Sunday, September 02, 2007

50 years of the Australian Unity Agreement (9)

What is 'fellowship'? (2)

Before looking at what the Bible says about 'fellowship' I'd like to give a couple more examples which illustrate what fellowship is not.
1. A Christadelphian you know has just returned from a week-long Bible School saying they had a fabulous time and you ask them what they enjoyed most about it. "Oh, that's easy" they reply, "the wonderful fellowship". By "wonderful fellowship" did they mean the five or ten minutes during the Breaking of Bread service when the emblems were passed around? Or did they mean the hour or so of the Breaking of Bread meeting? Or were they referring to something else?

2. Your ecclesia has decided to promote its Youth Group activities to other ecclesias in the area. The promotional flyer designed for other young people says "Come along on Friday night for practical and relevant Bible study, meet new friends, and enjoy great fellowship with other people your own age." Do you interpret "great fellowship" to mean that the youth group will be conducting a Breaking of Bread on Friday night? As the meeting involves "fellowship" would you also take this to mean that non-baptised young people or school friends will not be allowed in?
These examples, and the ones I gave in my previous post, are quite typical of the general use of the word 'fellowship' in Christadelphian conversation. So why is it that the 'Basis of Fellowship' only uses the word 'fellowship' in the context of disfellowshipping someone or dissociating from an ecclesia? And why has the word taken on a kind of forensic application, referring to Breaking Bread with someone?

In subsequent posts I'd like to rescue the word 'fellowship' from its legalistic use, and show that in Biblical usage it has very little to do with church/ecclesial membership or taking part in a religious meeting known as "Breaking of Bread".