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Why don’t we do online worship?

It is fundamental to a church that it gather as a single body. This is what the word church means in Greek: a congregation; i.e., a body that congregates. Hence, Hebrews 10:25 strictly forbids the “forsaking our own assembling together.” Certainly embodied gathering is what the author of Hebrews had in mind when he wrote this. Physically-isolated people, separated by miles, are not “gathering together” in any sense that the author of Hebrews would have recognized. When we view pixelated representations of each other in small boxes on a screen, and hear tinny reproductions of our voices coming out of speakers, we may be communicating in real time—but we are not with each other in real space. We are together in spirit, perhaps, but we are most certainly absent in the body.

Embodied existence is of central importance in scripture. The incarnation itself testifies to how seriously God treats this issue. If embodiment does not matter, then Jesus being incarnate in a personal body does not matter. But if embodiment does matter, then online worship is a contradiction in terms.

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