The Temporary Ekklesia Theory has some elements squarely in common with the little-known position of Preterism, which is a generic title for the idea that all (or most) biblical prophecy has been fulfilled. Strangely, however, most Preterists, I believe, are members of churches and work under the general assumption that God intended for the ekklesia to continue throughout all generations on the earth, even though he promised to come get them all in that very first generation and gave no indication whatsoever of how the ekklesia was to continue after having all its members removed. Thus do many Preterists tend to suspend what had been a very sound line of eschatalogical (dealing with the “end times”) interpretation up to this point, in favor of a grand-though-unsupportable assumption.
Even in the case of the Preterist churches—and even if we grant the assumption that God is in favor of those establishments—they fail to meet the expectations one would cultivate from the plain meaning of the Bible texts about the original ekklesia. If that ekklesia grew wildly, why doesn’t this one? And if that one had some congregations that had reached spiritual maturity in a single generation, why don’t we? And if they reached the prophesied unity that would accompany maturity, why haven’t we reached it? These questions can be answered either by the Temporary Ekklesia Theory or by silence. I know of no viable alternatives. And silence in the face of such questions is both irresponsible and intellectually dishonest.
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 activites. 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.