, the Roman, and the Gallican, from which all others have been derived.

·       The Antiochene family of liturgies includes the Clementine liturgy of the Apostolic Constitutions, which is no longer used;

·       The Syriac liturgy of Saint James,

Syriac = ancient Syrian language: a form of Aramaic used between the 3rd and 13th centuries that survives in some Eastern Orthodox churches

·       The Syriac liturgy of Saint James, used by the Jacobite church and Syrian Eastern Rite churches (see Eastern Rite Churches);

·       The Greek liturgy of Saint James, used once a year at Jerusalem;

·       The Syriac liturgy of the Maronites;

·       The Syriac liturgy used by the Nestorian church;

·       The Malabar liturgy, used by the Saint Thomas Christians of India; the Byzantine liturgy, used in various languages by the Orthodox churches;

·       The Armenian liturgy, used by the Georgians and the Armenian Eastern Rite churches.

sac·ra·ment 

 

 In Christianity, a rite that is considered to have been established by Jesus Christ to bring grace to those participating in or receiving it.

In the Protestant Church, the sacraments are baptism and Communion.

The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches also include penance (or confession & repentance), confirmation (completion of training for adult hood), holy orders, matrimony, and the anointing of the sick.

 Holy Orders, the several different degrees of ordained ministries recognized by the Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Anglican churches.

  • For Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism, holy orders rank among the seven sacraments.
  • Anglicans regard ordination as a “sacramental rite,” or as “commonly called a sacrament” .
  • The outward and visible sign of the sacrament is the imposition of hands by a bishop, sometimes accompanied by the transmission of an object or objects associated with the order, such as a chalice and paten for a priest.
  • The sacramental inward grace conferred by ordination is the spiritual power and authority proper to the respective orders.

2.    The Evangelical

e·van·gel·i·cal 

1.

 relating or belonging to any Protestant Christian church that emphasizes the authority of the Bible and salvation through the personal acceptance of Jesus Christ

2.

 relating to or based on the Gospels of the Christian Bible

3.

 enthusiastic or zealous in support of a particular cause and very eager to make other people share its beliefs or ideals

Evangelicalism, is a movement in modern Anglo-American (citizens originating from Great Bitain) Protestantism that emphasizes personal commitment to Christ and the authority of the Bible.

  • In the general sense, evangelical (from the New Testament Greek euangelion, “good news”) means simply pertaining to the Gospel.

·       It is represented in most Protestant denominations.

Protestantism, is one of the three major divisions of Christianity, the others being Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy.

·       Protestantism began as a movement to reform the Western Christian church in the 16th century, resulting in the Protestant Reformation, which severed the reformed churches from the Roman Catholic Church.

·       The declared aim of the original reformers was to restore the Christian faith as it had been at its beginning, while keeping what they thought valuable from the Roman Catholic tradition that had developed during the intervening centuries.

·       The four main Protestant traditions that emerged from the Reformation were the Lutheran (known in continental Europe as Evangelical), the Calvinist (Reformed), the Anabaptist, and the Anglican.

·       Despite the considerable differences among them in doctrine and practice, they agreed in rejecting the authority of the pope and in emphasizing instead the authority of the Bible and the importance of individual faith.

·       The term Protestantism was given to the movement after the second Diet of Speyer (1529).

·        A protest was signed by six Lutheran princes and the leaders of 14 free cities of Germany, and Lutherans in general became known as Protestants.

·       The term Protestant has gradually been attached to all Christian churches that are not Roman Catholic or part of the Orthodox or other Eastern Christian traditions.

·       In the late 1990s the world had about 400 million Protestants (including some 64 million Anglicans), constituting about one-fifth of all affiliated Christians.    Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2006.  

 

Evangelicals believe that each individual has a need for spiritual rebirth and personal commitment to Jesus Christ as savior, through faith in his atoning death on the cross (commonly, although not necessarily, through a specific conversion experience).

·       They emphasize strict orthodoxy (following of established rules or traditions) on cardinal doctrines, morals, and especially on the authority of the Bible.

·       Many Evangelicals follow a traditional, interpretation of the Bible and insist on its inerrancy (freedom from error in history as well as in faith and morals).

The term Evangelicalism has been a source of controversy, and the precise relationship or distinction between Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism has been disputed. Fundamentalism, conservative movement among Protestants in the United States, which began in the late 19th century.

  • It emphasized as absolutely basic to Christianity the following beliefs: the infallibility of the Bible, the virgin birth and the divinity of Jesus Christ, the sacrifice of Christ on the cross as atonement for the sins of all people, the physical resurrection and second coming of Christ, and the bodily resurrection of believers.
  • Liberal Protestants often oppose the use of Evangelical to refer only to the strict traditionalists.      Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2006

 3.    The Charismatic. 

char·is·mat·ic 

1.

having charisma: possessing great powers of charm or influence

2.

seeking direct spiritual experiences: describes Christian groups or worship characterized by a quest for inspired and ecstatic experiences such as healing, prophecy, and speaking in tongues

Charismatic Movement (Greek charismata,”spiritual gifts”), international, interdenominational Christian revivalistic movement, also referred to as Neo-Pentecostalism.

·       The individuals who make up the movement believe that they have been “filled” or “baptized” with the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands.

·       The signs of this baptism include such spiritual gifts as speaking in tongues, or glossolalia, prophecy, healing, interpretation of tongues, and discernment of spirits (see 1 Corinthians 12:8-10).

The Pentecostal churches had their origin in a similar movement in the early 20th century, as small groups of believers withdrew from Protestant denominations in order to pray, study the Bible, and practice their gifts. See also Holiness Churches.

Holiness Churches, are fundamentalist Protestant bodies that developed from Methodism and hold as their distinguishing feature the doctrine that holiness, or sanctification of the individual, occurs by a second act of grace that follows justification and is supplementary to it.

·       The experience of holiness is also referred to as the second blessing.

·       The National Holiness Movement came into being shortly after the American Civil War.

·       Originally a protest movement within Methodism, it opposed the Methodist falling away from the emphasis on sanctification that John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, had developed.

·       He had stressed original sin and justification by faith and added that the individual may be assured of forgiveness by a direct experience of the spirit, called sanctification, which he regarded as the step leading to Christian perfection.

·       Although the main body of the Holiness movement holds that sanctification is a second work of grace, some groups of the Pentecostal movement, an outgrowth of the Holiness churches, maintain that sanctification is essentially the dedication of the believer that begins with regeneration.

·       Moreover, sanctification must be evidenced by the occurrence of certain spiritual phenomena, such as glossolalia, or speaking in tongues.

·       The major representatives of the Holiness movement (excluding Pentecostal denominations) are the Church of the Nazarene and the Church of God (Anderson, Indiana).

·       The latter originated about 1880 as a movement within existing churches to promote Christian unity.

·       The founders were interested in relieving the church at large of what they believed was over-ecclesiasticism and restrictive organization and in reaffirming the New Testament as the true standard of faith and life.

·       In addition to the holiness principle, they believe in, among other doctrines, the divine inspiration of the Scriptures, forgiveness of sin through the death of Christ and the repentance of the sinner, a nonmillennial concept of the return of Christ, and external reward or punishment as a result of the final judgment.

·       In the late 1990s the Church of God had 234,000 members in the United States and the Church of the Nazarene reported 627,000 members.

·       There are about 25 other Holiness denominations, among them the rapidly growing Christian and Missionary Alliance with 346,000 U.S. members in the late 1990s. Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2006.

 

The Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship began among Pentecostalists in 1951.

·       Its members introduced laity from other denominations to their practices,

·       The charismatic movement as such is usually considered to have begun in 1960, with a group of Episcopalians in Van Nuys, California.

·       Distinct charismatic networks and organizations soon arose within the Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, and other Protestant denominations.

·       A small element exists within Eastern Orthodoxy.

 

The most striking recent development is the Roman Catholic charismatic renewal, which originated in 1967 on university campuses in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; South Bend, Indiana; and East Lansing, Michigan.

·       In 1969 the U.S. bishops' conference issued a cautiously favorable statement regarding the renewal, and in 1975 Pope Paul VI gave an appreciative speech at a special audience for 10,000 charismatics attending a Rome conference.

·       Leon Joseph Cardinal Suenens of Belgium, a progressive at the Second Vatican Council, became the movement's sponsor within the Roman hierarchy, but many important leaders were laypeople.

 

As has Pentecostalism, the charismatic movement has produced a  myriad of groups, independent preachers and healers, and a few near-cultic offshoots.

·       Most charismatics, however, are orthodox in doctrine, and emphasize activity within their own denominations.

·       They are ecstatic (or completely dominated by intense emotion) in worship, although generally more subdued than Pentecostalists,

·       They align themselves with other Evangelicals in their emphasis on evangelism and personal faith in Christ. Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2006.

 

    CONVERGENCE

 Each of these expressions of the Church of Jesus Christ have been carefully nurtured by God and greatly used to establish and expand His work on earth. 

  • Modern day visionaries, however, have discerned the times and are declaring that the right time has arrived for God’s church to be one.  “Father, that they maybe one even as we are one,” was the prayer of our Lord. 
  • Ecclesiastes 4:12 tells us that, “ a cord of the three strands is not easily broken.”   When the three strands of God’s Church are braided together there will be a new strength and unity in the church as hasn’t been seen since the apostolic age.

 What the Convergence Movement is Not.  The Convergence Movement is not the Ecumenical Movement. 

·       The Ecumenical Movement has been a constructive and instrumental part in preparing the scene for the Convergence Movement.  

·       It was at first, and will continue to be, necessary for the various factions and denominations of God’s church to dialog and commence tearing down the walls of division.  God has blessed this effort. 

·       The Convergence Movement, however, has identified the three living streams of the Church and invites God to bring them together as one complete life-giving river.  “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the Place where the Most High dwells” (Psalm 46:4). 

·       These three streams each in their own way have defined the map of Christianity through the ages and will merge like a flood into the future to bring reconciliation and unleash God’s powerful purpose for His Church. 

·       For the present time, Convergence Churches will be powerful symbols and agents of rapprochement (or renewal of friendly relations between nations that were previously hostile) and the impending unity of God’s people in the midst of a growing darkness and alienation in the world. 

What a Convergence Church Will Look Like.  A Convergence Church will blend the three dynamics of liturgy and sacrament, evangelical focus and charismatic power in their worship, congregational life and outreach.

            Evangelical

The Convergence Church has a high view of Holy Scripture, that it contains all things necessary for salvation and godly living. 

·       It is committed to the faithful reading, studying, teaching, and preaching from the Scriptures; as well as believing that the Holy Scriptures are a wellspring for spiritual maturity.

·       It believes in the importance of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, a holy life, and a commitment to evangelism and missions.

Charismatic

The Convergence Church is open to the work of the Holy Spirit and believes that God’s people have always been a spiritually gifted people. 

·       From the Apostles to the modern Church, Christians have been endowed with a power beyond themselves; a power from the Holy Spirit Himself.

·       The Convergence Church not only allows, but anticipates the Spirit’s presence and working through this gifting in both worship and in daily acts of service.

Liturgical and Sacraments

The Convergence Church practices the living historic forms of the liturgies of the Church:

·       The sacraments of Holy Eucharist (the Lord’s Supper) and Baptism

·       It draws on the traditions and wisdom of the Historic Church and is unashamedly part of the one Holy Catholic (“Universal” not Roman Catholic) and Apostolic Church

·       At the center of its worship is the sacrament of Holy Eucharist (the Lord’s Supper) in which it believes that grace is imparted by the real presence of Christ.

        Scriptural References For The Concept Of The Convergence Movement

Psalms 133:1-3 (KJV)
1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
2 It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments;
3 As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.

Ezekiel 37:15-17 (KJV)
15 The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying,
16 Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions:
17 And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand.

John 17:17-23 (KJV)
17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.
19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.
20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

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