This is a blog by a friend in Myspace World. I "met" him in a Myspace forum for Church of Christ members. Please read it, think about it, and then see my other post (Part II) to see my reply to it.
I encourage you all to think about this issue (and others like it), read what you can on issues such as this, and then post your thoughts either here or at the other post.
Church-Sponsored Social Meals
by (took name out)
As I begin this short article, it needs to be noted what this issues is not. The issue is not “eating in the building.” Those who say that this is the issue are either ignorant of the arguments, or being deliberately dishonest. No one denies that Christians may eat in the building. Thus, I call on those who have represented the position as opposition to “eating in the building” to repent.
Further, the issue is not regarding meals for the purpose of benevolence to needy saints such as you see in Acts 6.
The issue is not eating food that is incidental to the purpose for which the church has assembled. The church may be assembled and a child may eat cheerios, a baby my take a bottle, a diabetic may eat something to maintain their internal milieu, there is no opposition to this. Yet the fact that something may happen incidentally to the an authorized purpose, this does not provide authority for the church to provide for, or assemble for this purpose.
The opposition is to the church coming together for, or making provision for, a common meal for social purposes. The issue is a matter of purpose, not incidentals.
We oppose the practice of church sponsored social meals on the very same basis as our opposition for mechanical instruments of music in worship to God. There is no precept, approved example or necessary inference which authorizes the practice of the church making provision for such meals. This was commonly understood among brethren before the 1950’s and 1960’s . Brother B.C. Goodpasture wrote the following in the gospel advocate.
There is a difference between spiritual progress and religious hurrah, but some people seem not to know it. When a church gets caught up in the hurrah of church sponsored youth camps, banquets, ball games and institutionalism, it would be good to remember Paul’s statement, “the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17)....
(Goodpasture, Gospel Advocate 8-1-1935). ....
Brother Goodpasture further noted twenty some years later.
It is not the mission of the church to furnish amusement to the world, or even its own members. For the church to turn aside from its divine work to furnish amusement and recreation is to pervert its mission. If the church will discharge its duty in preaching the gospel, edifying its members, and helping the worthy poor, it will not have the time or the desire to amuse and entertain” (Goodpasture, Gospel Advocate, 1948, p.484).....
There are numerous other quotes throughout the brotherhood periodicals prior to the 1950’s and 1960’s decrying the practice. The reason is because there is no precept, approved example, or necessary implication to provide authority for such.
Another issue in regard to this is noted in 1 Corinthians 11:22,34. Note at the outset that is not our sole opposition to the practice of church sponsored social meals. We noted about that the opposition is primarily one of a simple lack of authority. This fact is then underscored by Paul’s condemnation of the practice. In 1 Corinthians 11 and beginning in verse 17 Paul deals with an issue that had arisen in the church in Corinth. The church there had perverted the Lord’s supper in such a way as to shift the focus from the memorial of which it was instituted, to a common meal. Paul provided the solution. Common meals are to be eaten at home. In other words, The church has an obligation to make provision for the spiritual supper, the home is to make provision for common meals. Paul notes “ What, do you not have houses to eat and drink in or do you despise the church of the living God and shame those who have nothing.” (1 Corinthians 11:22). In the same context Pal noted “ if anyone is hungry let him eat at home…” ( 1 Corinthians 11:34). Consider this question, If Paul wanted to say “eat common meals at home” what better way could he have said it?
I have dealt with this issue very briefly in this article. If you would like to study the position I believe to be biblical in more depth, I encourage you to read the Garner-Jones debate at www.garnerjonesdebate.wordpress.com