Have you ever heard someone say that they don't need to go to church on Sunday because they are going to have "porch church"? That's when you manage to wake up on Sunday morning but only shuffle in your slippers to the couch or rocking chair on the porch to stream a sermon on the web. Sipping on your cup of Joe, you may not be listening to the preaching of the Word, but I suppose it is one better (although just barely) than snoozing through a service at "Bedside Baptist" or "Pillow-side Presbyterian." I don't know what is the Lutheran equivalent, maybe "Lay-me-Down-to-Sleep Lutheran"? In any case, the Scripture reference that is most frequently trotted out to justify such neglect of the communion of the saints at Lord's Day worship is Matthew 18:20: "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I among them." See, it is claimed, you can have "church" at home by yourself, as long as there are two or three gathered—your spouse and maybe the family dog just to be fully compliant to the letter of the law. Unfortunately, this is probably one of the most misunderstood (one is tempted to say abused) passages among low-church evangelicals. To put matters simply, it is a verse taken horribly out of context and means almost the exact opposite of what the verse-quoter would like it to mean.
Ryan Glomsrud (D.Phil., University of Oxford) is Executive Editor for Modern Reformation and a Postdoctoral Fellow in the History Department at Harvard University. He earned his M.A. in Historical Theology from Westminster Seminary California and B.A. from Wheaton College, Illinois.
Issue: "Embassy of Grace" May/June 2011 Vol. 20 No. 3 Page number(s): 32-33
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