ORDERED LOVE – ORDERED CHURCH – PART 4
In 1 Cor. 14:32-33 we learn Paul’s answer to the undiscerned and ecstatic (free-floating) spiritual experiences of the Corinthians. His answer to them is that the “Spirit of the Prophets is controlled by the Prophets.” In other words, no free-floating uncontrolled spiritual experience or spiritual ‘priming of the pump’ in order to create their chosen ‘high’ in spirituality. This will not cut it in the Christian world. Christian people who have the Spirit of God, can still control what goes on.
Paul himself goes for planned, discerned, and ordered worship services as opposed to ‘endlessly free’ versions of church and life. Paul was for the gifts (albeit he was more for love and service), but no charismatic can claim he supports an entirely free model of the service. He sets many limits on this, and says that every word given needs to be discerned by others (See the whole chapter of 14 for this)! With all of the discussions about more freedom in the church, anyone who looks at the Corinthians knows that endless freedom is not the answer. Fact is, it is quite alienating, and Paul sets out to steer the Corinthians away from it.
Paul is taking power away from those who claim to have the greatest ‘word’. He is taking power away from those who say they have had the greatest experience. No ‘free pass’ for spiritual experiences people! Why? Because, those with a spiritual experience, easily use that as leverage to control a congregation. Who are we to argue if you or someone else has heard a “word from God?” How are we to argue if someone has supposedly had a “heavenly vision?” Paul knows that there is foolish business being done in the church. He is not going to have any of it. He argues against the Corinthians experiences, and knows that doctrine, order, and love all trump some ecstatic manifestation. He certainly is not going to let these pagan influences control his congregations.
In fact, this is in part why the book of Timothy outlaws women teaching men in the Church at Ephesus (See 1 Timothy 2:12-15). This local command to this local congregation, hints of a situation that was going on. There were women from a nearby cult coming to Jesus and joining the church. They ended up exalting themselves above the rest and drawing forth contingent groups around themselves, which was dividing the church. Paul was not happy about this, and he writes and outlaws that group of women entirely. His solution for these women, “they need to learn silence.” In other words, mature on out of their old ecstatic and power-driven ways.
These new converts were using the non-discerned powers and prophecies of their cultic past, and now in Christianity they encountered structure and order. In Timothy, we have detailed plans on Elders and Deacons and more. This is all meant to help this church overcome its troubles. We can go back once again to Paul’s advice, “The spirit of the prophets is controlled by the prophets.” Any time someone says, “I just could not control it anymore,” Remember, that Paul says “Yes they can.”
Paul wants order, and he wants discernment for his people, and he does not enjoy contingent groups causing factions and pushing and pulling his congregations in varied ways. He does not want personality and past cult practices over-taking Corinth. There must be a center for Christian existence, and it is not chaotic spirituality. For Paul, it is ORDERED LOVE.
For the love of the Church