Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 23, 1956
NUMBER 41, PAGE 13b,15b

The Church Universal Concept

M. F. Manchester, Comanche, Texas

The American Christian Missionary Society was founded upon the universal concept of the church. The teaching then was that Christ gave the commission to the church universal, but left the ways and means of its acting in that capacity to the judgment of His people, therefore they claimed to have the right to start a society, if they judged it wise to do so.

lt seems strange to some of us that if such were the case, that the Lord did not give to His people the neces-sary ways and means to fulfill the universal concept in the proclamation of the gospel. Especially is this true in view of the fact that this concept has caused, and is still causing so much trouble among the people of God. Does it seem possible that the all wise Christ would give the Great Commission to the church in the universal sense, and then leave the "how" to the brethren to fight and divide over? Paul says: 41The Scriptures furnish the man of God, unto every good work." And again: "According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness." (2 Peter 1:3.) Does carrying out the Great Commission "pertain to life and godliness"? I am frank to admit that so far, I have not been able to see the universal concept of some of them in their contention for the "sponsoring church setup." The Missionary Society and the sponsoring church plan is the same, in that it provides the means through which, and by which, the church universal can act in preaching the gospel.

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... hundred years ago the church in Connellsville, Pennsylvania objected to it in the the form of resolutions, and the second one reads as follows, "That we consider the church of Jesus Christ, in virtue of the commission given her by our blessed Lord, the only scriptural organization on earth for the conversion of sinners and the sancitification of saints." Brother Campbell's comment on this was as follows:

"Their second resolution is the basis of all their objections, and yet it is, in the main, such a one as we all approve. The only question is whether Christ's church is one community, or all the communities, founded upon a belief of His divine person, office, and mission. A church at Connellville, Philadelpphia, Cincinnati, or New York is not the chucch of Christ. The church of Christ is a very large and widely extended community and possesses a large field, even the habitable earth. The church for which Christ died, and for which He lives and intercedes, is not the church at Connellsville, Rome, Ephesus, or Jerusalem, but is composed of all who have been baptized into His gospel and continue to walk with Him. Now it is competent to the church of Christ to consult and cooperate with all the individual communities called churches of Christ, which enter into her own consistency in whatever state, nation, or empire they may be found, and in each and every mater beyond their individual duties to themselves and their localities. These are matters which we regard as conceded by all our brethren, and therefore we offer no argument in support of them." (Millennial Harbinger, 1850, pages 285, 286.)

Thus Brother Campbell set forth the church universal concept, upon which he bases the right of the society to exist. The church in Connellsville evidently was thinking in terms of the local church being the organization (the only one) that could scripturally do the work of preaching the gospel. However Brother Campbell brushed their objection aside by saying: "These are matters which we regard as conceded by all our brethren."

Brother Campbell with his idea of the right of the church universal to function in the preaching of teh gospel had this to say:

"Now it is competent to the church of Christ (church universal) to consult and cooperate with all the individual communities called churches of Christ."

Well it takes all the churches of Christ to make the church universal (the church of Christ) then how could it "consult with the churches of Christ"? What medium of consultation did he have in mind for the churches of Christ, and by what means could they cooperate? The answer is obvious. The missionary society of ...

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... the word of the Lord to: "Let brotherly love continue," and keep studying God's word. It is the only thing that ...