Vol.I No.X Pg.7
October 1964

Conscience And The Elders

Robert F. Turner

Bro. Turner:

Our church does things I know are wrong, but most of the members accept them. I have tried to believe everything is all right, but I know it is not. How long may I continue to take part in and support these errors? LW.


I will be frank-- and space forces me to be abrupt-- please understand. You do not need answers as much as you need STRENGTH. The basic problem here concerns your attitude toward God, and response to your conscience.

Today thousands are captives--- prisoners of their own spiritual weakness --- lacking the courage and the strength to act upon convictions. And such weakness is more than a handicap: it is sinful. Fear, that prevents our doing what we know we should do, can condemn our souls. (Rev.21:8 Jas.4:17)

Paul wrote, "Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin."(Rom.14:22-f) In this passage "faith" is subjective and refers to the individual's conscience. How can one be true to God, who has not the strength to be true to himself?

It is understandable, and commendable, that one should exercise patience toward those in error -- while making an effort to correct the error. But even this does not excuse our own participation in error. Deliberate sin is presumptuous (See Num.15:27-f) and God has never, in this or any other age, tolerated such high-handed disrespect for divine authority. I'll say it plainly, but-- believe me-- with all the love of my heart; you will go to hell if you continue to support and encourage something you know to be wrong.

Bro. Turner:

Since God authorizes a church have elders, if members disobey the elders (who are scripturally qualified) have they not disobeyed God? PM


The voice of the elders is NOT the voice of God--under any circumstance. The voice of the Apostles was the voice of God ONLY as God spoke thru them by inspiration. (Matt.16:19 Jn. 15:26-f. 1 Cor. 2:13)

The question assumes that God has authorized elders to speak for Him. This is not the case. Some common direction and guidance is necessary for collective action, and it is God's plan that men with certain qualifications (1 Tim.3:) serve in this capacity (1 Pet. 5:2) but their judgement could be wrong --- even unscriptural. (See Acts 20:29-f.)

In matters of judgement, obedience to elders assures uniformity of action-- a thing to be desired. But the question of RIGHT and TRUTH must be settled by a higher court --- that of Almighty God. Our allegiance is first and always to God; and His will is revealed in the Bible, not in elders, however noble their intentions.