The early church was not a building with a towering steeple. The early church met in homes. If one accepts New Testament teaching (and what higher authority on the church could there be?), the concept of the church being an organism that resides in each individual believer is clearly spelled out in several passages.
Paul the Apostle writes in his letter to the Colossians (1:24) about the "body" of Jesus Christ, "which is the church." By this, he means the "body of believers" in whom Christ dwells. Wherever that body is, whether an individual, or a group of believers, that's the church. It was only later that this concept of church was turned into something with expensive buildings, tax exemptions and denominations.
The same theme can be found in Revelation where John is asked by Jesus to write letters to several churches. Those, too, were bodies of believers, not physical structures.
In the Old Testament, God told Solomon that while He was too big to live in buildings, He would "dwell" in the Temple Solomon built for Him. Ultimately, though, He said He had other intentions: "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people." (Jeremiah 31:33)
That was and remains for believers the authentic church, so when people say, "I am going to church," it is an impossibility because they can't go to themselves.
The administration's efforts to effectively gerrymander lines between what it considers legitimate religious practice and the secular is what the Founders hoped to avoid when they linked the establishment clause with the free exercise clause.
That is why, among other reasons, government should not mandate birth control coverage as part of any national health care plan.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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