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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Sunday, September 24, 2006
The Sanctuary: Modern Idol?
Is the auditorium or "sermon area" in your church a holy place in and of itself - or is it just a room that is used sometimes for holy things?
posted by Daniel @ 7:45 PM  
17 Comments:
  • At 11:06 PM, September 24, 2006, Blogger ThirstyDavid said…

    In our case, it's a room that is set apart for holy things, but not of itself holy.

     
  • At 11:15 PM, September 24, 2006, Blogger Jim said…

    Judging by your title, I would say you disdain the sanctifying of the "sanctuary".

    Yes, we christians so easily make external things more important than the spiritual element of worship.

    An hour is coming and now is when the true worshipers will worship in spirit and truth.

    So whether it's a gynasium or community hall, it is merely the gathering of the saints that becomes the holy place.

     
  • At 11:26 PM, September 24, 2006, Blogger Carla said…

    I've always called that room the sanctuary for no other reason than this is what it was called from the time I was little.

    Is it a holy place? No, it's a room where the word is preached, the people worship the Lord, and prayer is offered up. I don't see the room as being holy, but just a place where His people gather for these things.

    I'd be interested to know why you asked that way though. :o)

    SDG,
    Carla

     
  • At 11:33 PM, September 24, 2006, Blogger Clover said…

    it's just the sheep-shed.

    we, the sheep, are the church, the temple, the body of Christ.

     
  • At 7:53 AM, September 25, 2006, Blogger Even So... said…

    It is not only what we affirm but what we deny.

    In saying that, I am saying this: no, the sanctuary is not holy in and of itself, however, we set it aside for holy purposes, and therefor, we can defile it by doing unholy things there.

     
  • At 8:09 AM, September 25, 2006, Blogger Ryan said…

    Speaking of the church collectively, Paul says in 1 Cor. 3:16

    "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?"

    And of the individuals, 1 Cor 6:19

    "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?"

    Temple in both of these verses is actually the word for the sanctuary of a temple, where the Spirit of the Lord dwells.

    Clearly there is no reason, scripturally, for the place where we meet to be called the sanctuary (indicating a holy place), since we are the sanctuary of the Holy Spirit. Because of this, I've always felt uncomfortable using the term "sanctuary" for the room in which the church meets to worship the Lord.

     
  • At 10:01 AM, September 25, 2006, Blogger Jim said…

    Ryan, amen to your words brother.

    When we designate a place as the sanctuary for worship, there is the subtle inference that prayer, praise, etc. is somewhat more valid and reverant when offered in that place. It also gives a false dichotomy between our church and daily life.

    Daniel,

    Thank you for bringing out subjects that focus on the spiritual nature of the Christian life.
    In Christ,
    Jim

     
  • At 10:49 AM, September 25, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Carla, I see that some in the church, especially amongst those who grew up in the church, a misplaced reverence for the church building/property in general, and perhaps the "sanctuary" in particular.

    A while back a Jewish Doctor learned that we had recently come into possession of our church property, and offered to help introduce us to the community. The doctor's speciality had to do with age related maladies, and was often called upon to give lectures to university students, and other doctors - and he offered to give a series of free lectures to the community from our church building - thereby giving us something of a philanthropical introduction to our community.

    The business meeting to determine whether or not we ought to allow the church building to be used for such a purspose was quite eye-opening. There were some who felt that the church should only be used for church specific functions - prayer meetings, Sunday service, funerals, weddings, and perhaps the occasional religious meeting. Others felt that the doctor couldn't use the church because he was a Jew, and the church was for Christians. Still others felt that offering the building for such a community service might confuse people as to the mission of the church, while others were of the opinion that unless we handed out tracts to everyone who came in the front door, and gave a gospel presentation at the end of these meetings - there was no way they would allow it.

    I was quite surprised at the various opinions, as it was my opinion that the church building is no different than a hammer or any other tool - it is not made holy by its use, but can be used regularly by a holy people.

    Just as I would lend my hammer to my neighbor without demanding that she only use it to drive "Christianized" nails - and that before I lend it to her she must come to my church on Sunday and listen to a gospel presentation - and read these tracts that I have conveniently attached to the hammer - that is, until I can sufficiently "religionize" the lending of my hammer, I cannot lend it.

    I think that some people have a very empty zeal - that is, they are zealous for worthless things. How empty it is to hear a person argue that you mustn't let children run in the sanctuary because the sanctuary is "holy" - or that you have to speak in hushed tones when you are near the stage, er, altar - or any such nonsense.

    I understand that when the building is being used for a holy purpose it we ought to respect the austerity and dignity of that worship - and that any sort of disruptive or distractive behavior would be not only disrespectful to those worshipping, but also irreverant.

    I understand also that there are economical considerations - we don't want people drinking beverages that can be spilled on the pews or the carpet - etc. etc. - that is I understand that there is also a respect for commonly held property that ought to be enforced.

    But I do not equate the reverance of worship with the building, nor do I make holy the common respect of property. Yet there are some who do - who make the building itself, or auditorium "sacred" in and of itself - as though God were especially "in that place" even when the congregation isn't.

    Such consecration reminds me of the way the Jews (over time) began to worship the bronze serpent that Moses had lifted up in the wilderness. God used that serpent for a great miracle - but that didn't make the serpent "holy" - and Hezekiah was right to destroy it - not because their blasphemous ignorance made it "evil" - but because by destroying it he removed from their hearts the possibility of further offending God on that account.

    So to me, the sanctuary, at least for some Christians, has become something of an idol the moment they regard it as being anything more than a place where Christians congregate - the moment they refuse to use the church property or the auditorium for some purpose on the basis that the purpose isn't sacred enough - when they do that I believe they step into error.

    That is not to say that I believe "anything goes" - but rather that in considering where to draw the line I believe that the same line is true of a hammer, a saw, or a church building - if the use does not oppose the mission of Christ on earth, either directly or indirectly, if the use does not unduly endanger the property itself then I see nothing to stop me from lending that hammer to the neighbor, or the church building to a daycare, or even a garage sale - if the use isn't corrupt or corrupting, I cannot be convinced to withhold its use by that brow beating variety of prudish pride, by ignorance, by empty zeal, by man-made traditions, or anything else that exalts itself against a common generosity that God has put in our hearts.

    Jim I had a very fruitful discussion about this recently. I don't think God is honored when we call something sacred that he hasn't.

     
  • At 2:37 PM, September 25, 2006, Blogger BugBlaster said…

    Daniel, I agree with you, with the caveat that although not every use has to be vetted by us as "Christianized", we do have a responsibility to ensure that the facilities are not used for purposes that work against the Gospel.

    E.g., if you had an inkling that these meetings were to be used to proselytize for Judaism, then that would be an improper use of the facility that God provided.

     
  • At 3:46 PM, September 25, 2006, Blogger Sojourner said…

    Would you contend that places cannot be set aside as holy? I do not mean holy in and of themselves, but holy because of the function that they serve. If a church sets aside a place where they only gather for the purposes of worship and teaching doctrine, then are they being idolatrous for refusing to turn such a place into an area for a garage sale? I certainly do not think so.

     
  • At 4:39 PM, September 25, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Neil - as I said, I don't buy into the "anything goes" philosophy, the use cannot be contrary either directly or indirectly to the mission of the church, which would rule out Jewish proselyting.

    Brad I think the only actual merit in setting apart a place for spiritual functions - is that it would be convenient for some to have it so.

    When I speak of idolatry, I am speaking specifically to the imputation of spiritual significance to a "thing" - whether that be a "piece of the truth cross," or a church building, or some room in a building. There is nothing spiritually significant about a piece of wood - even if Christ died on that piece of wood - it is still just a piece of wood - there is nothing spiritually significant about it - it is not a "holy" relic, though it may be regarded as such by some.

    I have no problem therefore with anyone who wants to restrict the use of church property to spiritual functions - as long as they do so with the full understanding that while there may be some practical or convenient benefit to doing so - there is, by definition, nothing spiritual about it.

    It is the ones who cannot call a spade a spade that I might contend with - the ones who imagine that setting aside a physical location for worship is spiritually significant (superior?)

    There are many good, practical reasons for setting aside a specific location for spiritual functions - but I fail to see any benefit in inventing spiritual reasons for the same.

    I hope that explains it.

     
  • At 8:24 PM, September 25, 2006, Blogger Sojourner said…

    Daniel,

    Depends on what you mean by a thing having "spiritual" power. My wedding band is simply a piece of metal, literally speaking. But it has tremendous "spiritual" power to me by way of reminding me of my wife. I don't mean something absurd like it glows in the dark or imparts healing power to me, but I certainly attach spiritual significance to it and would be quite distressed if I lost it. Better yet, the bread in the Eucharist is just a piece of bread...right? Symbols hold terrific spiritual value that should not be underestimated.

     
  • At 10:26 PM, September 25, 2006, Blogger Carla said…

    Hi Daniel,

    I sure appreciate you taking the time to explain yourself in such detail. A lot of good stuff there to think about a little deeper.

    One more question:

    Did my use of the word sanctuary recently at my blog compel you in any way to write about this? I rarely see anyone else call it that, but I do and did just a couple days ago when referring to the conference on Saturday. The timing struck me as funny to see your post on this right afterward.

    I do like what you said though about reverencing a structure as though it is holy in and of itself. But like anything else, us Christians have this twisted tendency to make idols out of the most bizarre things, don't we? Something we must always be mindful of, and on guard against.

    SDG,
    Carla

     
  • At 10:44 AM, September 26, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Carla asked: Did my use of the word sanctuary recently at my blog compel you in any way to write about this?

    Nope.

    Our congregation purchased its first building a couple of years ago. Prior to that we were meeting in a school. Once we had the building, people started wanting to use it, for family birthdays, weddings, funerals, graduations, recitals, etc. Being a congregationally run church, the leadership (of which I am a member) decided it would be prudent to develop a "church use policy" to provide a common agreement on how the church property can be used. The need for such a policy should be obvious, but primarily it removes the burden of having to obtain "congregational consent" before the building can be used for a wedding, funeral, or what have you.

    To that end the leadership suggested a committee be formed to draft such a policy, and present it to the leadership for review, and when the policy is accepted by the leadership it is presented to the congregation with the unanimous endorsement of the leaders for congregational consideration. Once the congregation is satisfied with the document it can be voted on and become "policy."

    Last Wednesday the leadership met to review the policy delivered by the committee, and in that policy the auditorium was referred to as a holy place, a sanctuary, and use was restricted in the auditorium because of the sacred nature of the place.

    Immediately the wording, and the thought behind it struck me as misguided. The leadership, upon hearing my reasoning agreed unanimously - there was nothing sacred about the auditorium, and requiring as policy that all uses of the auditorium must maintain the dignity and reverance that rightly belongs to the act of worship (as opposed to the location of worship) would be to legislate a misguided respect.

    The task falls to me (and my big mouth) to articulate this principle, and since it is on my mind this week, I posted on it.

    So the occurrance is entirely (short of God's using it for anything else) coincidental.

     
  • At 11:08 AM, September 26, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Brad said: My wedding band is simply a piece of metal, literally speaking. But it has tremendous "spiritual" power to me by way of reminding me of my wife.

    The wedding ring symbolizes both the covenant of marriage and the commitment to fidelity, when I look at my wedding band I remember both - but so do muslims, buddhists, atheists, and pagans. Any spiritual significance I attribute to the ring has nothing to do whatsoever with the Christian faith.

    Better yet, the bread in the Eucharist is just a piece of bread...right? Symbols hold terrific spiritual value that should not be underestimated.


    The communion bread was a symbol given to the church by Christ, and has a spiritual significance not because of tradition or sentiment, but because of Christ's ordaining that significance into the bread.

    The communion bread, having been imbued by Christ with spiritual significance in a way that no other thing has ever been - removes it from the list of things we can (soundly and soberly) use to make lateral comparisons with.

    Really - that is the heart of the matter - a thing becomes spiritually significant, not because I declare it to be so, but because God has declared it to be so. I have -no- authority to call a thing holy, unless I am echoing the word of God.

    That is my heart on the matter.

    If we want to say that the auditorium should be set aside to reflect the dignity of its primary use - so be it - but let's not pretend we are offering God service by doing so, and every time we could have used the auditorium for a good cause, and didn't because of our having "set it apart for quiet dignity" - let's not kid our selves, we have failed to hit the mark.

     
  • At 8:08 PM, September 26, 2006, Blogger Rose~ said…

    I don't even like the word "sanctuary" when referring to the building. The people themselves are the sanctuary.
    (I am sure that someone has pointed that out already.)

    I like the word "auditorium" but I am sure that has some negative connotations as well. We should take care of the place and respect it as good stewards ... of the meeting place ... as with all that God has provided.

     
  • At 9:38 AM, September 27, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Rose I couldn't agree more!

     
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