I saw a link this morning from John MacArthur titled Church Membership in the New Testament. I am always interested in the arguments for "church membership" as it is such a commonly held practice with such a tenuous argument from Scripture. This case was no different. MacArthur opens and closes his essay with an admission that there is no "church membership" in the New Testament. From his opening:
While the New
Testament never speaks of church membership in today’s terms, the
principles of life in the early church lay the foundation for faithfully
submitting and belonging to a local congregation. While the original
membership process might vary from today’s patterns, there’s no doubt
that New Testament Christians were lovingly united and bound to their
local body of believers.
That is somewhat vague. Note he admits that it isn't really there but that the "principles" are. After making some vague assertions what becomes apparent is that what we call "church membership" is not found in the New Testament and that is what is so frustrating. When you title an article "Church Membership in the New Testament" when you admit in that article that it isn't in the New Testament, that starts to sound disingenuous. At least title it "Church Membership Isn't In The New Testament But Here Is Why You Should Practice It Anyway" so the casual reader realizes what is being argued here. There are few words more abused in the church than "Biblical"/
Then there is the closing which provides an interesting clue (emphasis mine):
One of the key
ways the church can guard itself from error and maintain its purity is
to confirm the faith of its people and keep them accountable. The early
church didn’t have a name for that—they didn’t need one. Today we call
it church membership.
Read the bolded portion again. The early church didn't have anything called church membership because they didn't need to. We have church membership today because we do. So the solution is not a man-made tradition, it is to try to find what we have lost that the early church had that made "church membership" unnecessary. That is kind of beyond the point of my post but as always let me exhort you to test everything people tell you and doubly so when they say something is "Biblical"!