Thursday, November 5, 2009

The ZigZag Café

We will be convening here at the ZigZag café, Suisse, on Thursdays for conversation and dialogue. I invite you to stop by every Thursday for the question of the day. Your thoughts and participation are most welcome. Pull up a stool, avec un café, un thé, ou un chocolat chaud, et un croissant, and join in here on Thursday at the ZZ café.

For today:

What are your thoughts about the viability of the “virtual church?”

9 comments:

Joshua said...

What's the virtual church exactly?

Rhett & Valerie said...

"Virtual"? Like an internet church?

When I hear "virtual" I think, "almost real". Sounds like an excuse to only share yourself in a disembodied, two-dimensional way. When people are together in 3D, it's a whole different ballgame.

At the same time, I suppose it could be vaulable for believers who are stranded in geographical areas where face-to-face contact with other members of the body is nearly impossible. It seems like in places like that (like some parts of China), these believers don't access on the internet to Christian websites anyway (like blogs or facebook) and have to rely on snail mail letters and e-mails with encoded language ("Father" for "God" and "talk" for "pray").

I don't know if that's the direction this conversation was headed, but those are my initial thoughts.

-Valerie

Rhett & Valerie said...

Uh, I didn't mean to refer to facebook as a Christian website. But connecting with believers through that medium isn't permissible for some people there.
-V

Greg said...

Joshua,
Thanks. Let's say a church that exists in a non-geographical space.

Greg said...

Valerie,
Thanks. Yes, something like an internet church - say in the West. Is the almost real a problem? And if so why, and if not, why not?

Rhett & Valerie said...

Hey Greg,

As for a church that exists in a non-geographical space, I suppose the idea of the Universal Church fits that description. But sitting in your den and only trying to connect to the "universal church" (as CS Lewis puts it: "the church across space and time") without making any effort to physically connect with local believers is really problematic.

I wonder if people who only connect with the Body of Christ through the internet, television, and books also operate under the notion that after they die, their souls will enter into a purely "spiritual," non-physical environment, like a Nirvana-esque type of Heaven. And that's all; no new creation, no resurrection of the dead.

I think the Bible pretty clearly spells out the Resurrection as a corporeal, physical event. If our bodies weren't important, God wouldn't take the trouble to recreate them. Somehow, physical presence matters greatly to God.

Now, does that mean we need to shun virtual mediums or correspondance as a means of interacting with other members of the Body? No, I think those mediums are really helpful. But they aren't sufficient.

Think of a marriage that only exists long-distance, through correspondance and in the minds of the couple. If there's no physical union, it's hardly a marriage! When we "meet together" only virutally, we (at least I) have a habit of putting my "best face forward." It's incredibly easy to hide one's ugly side. I think others do the same thing, and then you end up filling out in your imagination what is lacking in the correspondance, and if you ever end up meeting together face-to-face, there can be some surprising inconsistencies between the "ideal" community in your head and the real, physically present, breathing people in front of you.

God incarnated himself physically, as the person Jesus. I think that's a pretty important model to consider as we conduct our Christian communities.

Hebrews 10:24-25...

--V

Greg said...

Valerie,
Excellent perspective. Let me ask this: Do you think the Universal Church exists? Maybe I'm being a bit technical, as I see what you mean, but I was wondering if what's universal in this sense is the body of Christ? If there's anything to this, it might mean that the body of Christ and the Church are always related and distinct.

Back to your point. Yes, the lack of physical, in the flesh contact, makes it all too easy. Though I wonder if this is the notion of being a Christian that permeates the West: Christianity should make life easier and being virtual is an expression of this.

Indeed, physicality is a major thread that runs through the biblical picture of being human. Paul, for one, insists that the body is important to God and the Christian life now and in the future.

I think imaginations need bodies, so I agree with you.

Rhett & Valerie said...

I see that maybe I'm equivocating the "body of Christ" as referenced in Romans 12:4 with "the church". Can you help me out with the distinction? Are you suggesting that the church is always a local, immediate community?

I also was thinking of the "great multitude from all tribes and people and languages" in Rev 7:9.

"When the saints go marching in, oh when the saints go marching in, O Lord, I want to be in that number..." :)

-V

Greg said...

Valerie,
No, not suggesting the church is always local.

Off the top of my head, because I haven't looked to closely at this, it seems like there is a distinction between the body of Christ and the church in that many people are part of the church, but not all those are Christians, whereas those who are members of the body of Christ would be. In this sense, the body of Christ would be more clearly defined, not in any way presuming peoples destiny, than the church.