The Temporary Ekklesia Theory
You will find the theory listed below these two important notes to the reader.
The Unsettling Gist of the Temporary Ekklesia Theory
Why is the Church today doing so poorly? I believe it’s because, unlike the original ekklesia (the “church” in the First Century), today’s “church” is not supported by God. That is because the ekklesia that Jesus started was only intended to be on the earth temporarily, and it was “caught up” to Heaven in the First Century, just as Jesus promised. What exists today as “the church”, therefore, is simply not the same institution that Jesus called his ekklesia. Hence, it’s many and persistent failures compared to the exploits of the original ekklesia.
The Temporary Ekklesia Theory can be roughly summed up in one paragraph. For the reader’s convenience, here is that paragraph, which is an excerpt from the “Big Picture” list below:
No practice of “church” today is commissioned or commanded by God. Nor is it supported by God with any supernatural or spiritual support. For believers today, there are no standing orders of a “Great Commission”, there is no giving of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, no command for baptism or for the Lord’s Supper, and no miraculous gifts for believers. All these things existed at one time, but were only meant to be temporary. All such practice today is anachronistic and, as a result, devoid of the promises that are appropriated by so many today from the annals of what was promised to a different people in a different place and circumstance, so very long ago. The modern practice of “church” brings to mind Solomon’s observation from so long ago:
Psalm 127:1 Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.
It’s About the Evidence
People get their beliefs and opinions about Christianity in several different ways….some of which are rational, and some of which are not. What you are about to read is a view that is derived from aiming at a deliberate-and-completely-rational position that strives to take all the evidence into consideration. Let me explain. Some decide what is true based only on how things seem to them. Others decide based on hearsay. For some others, they consider only the red letters in a red-letter edition of the Bible (that is, one in which the words of Jesus are in red font). Others read the black letters, too, but only in the New Testament, skipping the Old Testament. Others still read the whole Bible. And then there are those who study the whole Bible–as opposed to just reading it. And some study also the extrabiblical writings of the Semitic culture that produced the Bible, so as to better understand their general point of view and to glean any other evidences that may be helpful in understanding the Bible texts.
And so we see the gradient that is created by all these different scopes of consideration, from the scant “How things seem to me” to the exhaustive approach of studying as much evidence as can be found. The latter has been my aim in this study. Thus, it should naturally be expected to take a different view on some points from the more traditional beliefs that are not informed from as wide a scope of evidence.
People may well imagine, wish for, and believe in all manner of exceptions to the model presented below, but so far, no one has been able to disprove it by any all-rational explanation that takes all the evidence into view.
And this raises the question: Should faith be all rational? That is, should genuine faith be based in reality, or in something else? Well, that’s the question, isn’t it? And I will have to leave that to my audience to decide. I, for one, don’t do well, however, with the idea of a Messiah who got his facts wrong about the realities of his second coming. If he were wrong about that, then how could he be trusted to be right about anything else? The Temporary Ekklesia Theory is the only model I can imagine by which Jesus turns out to be right about everything he said.
The Big Picture
Here are the basic elements of the Temporary Ekklesia Theory. As this website grows, the entries below will be hyperlinked to proofs and supports for the same. The list, as it appears below, is designed to give the reader a very quick understanding of the overall Theory.
- The Bible simply does not tell us everything about what happened. Some of it, we will never know on this Earth, and some of the rest of it, we can piece together with diligent work. But it is a huge mistake to assume that if it’s not directly stated in the Bible, it must not have happened.
- All of Jesus’ prophecies were true and accurate. They were fulfilled as promised with no failure, tardiness, or compromise.
- All of Jesus’ apostles’ teachings were authorized by Jesus, true and accurate, and were fulfilled as promised with no failure, tardiness, or compromise.
- Jesus and his apostles all promised the believers in their own generation that they would be “caught up” with the Lord, including some of them who would be still living at the time.
- Paul prophesied that this ekklesia that was going to be “caught up” would bring glory to God throughout all generations, for ever and ever.
- The Greek word ekklesia is the word Jesus used for the assembly that gathered in his name. The word means “the called-out ones” or “those who are called out“. The word we read in our Bibles, however—“church”—has no such meaning. It is no translation of any Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic word in the Bible, and therefore should not be used. Since there is no English word that is equivalent to ekklesia, it would help to transliterate the word (that is, to write the Greek word using English letters, making an English word out of it as I do on this website). This way, more people would likely learn what the word means in Greek, and this would raise the questions “called out of what?” and “called to where?“. While the word was commonly used in Greek to refer to a public meeting to which people were called out of their homes or other buildings, it may well have been used by Jesus with a double entendre (intent), signifying not only a meeting, but a group that was to be removed from the planet in the same generation in which it started. This idea is completely lost when the word “church” is used.
- Like the Garden of Eden, the Ark of Noah, the Law of Moses, the Ark of the Covenant, the Tabernacle of Moses, the Temple of Solomon, the nation of Israel, and the apostleship, Jesus’ ekklesia was never meant to continue on the earth forever. It was a special arrangement for a special time. And just as the Earth is OK today without Noah’s Ark, it’s OK today without the ekklesia.
- Jesus promised that Satan would be cast out and defeated, along with all his evil angels and all the evil spirits that were plaguing the world at that time. He accomplished this in the very generation in which he promised it. (Satan was “bound” and “cast out” immediately after Jesus’ death, circa 30 AD, and cast eternally into the Lake of fire in 70 AD.)
- Satan and his fallen angels were indeed the “gods” who formerly ruled the earth. The pagan religions were founded by them or in honor of them. God had long promised to judge these gods. (See Deuteronomy 32:8-9, Psalm 82:1-8.)
- The “elect” believers were to be “caught up”, in part, to replace the evil angels that were to be dispatched. The timing of these events was to be coordinated with the “full number” of converts coming into the ekklesia. The faithful humans were to become “sons of God”.
- The apostles completely fulfilled the “Great Commission” (which, by the way, was only for them) in their own generation, preaching the gospel to all the world that was in view at that time. (It may likely be that the Bible simply doesn’t concern itself with the entire Planet Earth, but only a portion of it.) This fulfillment culminated in the “end of the age” prophesied by Jesus in that Commission. Similarly, “the full number of Gentiles” came into the ekklesia during the apostles’ tenure. (See Colossians 1:6, Colossians 1:23, Titus 2:11, Romans 16:26, Acts 17:30, Romans 1:8.)
- The “Great Commission” had a time stamp on it, good only until “the end of the age”. Baptism had a similar time stamp, good only for as long as God would be “calling” people. The fulfillment of the Great Commission marked the end of the “calling”. (Remember, ekklesia means “the called-out ones”. Naturally, whenever God would come and get them, he would quit calling people out once that gathering had passed.)
- Baptism had been the time at which the indwelling of the Holy Spirit was received by each believer. (Read the article, Understanding Baptism in the Ekklesia) Consequently, with the end of the calling and of baptism, with the “catching up” of the elect, and with the defeat of Satan and his allies, so came the end of the indwelling. The promise of the indwelling had a similar time stamp on it, for it was said to be a “seal” guaranteeing their redemption in the upcoming “catching up”. After that redemption had happened, what would be the need for a “ticket” to get in, so to speak? (Don’t worry; righteous believers today still get to go to heaven when they die, I believe.)
- The Lord’s Supper (communion) also had a time stamp on it: “…until the Lord comes.” Thus, at Jesus’ return, the Lord’s Supper would become obsolete and those who had practiced it would be “caught up” with Jesus. (This happened in 70 AD.)
- The miraculous gifts enjoyed by the believers in the First Century had a similar time stamp, with Paul teaching that they would end when “perfection” (maturity/fulfillment) came. (This happened in 70 AD.) Once the spiritual battle in which they were involved was concluded, there would be no more need for the fortification/armament that had been provided for it to each believer. (No, “perfection” was not a reference to the completion of the canon of scripture, as some presume, but to the completion of God’s work in shifting from the one age to the next.)
- The roles of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers all had a time stamp: “…till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God…” (Ephesians 4:13). Thus were they all to cease together at the fulfillment of this unity and maturity, which occurred in 70 AD. NOTE: Paul wrote “…till we all come to the unity…”, and not “…till those in the year 2017 all come to unity…”. He was simply not referring to us.
- Jesus never intended to create a perpetual organization on earth, but to rid the earth of Satan and to take the “firstfruits” of believers to their heavenly reward, also replacing the fallen and dispatched angels with these elect. (This happened in 70 AD.)
- Since the ekklesia was caught up by Jesus in the generation in which such was promised, no further ekklesia was ever supported on the earth by God. (Jesus’ ekklesia continues today in heaven, just as it was prophesied, and righteous believers get to join it upon death. When it was on earth, therefore, the ekklesia was an early and special participation in the heavenly realm—see Hebrews 6:4-5—and it happened during the tumultuous and special time just before the ages changed over.)
- No practice of “church” today is commissioned or commanded by God. Nor is it supported by God with any supernatural or spiritual support. There are no standing orders of a “Great Commission“, there is no giving of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, no command for baptism or for the Lord’s Supper, and no miraculous gifts for believers. All these things were only meant to be temporary. All such practice today is anachronistic and devoid of the promises that are appropriated by so many today from the annals of what was promised to a different people in a different place and circumstance, so very long ago. The modern practice of “church” brings to mind Solomon’s observation from so long ago: Psalm 127:1 Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain.
- All Bible prophecy has been fulfilled–with a couple of possible exceptions, depending on how we interpret what it means to “inherit the Earth”. Besides that, there is none yet to come. As Daniel prophesied, prophecy and vision were “sealed up” in the First Century (See Daniel 9:24). Today’s churches greatly misinterpret the meaning of what is written.
- Although we haven’t enough information in the Bible to completely reconstruct all of the original ecclesiastic teachings and practices, we certainly have enough to understand the same righteousness that was taught in practically every book of the Bible. God will judge each person upon death, based upon whether he or she walked righteously while on the earth. This was certainly what was taught by Jesus and the apostles for that age, and it was taught earlier in that age by David (Psalm 62:12). It is most likely true for our age as well, even if we have no reference that explicitly states as much.
- God does not seem to be directing the affairs of the earth, nor of politics, nor of churches, nor of people today. There is neither emergency nor tragedy in this fact; it was rather his plan. Our great benefit is one we cannot realize from our own experience. Unlike the world before our time, we are not plagued with Satan, his evil angels, nor the evil (“unclean”) spirits that once tyrannized the world. We have Jesus and his “firstfruits” to thank for this amazing deliverance. These events, however, are so distant past that we must take the word of history if we are to believe them at all, for we are without any other way to understand just what a grand deliverance was worked at Jesus’ hands.
Questions Answered by The Theory
The Temporary Ekklesia Theory, if true, would tend to answer a lot of questions. See some of them here.
The idea that Bible prophecy is (all or mostly) fulfilled is not new. It is called Preterism, and Preterists have been trying to work out all the details for quite some time. You can do lots of reading about all that on preteristarchive.com. The Temporary Ekklesia Theory is generally built on a foundation of Preterism. That is, TET holds that practically everything written about in the Bible is already fulfilled. Where TET departs from typical Preterist views is regarding the question of “the church” today. Most (but certainly not all) Preterists, it seems, hold to a view that Jesus’ ekklesia is still in business on Planet Earth today, where TET does not. They hold that Jesus’ second coming (parousia) was not a coming-to-do-a-brief-task, but a coming-and-staying—a perpetual “presence”. I briefly criticize that view in this article, and speak more about the big picture of Preterism and TET here.
For the Record
Let me state for the record that I do not speak for God, that I am no prophet (which means that I am not inspired), and that God has never appeared to me or sent me a message—to the best of my knowledge and belief. Thus do I make no claim that God is or should be upset with church practitioners today on account of their anachronistic activities. I am without a way to know, and I feel no compulsion to speculate on the question. I am fairly certain, however, that God has not changed his views on honesty, integrity, diligence, knowledge, and truth. If in the practice or the defense of “church”–as in the practice or defense of dentistry, housekeeping, or other human endeavor–a person is intellectually dishonest, ignorant, assumptive, or lazy, it is hard to imagine how God would not be displeased with that. I leave it to the reader to decide whether God’s paradigms have changed since the First Century.
I’ve been working on this theory for a number of years now. Unlike the other eschatalogical models, I do not know how to disprove this one. This is why I am still working on it, for I want to exhaust every possible angle of investigation.
The rest of this website will, as it grows, show all the facts I have assembled along the way to this conclusion. Because the Bible is not a complete data set for what all happened in the First Century, however, I do not believe at this time that we can prove the matter in the utterly conclusive manner in which we would like to see such things proven. It may simply turn out that this theory becomes the best possible “educated guess” in interpreting what happened in the past and what was intended for today. I suspect it will be better than that, however, inasmuch as I expect this continual work to rule out the other possible models, leaving only this model as a plausible one.
I shall reveal in the composite articles on this site that there are some problems with this theory, but they lie for in the form of unanswerable questions or in gaps in the Bible data, rather than in contradictions. This is why I call it a theory. It may be true, but I am not sure at this time that it can be proven to be true. The strength of the argument, therefore, likes in its likelihood, as well as in the unlikelihood that a religion with so many otherwise-unanswered questions as traditional Christianity has, can be a plausible religion.
If anyone can disprove any of the assertions I make on this website, I will not only welcome their evidence and arguments, but will alter the theory accordingly. I ask that you refrain from irrational ad hominem attacks, from logical fallacies, and from generalized conclusions that ignore the particulars. Indeed, “Nah-ah!” does not constitute a proof of anything. Nor do anger, adamancy, tradition, sincerity, or emotion.
In this brief introductory page, I will venture only to say that the implications of this theory are immense. (Read more about this here.) The amount of time, energy, and money that are spent on “church” is astounding. If “church”, therefore, is not authorized, guarded, guided, directed, sanctioned, supported, and empowered by God, it is generally a colossal waste—at least with regard to the things that the churches claim primarily to be.
What would happen in the off chance that this Temporary Ekklesia Theory were widely adopted as true, and the world’s churches were emptied? My hope would be, of course, that each former congregant would now become a thinker in his or her own right, and that a great time of personal discovery and freedom would ensue. I would hope similarly that each would adopt righteousness on his or her own accord, and for its own innate value, recognizing with gratitude that Jesus won the privilege of that choice for the entire world. I might also expect believers to gather into convenient fellowships in which to explore and learn more and more about the Bible, but they would not see their fellowship as “church”. And of course, others would resist expending the effort required for a thorough examination of these matters, and instead, might make the irrational leap from the current unauthorized-church way of life to all-out atheism.
Another colossal implication is that the practice of church has served for centuries to have a calming effect on the masses. Indeed, governments have sought to control, steer, or influence church teachings and behaviors for quite some time. Even in the United States most of the churches file with the government, agreeing to be more or less apolitical in exchange for a tax exemption. If the churches were suddenly closed, what would happen to the massive pacifying effect that so many churches have on their members? Would those members become more involved in government? And would they think a different way having realized that God, after all, is not endeavoring to control political events? Would they become better citizens if they realized that God himself condemned the “Sons of God” on his “Divine Council” to the Lake of Fire because they refused to
Psalm 82:3 Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;
maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
4 Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked?
What if it turns out that, as some opine, evil cartels are manipulating the world in part through religion, doing the very things for which the fallen “Sons of God” were dispatched to the eternal Lake of Fire? What would be the reaction of those cartels to a widespread evacuation of the churches and a groundswell of righteousness, justice, awareness, and self-reliance amongst the evacuees?
Nine Guiding Paradigms
For those who are still curious as to where I’m coming from, read this about my paradigms.
Invitation to Discuss
I invite rational discussion on these topics, and will do my best to be available to anyone who’d like to write. to discuss them. You may contact me through the form on the Contact Page.